One thing I have noticed as I have been getting closer to middle age is an increasing and sometimes urgent need to…meditate. Life has changed dramatically for me betweeen my early 30s to mid-40s as I decided to get healthy after years of neglect, change my career from academia to wellness and start my own business. Where before I had set working hours and didn’t give a second thought to my job once I left the office, enjoying a two day weekend every week, now being self-employed is all-consuming and blurs the boundaries between work and play.
Finding quiet mental space during a busy day where I can be literally running between several venues to train clients and deliver talks is hard. The prevalence of social media that comes with running a business also makes it hard to switch off as I’m always posting to boost class attendance or sharing interesting articles with my followers. I’m very lucky to get paid for doing what I would probably do for fun but it does make it hard to switch off my brain when everything merges. After realising that I wasn’t ever really relaxing until I was asleep, and even then being prone to nightmares and sweats, it was time to re-evaluate.
I am not one of these yoga teachers who gets up at 5am to practice. I work so hard physically during the day that I need a solid eight hours’ sleep and I’m often so late home that going to bed early enough to facilitate a dawn practice would give me all of an hour to have any personal time, cook, eat etc. I’m also stiff as an old crone when I get out of bed and need time for my muscles to warm up, as my early personal training clients will attest; I can barely demonstrate any moves at 06.30!
So, it’s a case of revisiting my mantra of small changes made consistently over time, in the style of The Slight Edge, a book that really changed my thinking about personal development. Instead of committing to an hour of meditation and a yoga practice every day, I aim for a simple five minutes before I get out of bed, as many mornings as I can. It’s a quick win and is still well worth doing for the benefits it brings. I also avoid looking at the news and my emails until I’m awake and ready to cope with them mentally. With so many unpleasant things going on in an increasingly unstable world, it’s not the first thing I want in my head. Carving out a quiet mental space before the day kicks off has become a much calmer way to start the day.
As with my training sessions, I look for windows in my diary to fit in my yoga practices. I have a subscription to the online platform YogaGlo where I can get as many classes with great teachers as I like for about £12 a month, with class lengths varying from 15-90 minutes, so there’s always something I can fit in. Unless I practise regularly, I don’t find inspiration for my own teaching, so I really have committed to getting it done.
I’m also welcoming short gaps in the day when I can just sit and breathe. You’ll often find me on the sofa at Powersports just relaxing or stretching, or maybe catching up with another trainer. And I’m being less militant about my physical training. With my hip injury still causing me problems, it’s not the end of the world for me to skip a training session when I’m still so physically active in my work and it means I can often feel a bit less like I’m right on the edge of being too tired.
So have a think about where you can carve out even just five quiet minutes in your day. Could you:
– escape your desk at lunchtime for a walk?
– take the dog out?
– roll out your yoga mat or find a class on your way to and from work?
– get some inspiration? Look on YouTube for guided meditations or download the fabulous app Insight Timer to your phone and access loads of them there. There is also a lovely new magazine called In the Moment for some fresh ideas.
– spend time in a ‘flow’ activity in which you can really lose yourself, like dancing, gardening or reading a great book? I’m well into the latest of the Millennium books now as I love Scandinavian thrillers.
– wake up and just take five minutes to breathe in the peace and quiet?
I regularly lead meditations as part of my Empower Yoga classes, or why not book a 1:1 with me to learn some calming breath work or refine your yoga practice?
See you soon and enjoy the silence!