Episode 23: Does Meditation Really Calm Your Inner Coked-Up Squirrel, or Is It Just Glorified Napping?

Squirrel lays on rock surface
Hey gurl. How you doin’? Oh, you know me. Just meditating and getting all zen and shit. Come over to my nest later, and we can have lots and lots of nuts.

Do your thoughts tend to race? Do you have trouble focusing on one thing at a time? Do you find yourself buried under a deluge of anxious messages from your ungrateful brain, telling you Tiffany from high school was right and that you’ll never amount to anything and that you walk like an orangutan with scoliosis?

If so, do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior, Meditation? 

All sacrilege aside, meditation is having “a moment,” is it not? No longer is meditation considered an activity practiced by zen yogis who subsist on wheatgrass smoothies infused with the tears of ancient gurus who reached enlightenment faster than you can say “plant-based vegan meatless patty dredged in turmeric.” 

No, no, friend. Meditation is FOR EVERYONE WHY AREN’T YOU MEDITATING RIGHT NOW OMG IT’S SO GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!1

Which is to say, meditation is pretty trendy in a borderline obnoxious kind of way. However, that doesn’t mean the practice of focusing your mind and your breathing isn’t without merit. 

So, the highlights, care of Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions
  • Increasing imagination and creativity
  • Increasing patience and tolerance

But that shit ain’t all emotional. Oh nononono. There’s a big ol’ hunk of physical benefits too. A meditation practice can help you manage:

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Sleep problems
  • Tension headaches

So, if something has that many health benefits, why don’t more people — AJ and Hillary included — do it?

There are a couple of theories. Often, those who want to meditate but don’t cite a lack of time. For others, they don’t know where to start or how to meditate. 

Both are valid objections. Yes, it does take time to meditate, though maybe not as much as you think. And it can be hard to know where to start or if you’re doing it right or if it’s working. 

Also, it’s possible for those with perfectionism tendencies (*cough, cough* “Hillary” *cough, cough*), the stress of “not being able to meditate perfectly the very first time” … well, that can be off putting. The fact that there is no way, really, to “meditate perfectly” seems beside the point. … Shut up, OK?

Anyhoo, since Hillary is trying to overcome her perfectionism, she set a goal this year to start — and stick with — a consistent meditation practice. Once she’s through her 90 days of gratitude, she’ll move on to meditating, so as to “habit stack.”

If you’re considering meditation, what kind should you try, seeing as how there’re about eleventy billion different types? (Sorry for all the links to Headspace. This isn’t a sponsored post. They just have some handy resources that are free, though their app isn’t.)

Anyway, you’ll have to do a little research to find the right meditation for you, and it’ll probably take some trial and error to find one you like and that works for you. Some of the most common types are mindfulness, spiritual, yoga, movement (like walking), manta, and visualization. 

As far as tools, there are lots of apps out there (Hillary likes Insight Timer, though it can get a little overwhelming) and tons of free resources. AJ is planning to try more walking meditation — including labyrinths — as soon as the weather breaks (she’s very delicate). The link below contains a labyrinth locator.

Check out the “Further Info and Deets” section for links to some YouTube videos to get you started on your path to “ommmmmm.”

What about you? Have you tried meditation? Got any success or horror stories? Spill the tea in the comments!

Further Info and Deets

Please note some of these are affiliate links that help support this podcast and site.

13 Reasons to Get Stoked About E-Bikes

Nutcase Helmets: They’re soooooo cute! We both have one.

Walking a Labyrinth as Spiritual Exercise

Ommmmmm … bitches …
Let’s! Get! Calm!
OMGOMGOMG, we love us some Yoga with Adriene. *fan girl swoon*
This better only take 10. These “Parks and Rec” reruns aren’t gonna watch themselves.
As U2 said: “Walk On.”

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