As a busy Mom of four, entrepreneur and manager of some tough stuff life’s thrown our family’s way, I’ve really leaned deeper into my guided meditation/mindfulness practice the last few years to catch my breath so I don’t break. I know, I know…not another post about mindfulness, but listen up – among all the mental fitness tools I’ve introduced to my life, it’s consistently proven the most transformational and grounding when life throws a whole lot of “stuff” you have no control over (and boy has she ever!). It doesn’t erase the mental load, and it certainly isn’t a cure for all the physical symptoms of stress, but it does seriously help me move forward and through it with more lightness and calm. Essentially, it creates margin to catch my breath and tune in between the go, go goings and craziness of our full life.
BUT HOW DO YOU KNOW MINDFULNESS “WORKS”?
But how do you KNOW it’s “working”? You can’t measure it like steps on a fit bit, the number dips on a scale, finely tuned abs… why believe the hype? Well, it was on my 40th Birthday in Mexico where I discovered where my own practice was showing its power and confirmed my progress. I booked myself to try the Temazcal Ceremony. It was complimentary at the resort and said be used by Aztec & Mayan cultures to heal and purify the mind, body and soul…– to be reborn by balancing the participant’s wisdom, awareness & will. It seemed like the perfect way to welcome a new decade of life, right? Let’s do this! But what I wasn’t prepared for was having to withstand a very confined, rounded clay space and extreme heat conditions in the what they called “temple of warm stones” (which felt more like the Temple of Doom…I’ll explain).
I will tell you within the first 5 minutes of this ceremony I wasn’t’ sure if I’d make it through…holy INTENSE batman and anyone who’s claustrophobic would find the conditions immediately unbearable. In fact, at least 3 participants bolted quickly in the first few minutes. But I stuck it out, sweating like I never have before so profusely you could hear the sloshing of wetness behind the backs of my knees that were bent in a sitting fetal position (HALP!), the sweat drops hit the clay bottom underneath me. When the heat got so intense and oxygen zapped as if you were in a pressure cooker that simultaneously sucked out air supply, you had to very consciously find ways to catch a breath… and after (upon sweet relief from exiting the clay torture chamber, I mean temple ), while feeling elated from making it through & invigorated by the mandatory cold cleanse is when it hit me – my practice just showed the payoff. Because without going into a meditative state to withstand it, there is no way the logical mind would persuade you to endure it (kind of like child birth!). And that, my loves, is how meditation shows one of its many benefits. It teaches you how to breathe, to access your mental strength and to endure whatever heaviness and weight of things you think you cannot handle – bringing you into the present moment and helping you accept “what is”. It diffuses all that “extra” that clutters and distracts the mind. Another indicator of how it works? I only have to depart a few days from my mindfulness practice to notice why I need it in my life.