Congratulations: We made it through the first month of 2020!
This first month of the year, I wanted to focus on being present. I knew that would be hard for me because I love to plan ahead and I love to reflect, so I set myself (and us!) a challenge to meditate to help me get in the zone.
Read on for a reflection on meditation, suggestions you shared for being more present, and how this all relates to planning!
So, how’d we do?
Oof. This month was really hard! I must confess: it took me nearly the whole month to actually meditate, and on top of that I only meditated a couple of times. I feel embarrassed that it was so hard for me, but I’m trying to be kind to myself. (Can anyone relate?) I was on vacation for a full week and got a promotion at work — both super exciting, but certainly didn’t make me less busy, of course! Honestly, all that probably means it would’ve been even more important and helpful for me to meditate, but at least I did it a few times.
When I finally did sit down to try it, I was amazed how quickly and comfortably I slipped back into the, um, headspace of meditation. It’s been years since I’ve really practiced meditation and though I’ve noticed I use the techniques in my daily life, I hadn’t sat down and just done a session in a long time. It felt so good. I really did feel calmer and more ready to take on the day.
Back when I was meditating more regularly years ago, I remember it took me a lot longer to accept that my thoughts would buzz around, but this time it was easier for me to be kinder on myself in redirecting back to the breathing exercises. All that to say, don’t be discouraged if you found meditating hard: it is hard! It’s still hard for me. But the practice of it really is useful for helping you sort through your thoughts — to me at least!
I follow a number of lifestyle bloggers who use Headspace, specifically (though of course you can meditate with different apps or without an app at all–I just personally like Headspace), and their journeys meditating for months or even years have been really inspiring to me — check out Carly and Grace’s posts if you’re interested in reading about how it’s benefited them in the long term. Their long-term thoughts are making me consider trying to work this into my daily routine, and maybe pay for a subscription. Goodness knows it wouldn’t hurt!
Suggestions for Being Present
I asked you all on Instagram if this theme resonated with you, and it definitely did! You had some amazing suggestions for being present beyond meditation.
I love, though, how so many of these suggestions — a body scan, mindfulness, taking a break from your phone, savoring something, acceptance — are also things you do in meditation! (One lovely follower, Lili, told me she even incorporates light meditation techniques into her son’s bedtime routine.)
So given that, I think if you struggle to be present and your mind is zooming around, and you don’t find it easy to just sit down and do the above suggestions, you might want to try meditation just once or twice, since it teaches you the basic concepts.
And of course, not surprisingly… Journaling is a big one! That’s a major help to me in being present, too.
Planning, Productivity, and being present
How does this tie into bullet journaling, productivity, getting things done, and so on?
From the number of you who find it’s easy to be present when you’re working in your journal or organizing tasks, the connections probably seem pretty clear already. In the January theme introduction, I wrote about how being present can help us be more focused, and I think that’s true for sure. Being confident in your present moment helps you get done what you need to get done.
But more than that this month, for me personally, considering how to be more present helped me be kinder to myself. Not being able to dive into the challenge of this month more intensely made me feel bad, but the very practice of meditating (the gentle pull back to counting breaths rather than feeling bad that your attention drifted), helped me forgive myself and just give it a try.
That concept certainly helps when we have long to-do lists and are so busy: there’s no way we can get everything done that we want to, so we need to be good at forgiving ourselves, at slowing down and prioritizing even when we’re swamped.
And, isn’t it funny how sometimes your guilt over not having done something yet can get in the way of you just sitting down and actually doing it? I definitely found that in trying to sit down and actually meditate. But once you do it, you usually find it wasn’t so bad after all, right?
I’m grateful to at least have meditation as another tool in my toolkit for being more present, and kind to myself, whenever I need it.
How did you get on with meditating, or just simply trying to be present this month? Let’s chat in the comments! And stay tuned because next week I’ll be posting the February theme for Unfolding the Year!