(Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash)
Dirty dishes in the sink, your bed isn’t made and the kids left their backpacks on the table. Every. Where. You. Turn. Chaos! You want to take a minute for yourself – but who can relax when there’s such utter disarray?
Designating one spot in your living space as “the calming zone” “the meditation corner” “whatever you want to call it” will increase your sanity by 2,000 percent.
And, even if you’re one of those really neat and tidy always-load-the-dishwasher-every-night people – you’ll still benefit from having a designated space to connect with yourself.
Why designate a particular place for you?
When you create a designated “me” space you’re signaling to yourself and the universe that you matter. That among the other people in your home – and their stuff – and your stuff and all the things – you and your space are important. This is essential in learning self-care and is a fun, easy way to start building a better relationship with YOU.
It’s not necessary to meditate in a special space – you can do it anywhere. But, human behavior theories and various psychological principles have taught us that we respond to triggers.
Just like I’m triggered by my kids leaving their dirty clothes right NEXT to the hamper, not IN the hamper – I’m positively triggered by fresh flowers, my favorite candle, a comfy pillow and a beautiful journal all neatly waiting for me in my meditation space.
I happen to be obsessed with decorating, redecorating and then moving things around until it looks JUST how I want it – until next week when I change my mind, again. I love repainting furniture and picture frames. I love cable-knit throws, faux fur pillows and rugs with various patterns and textures. Makes my heart flutter. Not everyone needs the fluff in their space -betcha’d be surprised how much more fun this makes meditating and carving out some “you time” though!
First step: find a place – or placES.
(My Home-office Meditation Space)
My current space is in my home office. I have a comfy chair next to a window with fabulous boho-paisley curtain panels. Just staring at the curtains and the flowing, colorful pattern feels like meditation. I have a soft rug under the window with throw pillows so I can comfortably sit on the floor – if I feel like it.
I have a basket with my journals, pens, inspirational cards and headphones. I keep fresh flowers in my office because they make me happy. I also have a live plant (I would love more, but I have a horrible track record with keeping them alive – baby steps!) And of course, candles – they make me feel cozy and I love aromatherapy.
Years ago, when I lived in a much smaller apartment, I created a corner space in my bedroom. You can make it work anywhere.
Just make sure this ONE space is clutter-free, strictly yours (I do find my 6 year old lounging on the rug when I’m not using it – she loves the space too – which makes me happy.) Only allow items into this space which make you feel peaceful and happy. NOTHING else!
You don’t need all of the things I have in my space. The point is: The colors, patterns, scents and textures make ME FEEL GOOD, so I know it’s the right fit for my space. Fill it with what brings you joy. A minimalist might just have a journal and pen. That’s perfect – it’s still signaling to yourself “ok, now it’s time for me.”
You can create the same concept at your desk at work or even bring your “me time” objects with you wherever you go. For instance, I have some mini travel candles I brought on my last overnight trip; calming music on my phone; headphones and journal in my purse – BAM – self care and meditation on-the-go. I’m currently on the hunt for the perfect mini-chest I can place my items in to keep it all together when on the road. Just like my Father the Physician never went anywhere without his leather medical bag – it had everything he needed in case someone was injured at a family event, birthday party, or long road trip. That’s how I think of my “self care kit” I can be ready to re-center anywhere, anytime! Read the Chopra Center’s recommendation for this.
Now that you have your space – what to do in it.
Well, yes, meditation is the goal. But it doesn’t always have to be eyes closed and sitting cross legged on the floor. I’ve never done more than 20 minutes of closed-eyes, unguided meditation. I’m still practicing and figuring out what works for me.
For beginners (like me), it’s most important to take small steps toward connecting with yourself. That’s the whole point of meditation – to connect with your inner self. When practicing this over and over again, you gain clarity and peace. Anxiety and worry become less prevalent, you become more decisive when making changes in your life and you learn to listen to your own internal guidance system.
Yes, you do have one! It’s just been buried beneath stress and fear and worrying about everyone except yourself for so long – maybe your whole life.
If meditating with your eyes closed feels too weird or overwhelming. Start with some fun oracle cards – no – they aren’t for fortune telling! They provoke thought and provide a way to reflect on certain aspects of your life. Many of them have motivational and inspiring messages you can use as journal prompts. (I’ll list my personal suggestions below.)
Oh, one other thing in my meditation space – a coloring book and colored pencils.
Stop judging me and listen!
Even just 6 months ago I would NEVER have considered pulling out a coloring book in the middle of my work day – I’m a professional for God’s sake! Here’s what it does for me – makes me STOP the insanity in my brain. By the simple act of using varying strokes with a pencil or marker on the coloring page, it gets us out of our heads and slows down the racing thoughts.
The other day – I hit a point in my work day where I was feeling overwhelmed, unsure what to tackle next and then trying to tackle 6 things at once – so it’s not like I was actually getting much work DONE at that point. The old me would have kept buzzing around and then worked myself into a tizzy (yes, that’s a clinical term.) The tizzy would spiral into a downward spiral of negative thoughts and then I’m questioning this and hating myself for that and wondering when it would be late enough in the day to have a glass of wine. Or, a bag of chips. Or, 5 cookies.
So, I got over my ego and bought a damn coloring book. While, I’ve recommended them to clients for years and have used them for family activities with my daughters – NEVER – and I mean NEVER would I do something so unproductive during work hours.
I’m actually getting a ton more done now that I take coloring and meditation breaks. Interesting, right?
When we feel the tizzy spiral start to come on (which btw as you connect with yourself more and more you begin to catch it WAY earlier) stop what you’re doing (unless you’re driving or holding a baby) and go to your space.
By meditating and connecting with yourself (even just 5 minutes here and there) daily, it often prevents the tizzy spiral from ever occurring. You will have experienced the calming effect of connection, deep breathing, writing, coloring and whatever else worked for you – so you know you can get there again.
Meditation and Self-Care is a PRACTICE.
I have to continually remind myself of this. Some days I only journal. Somedays I do a guided meditation. A few times I’ve done a silent meditation. My brain is hard to slow down. That’s ok. Each time I refocus on my breathing or a sound or a visualization in my mind I get to PRACTICE seamlessly transitioning from random “squirrel” thought back to the meditative process.
Here’s what I know after ten years working in the mental health field and from 20 plus years of dealing with anxiety and depression symptoms myself: Often there’s a pattern associated with healing only through the use of therapy and medication. While it can be super helpful for awhile – sometimes a long while.There does seem to be a cycle of feeling okay, feeling pretty good, not worrying as much, on an upswing and then life happens and irritability increases, moodiness, sadness, emptiness creeps back in and we feel like our progress starts regressing or stops altogether. Creating a personal self-care plan including meditation – is the answer to bridge this gap. It’s the only way to sustain long-term peace, happiness and ful-fillment. And it’s not just doing it a few times and expecting miracles (I’m guilty of this and continually repeat the pattern – I want it NOW – dammit!) Each tizzy spiral is just another chance to practice!
List of Resources:
The Chopra Center for Meditation (various meditation types and easy to try practices)
The Universe Has Your Back, book by Gabrielle Bernstein
Gabrielle Bernstein’s book is a quick read and has short meditations that I’ve found very helpful in beginning my meditation journey. She also has inspirational cards and journals that prompt positivity for journaling and self-reflection.
Spirit Animal Oracle Cards
If you’re an animal lover, or have noticed being drawn to certain animals (for me it’s been elephants, peacocks, owls and wolves for years.) I also use these with my daughters – they love looking at the cards with me and learning about animal symbolism!
Angels and Ancestors Oracle Cards
Keisha and I both love these cards – they provide great wisdom from our ancestors, brings awareness to the significance our lineage and family history have in our lives, and gives insight to your personal tools, strengths and challenges.
For more information on this and other topics, or to learn more about what we offer at SHE Counseling and Coaching, LLC – contact us here.
Meghan Farr (above) is a Co-Founder and Co-Owner of SHE Counseling & Coaching, LLC. She coaches and mentors women seeking their true purpose in life through one on one coaching and workshops with her business partner, Keisha Langolf. Meghan graduated with an undergraduate degree in Journalism with a minor in Gender Studies from Ball State University, Muncie, IN, in 2005. In 2009, she graduated from Indiana University, Indianapolis, with a Masters in Social Work (MSW); concentration in Mental Health and Addictions. She received her clinical licensure (LCSW) to practice independently in the state of Indiana in 2011. Meghan now practices solely as a Coach, Mentor, & Educator, not in the role of therapist.