The Foodie Dietitian Blog

Mindful Monday: The Secret to Meditation You’ve Been Waiting For

Ever struggle with meditation? This week on #mindfulmonday, I share the secret to meditation you’ve been waiting for that will dramatically change your practice. 

Ever struggle with meditation? This week on #mindfulmonday, I share the secret to meditation that you've been waiting for that will dramatically change your practice. | The Foodie Dietitian @karalydon

I was watching comedy on Netflix with Steve last night as we tried to wind down before a crazy busy week of travel and weddings ahead. We watched this stand-up guy, John Mulaney, who was actually pretty hysterical. He had me LOL’ing ALOT. During one of his skits, he was talking about dating and how he usually dates Irish Catholic women but the problem with Irish people is that they tend to bottle up all their emotions (and he points to his chest to indicate where they’re stored). So he continues to repeat this notion that Irish people hold everything in, they don’t talk about things, they just keep everything in until one day…(I’m thinking he’s going to say explode, throw a fit, etc.)…they die. Cue the LOL’ing.

I thought this was hilarious because as a 50% Irish gal, I can totally relate. He actually quoted a conversation he had with his Irish girlfriend once who was staring outside the car window, and he said to her what’s wrong? And her response was “you wouldn’t even begin to understand”. He goes what the “*!#@ am I supposed to do with that?” Pretty sure I’ve fed that line to Steve before. 🙂

So how does this comedy about Irish women relate to meditation? Stay with me…

#mindfulmonday Secret to Meditation You've Been Waiting for | The Foodie Dietitian @karalydon

A few weekends ago, I had some stuff come up (and by stuff I mean the emotional junk that life throws us sometimes). And instead of acknowledging it or talking about it, I did what every Irish girl does and bottled it up. And then kept myself as busy as possible so that I wouldn’t have to confront it or think about it. Went for a run, went to the grocery store, made a recipe, read, cleaned the apartment. You know, busy work. And it got to the point where I knew exactly what I was doing and why.

So, I stopped myself in my tracks and forced myself to my meditation seat (which is a big pillow and a blanket on the floor – meditation doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated). I set my timer for somewhere between 20-30 minutes and sat and dealt with the “stuff”. And sure enough the stuff came up, I had a good cry, and I felt SO much better after that. Did you know that crying actually releases endorphins? Not that we want to walk around crying everyday but that’s why you tend to feel much better after you let out a good cry.

Meditation allows you to be present with yourself and your thoughts. By watching your thoughts, you can learn more about yourself than you ever knew was possible. It helps relieve stress, encourages mindfulness, and helps you to start changing certain behavioral or thought patterns.

#mindfulmonday Secret to Meditation | The Foodie Dietitian @karalydon

When I talk to people about meditation, I often hear “I can’t meditate”, “I wouldn’t be good at meditating”, or I wouldn’t know how to meditate”. But here’s the secret to meditation that most people don’t realize…

If you can sit (on the floor, in a chair, up in bed) or even walk, you can meditate. Because there is nothing to meditation besides being with yourself. There’s no trying. There’s no being better at. There’s no being good at. Because there is literally nothing you have to do during meditation besides sit with yourself.

And that’s where I went wrong for years (before yoga teacher training). I was always trying. Whenever I would sit to mediate I would try really hard to focus on not thinking. If thoughts would come up or I would get distracted, I would get frustrated and try to tell myself to stop thinking. But here’s the thing – you don’t want to stop thinking. You want to let thoughts come and go as they naturally would and then observe them without attaching. And if you get distracted by your thoughts (which you will – everyone does), then you simply acknowledge that you were thinking (perhaps by saying the word “thinking” to yourself) and come back to the present.

We’re so programmed to always be trying. Improving. Getting better at. So take advantage of the practice of meditation to let all that go. And just be with wherever you are. No judgements. No trying. Just being.

Next week, I’ll share with you my favorite meditation apps and tools for meditation. Stay tuned!

Namaste.

Have you ever tried meditating? What was your experience like? 

I'm a nutrition coach and yoga teacher helping people to learn to love food again. I love cooking, taking pictures of my food and traveling around the world. Follow my blog for delicious, seasonal vegetarian recipes and simple strategies to bring more yoga and mindfulness into your life. And check out my e-book to learn how to improve your health through nutrition and yoga. Show me what deliciousness you make! Tag me @karalydonRD on Instagram.

Comments

  1. Hi Kara! I’ve been learning about mindfulness meditation (in therapy, actually), and your description is exactly the difference between what I used to think about it and what I now understand about it. I’m eager to know: have you shared your favorite meditation apps and tools yet? I just skimmed through your newer posts and couldn’t find them. I’d love to hear what you recommend! Thanks! Hope you’re having an amazing week 🙂

    • Hi Ashleigh! Thanks so much for reaching out. Happy to hear that you’re learning about meditation. Truth is, I was practicing a bit of mindfulness myself this past Monday. I was pretty burnt out after a week of being on the road and returning late Sunday night so I decided to postpone my meditation app post until next Monday. So, don’t worry! You didn’t miss it! Stay tuned, my friend 🙂

  2. Love this post so much! Namaste ॐ

  3. YES! this was my realization of the year, when i started meditating in March. I always thought that meditation=silent/shut off mind. Not at all! Headspace has some fantastic videos and explainers for just sitting and watching thoughts go by 🙂

  4. This is such a great reminder. I try to tell myself that it’s good to feel my emotions and let them take their course. Needless to say, that has left me balling in front of my kids on many occasions but I hope they see me being real.
    Thanks for writing this beautiful post!

  5. Sometimes meditation is easy for me, and sometimes I just can’t seem to sit still. I never regret a good meditation session though- great post, thanks for sharing!

    • As it goes for everyone. Every time I sit to meditate, I have a different experience. That’s what’s so amazing about it. And I agree, I never regret taking the time to sit with myself!

  6. This is awesome. I love how you define mediation.. and I can so relate to the “trying” to be still and with myself in my thoughts…

  7. Meditation is my go-to…or moving meditation like yoga, a walk, or other tools. This is so important to read though because I used to think you had to have a perfectly clear mind to get the benefits of it – so not true! Just being consistent with a practice that works for me has made all the difference. Totally understand the “emotional junk” – when I started meditating, I actually had to sit with it rather than distracting myself or ignoring those feelings. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing, Lauren! I think so many people have that misconception that you and I had, which is why I felt so strongly to share it.

  8. Great post Kara – especially love the Ego vs Spirit quote! The hardest part of meditating for me IS the sitting still! I think about all the things I should and can be doing during that time, which just makes me more anxious. Any tips for dealing with that?!

    • Thanks, Jessica. What you just described? Totally normal and oh-so-common! Maybe practice shifting your focus to something else – could be the breath (counting inhales and exhales), could be outside sounds around you, could be a mantra, and that may help dissipate some of that initial anxiety you feel when you sit. Sometimes meditation is just a tool for us to realize that we’re actually stretched too thin or too stressed out and helps us clue in that maybe something’s gotta give for us to be more relaxed. Hope that helps!

  9. Kara – I just loved this post. It’s the perfect balance of funny, warm, and inspirational, and your personality just radiates through. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

  10. Janelle (@JanelleRDN)

    Boy did I get this post in my inbox at the perfect time. I just started meditating a few weeks ago with the Headspace app. So I sat down this morning to meditate and just as you said in the post some serious stuff came up – stuff I didn’t even know I was feeling! I was having trouble focusing on my breath and letting thoughts come and go which resulted in my feeling like a failure at meditation. I finished the 15 minute session and opened my eyes feeling super frustrated. I try not to immediately go to my phone after meditating but I did and there was this post in my email. Divine timing 🙂 thank you for sharing this and helping me realize that I don’t have to do or accomplish anything at all during meditation. What a gift. Xo

    • Janelle, you just gave me goosebumps!! Wow. Thank you SO much for sharing this. This is the kind of feedback that inspires me to keep writing. Thank you. I love the divine intervention with timing that happened here. YOU are a gift. The accomplishment is that you are investing time in yourself just by sitting. Kudos to you for beginning your meditation journey. It’s certainly not easy in the beginning but hopefully with time you’ll begin to notice a shift. xoxo

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