I suck at meditations. Seriously. I remember being super stressed out in college and going to a workshop on buddhism and meditation. (In college, there is a workshop for everything.)
I made the quick trek from my dorm room to the Multicultural Center (in college, there are also centers for everything), plopped down on one of the pillows that had been placed on the carpet, and at the instruction of the workshop leader, proceeded to “OM” my little heart out.
My peace and tranquility lasted all of about thirty seconds before my mind started drifting to that week’s homework assignment and what I was going to wear to that party on Friday in attempt to catch the attention of the cutie who lived on my hall.
Now to be fair, most veteran practitioners will tell you that it is completely normal for your mind to wander the first few times you attempt to meditate. But in the years and many attempts since, I’ve still never felt completely at ease (or, let’s face it, the least bit competent) in my quest for inner peace via traditional meditative methods.
Not allowing myself to be discouraged, I continued on and slowly but surely , I was able to develop some non-traditional practices that work for me; practices that have come through in the clutch and saved my sanity (like for real, for real) time and time again.
Why Colored Girls Need Meditation a Million Times More Than Any Other Group
Ok, maybe “a million times more” is a bit strong BUT studies show that women of color experience illness and death related to stress in numbers far higher than any other group. While there are many different explanations to why this is, my lived experience points to the daily strain of being a woman trying to make it in a “man’s world,” coupled with being a personal of color in a predominantly white society.
It’s no surprise (to me at least) that the daily assaults to our identities as women and as people of color/culture contribute to most colored girls experiencing higher than average rates of stress and related illnesses. Add in a couple generic challenges of adulthood: relationships, careers, money drama, and suddenly you’ve got an entire community of folks who would likely benefit from at least a semi-regular meditative practice!
Three Easy Forms of Meditation For Women (Like ME!) Who Suck at Meditation (Also, Like ME!)
Maybe this sounds familiar: It’s Monday – you’re tired and your weekend sucked. To make matters worse, you just got off an emotional conversation with your mom and you are officially FEELING ALL THE FEELINGS. What to do?
Here are three options (that don’t involve wine or chocolate):
1. Three Pages
Next time you’re feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, or unfocused, try a quick free write meditation to help you clear your mind. Grab three blank sheet of paper and write down every single thought and feeling that is present with you in that moment. Don’t stop writing until you have written three whole pages.
You’re not writing a novel so feel free to throw grammar and punctuation out the window. In fact, your writing doesn’t even need to be coherent. It just has to be honest. It has to feel honest. Honest in a way that acknowledges that moment’s happiness, sorrows, stresses, resentments; honest in a way that pays tribute to your big dreams or greatest fears or anything else that is on your mind at that particular moment in time.
When you’ve completed all three pages, slowly read them aloud, then close your eyes and silently acknowledge your thoughts and feeling without judgement. This can sometimes be a difficult and emotional activity because it forces you to come clean with yourself, not just about what you’re feeling, but why you’re feeling it.
2. Writing on the Wall
Remember when you were a kick and terrified of writing on the wall lest you get your butt beat by a nearby parent, grandparent, pretty much any adult within “snatching distance?”
Well, it turns out that writing on the (shower) wall can actually be a pretty cathartic process and now that you’re a grown up you can do so without fear of punishment. #winning
Crayola has these awesome pens they called Window Crayons. They are designed to allow you to write on windows or mirrors and wipe off relatively easily. I like to take them into the shower and write on the tile whatever I want to release.
After you wash your body, wipe whatever is left of the words off of the tile. (The water will have washed most of it away) Sometimes it takes a little scrubbing to get all of it off and down the drain, but there is something so powerful about physically seeing the words disappear along with the dirt and germs you’ve accumulated throughout the day.
That’s right. I said it. This likely isn’t a strategy you’ll find on any traditional list of meditative activities but let’s face it – sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body, mind, and spirit, especially when you are feeling particularly stressed.
It’s easy to turn a quick nap into a meditative experience. If at all possible, start by removing yourself from all distractions and slipping into something a little more comfortable. * Insert suggestive wink here *
Just kidding… it ain’t that kind of party! But I digress…
Quiet room. Comfy pj’s – even if it’s the middle of the day! Lay down somewhere comfortable and (this is the most important step of all): give yourself permission to rest.
Many of us (myself included) find ourselves in situations where we are forced into taking some down time – either because our boss/friend/partner/parent has lectured us into submission or because we’ve finally hit a wall that we can’t take down via sheer will and determination – but instead of fully utilizing this time away from work, we spend the entire “break” thinking about all the things we should be doing/need to do ASAP (<– because everything on out to-do list needs to be done AS SOON AS FREAKING POSSIBLE).
Whether you plan on taking a 30 minute midday nap or preparing for eight hours of meditative slumber, it’s important that you take a few minutes to set the restful intention for this sleeping mediation time. I usually do this by saying aloud:
The work that I do every day is beautiful and powerful. I am deserving of this rest and rejuvenation.
In order to care for others, I must first care for myself.
I close my eyes, slow my breathing, repeat these refrains several times. Usually within a few minutes I am calmer, more relaxed, and ready to embrace rest that is actually meant to be restful! (Novel concept, right?)
Speak on it! Have you ever tried mediating? What was your experience? If meditating isn’t necessarily your thing, what do you do to manage your stress?