Like many Social Workers, Therapists, and Nurses, I entered into the healing profession to make a difference in the lives others. I was taught by my mother the importance of giving to others, sharing what you have with those who did not have, was the best way to live. I watched my mother get involved with numerous community groups and projects. I watched her juggle holidays events, PTA meetings and being there for her children. What I did not see, was her take a break. I never saw her collapse on the bed with exhaustion. I always saw her doing something for someone else and never for herself. Women were trained and groomed to “do it all” and to have smile on our faces while we do.
That is not my paradigm….anymore. In my mid twenties I entered into the Social Work profession. Though I had some great self care tools, and I used them, it was not until I had suffered major losses in my life that I completely embraced self care as a way of life. We can know what to do, even teach others what to do to take care of themselves, but until it becomes a part of our lives, there will always be gaps. When the stressful time is over and the self care is no longer needed, it will be very easy to slip back into what you were taught or what was modeled to you as a child. The go go go and do do do attitude is not just modeled by our parents, it is woven within the fabric of our American culture. The attitude of “there is no time” is pervasive, especially in the healing service professions.
I would like to introduce a remedy. Meditation!! Yes, I know it is not new and holistic practitioners and free thinking leaders have talked about using meditation as a self care, stress reduction tool for centuries. But here is the thing, it really works when you use it, internalize it and make it a part of your life and not just a novelty. As a Social Worker it was the most beneficial tool for burnout prevention and intervention I ever used. It has been the most centering and loving tool I used to support my life.
Many of us want to meditate but, for some reason it has not come to fruition. I knew a woman who loved her yoga class, but at the end of her class she got up and left because she felt lying in corpse position was a waste of time. I challenged her to explore her feelings a little deeper about leaving when she was invited to be still.
It came down to safety, she simply did not feel safe in her own body. I find the main reason people do not meditate, is because they do not feel safe. Safety is not just about our physical surroundings, emotional and spiritual safety are also components to allowing ourselves to be still. So many of us fear what is within the silence, we do not trust there is a part of us that is safe and does not need to control every outcome. Our Ego’s will come up with numerous excuses as to why we can not meditate in order to keep us feeling safe. Here are a few.
- There is no time
- Not sure how to do it
- Can’t quite my mind
- Convinced it will not work
- It is something different and I am too old to change my habits
If you read these reasons and see yourself, you are not alone, trust me. Learning to meditate and then developing a habit takes time. The first step is to explore what may not feel safe to you about being still and quiet. Before sitting down to meditate I will ask myself this question, “do I feel safe?” If the question is no I will NOT proceed. I will explore my feelings of unsafety. This may take a few moments or it may lead to deeper self inquiries.
When you begin your meditation practice with this question, you will find the excuses falling away, and your meditative practice will become easier and deepen over time.
Let me end with this. I started meditating on a regular basis when I was 20 years old. That was 27 years ago. I have had a lot of time to practice and figure out what works and what does not work for me. Give yourself some time. Be patient and gentle, there really is no rush.
Chonteau is leading a group of women in August 2017 for a Women and Stillness Meditation Retreat at Lake Louisa State Park. Three days of tapping into your inner power and reconnecting with nature and yourself. If you are interested in this intimate group setting please follow this link: Link to learn more and to set up a chat. We are accepting deposits and inquiries. All of Chonteau’s events are uniquely designed for deep reflection and self transformation. Please enjoy our slideshow from our Women’s Weekend.