Owning Your Wellness Journey

Staying at home has led me to have some pretty interesting realizations about myself. In the past few weeks, I’ve thought deeply about my health and wellness journey and how even though it was a part of me, it wasn’t something that I truly took ownership of.

Before the pandemic, if I wanted to work out, I went to spin class. or yoga. If I wanted to treat myself, I went to the spa for a hot stone massage or the nail salon for a mani/pedi. If I wanted my home to smell good, I’d go to TJMaxx (sometimes two in one day) just to smell the candles.

I was so excited when the day rolled around and it was time for me to go to one of those places. I picked out my clothes beforehand (often color-coordinated) and could not wait to do these things in the name of “self-care”, fitness, or wellness.

And then we got told to stay at home. Even though some things have opened up, I haven’t been back. Gone are the days riding front row at spin class while the instructor high fives everyone on the way out of the room. Gone are the hands on adjustments to improve your alignment in yoga class. Non-existent are trips to stores like TJMaxx where you can touch a whole bunch of things in the store, place them back down on the shelf, and walk out with only one item.

This routine I created could not be adapted to life as we know it now. Because it depending on human touch, contact, and hanging out in indoor spaces while very unconcerned about how many people were there or how many items I touched that I didn’t plan to buy.

So, I realized that this routine I created to help me stay well and be joyful was largely out of my own hands. It involved so many people, several strangers, and a whole lot of not-so-personal spaces. Most of all, my routine was based on me receiving things, whether it was instruction, guidance, or relaxation via hot stones. I may have scheduled the appointments and booked the classes, but this routine was not mine.

What I have been exploring over the past few months is taking more ownership of my wellness journey. It is much less about what I can go out and do and instead about the inner work I need to do. Some days that means I take an hour long power yoga class (virtually), and other days, I may read or paint. I select activities based on what I’m striving to achieve.

Although it certainly feels odd to reach a stage in this pandemic where I’m missing the “practically strangers” that I often encountered in my daily life, I’ve accepted that this is how things are for now. And I’ve realized for me that wellness isn’t about where you go. Practicing mindfulness and finding activities that are relaxing and bring me joy can be practiced from anywhere.

How to Start a Meditation Practice

Before yoga teacher training, I practiced yoga for 5 years without realizing that yoga was a part of something much greater than the physical practice. Since graduating from YTT, I’m determined to introduce more aspects of yoga into my life. Currently, I’m working to improve my meditation practice.

Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to develop a consistent meditation practice. It has been challenging for me to get started and I often find myself getting distracted. There are so many different ways to mediate and it is important to find a practice that works best for you so that you stay consistent. Below are a few strategies that I’ve been using to encourage myself to mediate more.

Create a personal meditation space

Setting up a meditation space in your home is important. Whether you redesign a corner of a room or have a few yoga blocks that you can arrange in a comfortable seat for yourself, find something that works well for you! These days, I enjoy sitting on my yoga mat on one block. Having my seating arrangements already in place is one less thing I have to worry about once I decide to meditate. If sitting isn’t your thing, I suggest trying a walking meditation. Since many of us are spending more time at home and likely seated for most of the day, a walking mediation allows us to get some fresh air and meditate while moving.

You can choose guided or unguided meditations and/or incorporate music

I’ve realized that it’s hard for me to sit in silence and meditate because I easily become distracted by my own thoughts. One minute, I’m meditating and the next, I’m making a grocery list. I’ve been opting for guided meditations recently because having something to concentrate on and a voice to listen to on keeps me from drifting into my thoughts.

Schedule a time to meditate

As the day goes on, I notice that my motivation to do anything starts to wane. After dinner, I start to slow down and prepare for bed. If I meditate too close to bed, I may fall asleep in the middle of meditating! Planning to meditate in the morning, afternoon, or early evening works better for me because I know that putting something off until after dinner means I won’t do it. Knowing when you have motivation during the day will help you select optimal times to meditate.

Eat and drink before meditating

Meditating while hungry does not work for me at all. If my stomach is growling, I become overly focused on that sound and then start thinking about what I’m going to eat later. Ensuring that you aren’t hungry or thirsty before you set out to meditate will alleviate some distractions.

There are so many benefits to meditating, from increased concentration to decreased stress! I hope you create a routine that works best for you!