Back to Basics: Meditation Update and Movement Plan

testing out the tent for our upcoming camping trip

testing out the tent for our upcoming camping trip

I’m wrapping up month two of my back to basics “challenge.” At the beginning of May I mentioned that I’d be making an effort to focus on the things that make me feel like a whole person. You can read my initial post here. May was all about sleep, June was all about meditation, and July is all about movement.

How did meditation go? Reasonably well considering we were traveling for two weeks during the end of the school year. Do I feel more centered or calm or any less scattered? Not really… but, maybe if I hadn’t been meditating, I’d feel worse?! Lately, it’s been a struggle to let all the chatter that’s going on in my brain pass on by. I’m chalking that up to a) having a lot going on during the month of June, b) having a kiddo who isn’t sleeping through the night, and c) having a three year old. The picture above sums up what meditation feels like right now… a nice relaxing day, with blue skies and the sun shining through the trees that you’re trying to enjoy, and then all of the sudden there’s a foot in your face. Here’s how I did with my goals.

  • Work up to 30 minutes a day of meditation

    • Didn’t quite get up to 30 minutes a day (on June 30 I did 27 minutes). I missed 3 days during our trip, 2 days right after our trip, and 2 days at the end of the month because I got sucked into the lure of TV watching on the couch and was too tired to meditate by the time I dragged myself back to bed. At the end of June, I was at 27 minutes per day. I never ended up breaking the sessions into multiple parts. I took an all or nothing approach (which probably isn’t the best idea), so if I couldn’t sit down (or lay down) for the full amount of time, I just didn’t do it.

  • No guided meditations

    • Yes! I didn’t do any guided meditations. However, part of the reason for not doing guided meditations was to rely less on my phone. I ended up using insight timer’s timer to meditate, so it kind of defeated the purpose. I looked into “gentle” alarm clocks, as a way to time myself without a screen, but never actually purchased one. Honestly, I’ll probably just continue to use my phone. It’s not like I’m sitting there staring at it while I’m meditating, so I think it’ll be okay, ha!

My key takeaways from my month of mediation are…

  • Timing matters: Meditating first thing in the morning worked best in terms of fitting it in to my schedule. However, I liked meditating better when I did it shortly before bed. It was nice to end the day on a calm note. Plus, it felt easier to clear my head because there wasn’t anything else to do except sleep. But… putting it off until bedtime meant that sometimes it didn’t happen because I was too tired. For the future, I might try doing it right after I put Ellie to bed (which is usually at least an hour before we go to bed).

  • I like to take an all or nothing mindset with a lot of things in life: I found that I was often thinking, “well, if I can’t get X minutes of meditation in right now, then I might as well not do anything.” This especially happened before bed. For example, if it was 11:45pm and I was planning to do a 25 minute meditation, I’d just say forget it, because I wanted to go to sleep… even though it would have been feasible to do a 5 or 10 minute session. I definitely do this with a lot of things in life… like exercise and eating/drinking. It’s definitely something I want to try and shift myself away from.

  • Finding 30 minutes during the day when no one will interrupt is really difficult! I ended up locking the bedroom door when I did it during the day because Ellie would inevitably yell, “MAMA!!!” whenever I laid down to meditate. Toddlers/preschoolers don’t respond well to you ignoring them.

  • Building up slowly is important: Once I started getting into the 20 minute range, I’d get really antsy. I think a minute increase a day was probably too quick for me. Moving forward, I’m going to go back down to 15 minutes (twice a day if possible) and then build up by a few minutes every week (or every other week).

What will I keep and what will I toss?

  • Continuing my daily practice: However, as I mentioned, I’m going to dial it back down to 15 minutes. Anything longer than 20 minutes has felt really really difficult.

  • Alternating between guided/unguided meditations: I really like guided meditations and they seem to help settle my brain more than unguided meditations… so why deny myself something I like? I do want to work on only being with my thoughts, so I’ll alternate between the two.

july’s Movement plan

July will be all about movement. Movement seems to be the thing that I have the “easiest” (in quotes because it’s not all that easy!) time working into my schedule (at least lately). It’s also something that’s really easy to involve Ellie in. When I’m lifting or doing yoga, she’ll often join me for a little bit. I’ve got PVC pipe so that she can do squats and presses, just like mama, and she’s getting pretty good at downward dog!

Where am I at with movement? I’ve been pretty consistent (barring travel), with either doing yoga or lifting each day of the week, with the occasional hike or long walk mixed in. Travel, lack of sleep, and my back are all things that throw me off. We’re not traveling this month (other than a camping trip… which will involve hiking), so while we’re at home I can at least keep a consistent schedule with sleep. The only thing that I foresee throwing a wrench in things is my back, which I’m (along with a health care professional) actively trying to figure out. It actually feels pretty good with movement, so I’m just planning to go a bit lighter with lifting and make sure I’m stretching regularly.

What’s my movement plan for the July?

  • Move every day! I’m not setting specific goals around what type of movement I’ll do. Adding in specific constraints makes it feel more like something I have to do and less like something I want to do. I’ll likely engage in yoga, weightlifting, and walking/hiking.

  • When I’m working at the computer, change positions every 30 minutes: Between my job and this blog, I spend a significant amount of time in front of a computer. Staying in one position for too long (whether it’s sitting or standing) doesn’t feel good. I’m going to set an alarm on my phone to remind me!

  • Foam roll for 10 minutes every other day: Something else that’s been super helpful for me in terms of promoting movement is foam rolling. Planning to do this every other day for 10 minutes… the question is, do I bring the foam roller camping?!

Check back in early August to see how it went!