How Meditation Changed My Life

South Beach, Miami

Before I started meditating I was your typical high strung New Yorker.  Living life in the fast lane – going out to dinner and drinks every night. Constantly attending events, traveling to a new city or country just about every other week. And never taking a day off from emails, creating content, brand partnerships or editing photos.  While I loved that exciting time period, it also became incredibly stressful. I wasn’t able to shake off that stress like I had in the past through workouts, girls nights, retail therapy, reading, etc.  It felt like I was wearing a heavy blanket of overwhelming anxiety that I just could not get rid of!

I confided in my friend and pilates teacher at the time, who always seemed so calm, cool and collected. Despite running her own pilates studio and living in the heart of NYC – and asked her what the heck was her secret.  She told me she did a style of meditation called; Transcendental Meditation.  That night, I went home, googled different styles of meditation, signed up for a class that felt like the right fit for me. (I went with Ziva – a Vedic style which is similar to Transcendental). And now it’s been 3 years since I started meditating!

How has meditation changed my life?

First of all, I am able to manage stress and stressful situations with so much more ease.  Furthermore, I take things in stride and dissect a situation into mini blocks and tackle each aspect of it piece by piece rather than getting consumed by it. Second, I am so much more positive and happy.  Clinical studies show that a consistent, daily 20 minute meditation practice actually increases the serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain. Pretty amazing huh?  I have less social anxiety and anxiety in general. Also, I feel more confident in any social situation I’m put in even if I don’t know anyone or if it’s uncomfortable.

My stomach doesn’t feel like it’s in knots from stress, bad news, or work deadlines like it used to.  It’s insane how much emotion we hold in our stomachs and how that effects our digestion! Honestly, I have way more energy all day, feel more well rested, and rarely drink caffeine (maybe once a week now.)  Also, I can power through my workouts, have more stamina and just feel healthier in general. (Meditation is proven to increase your immune system.) In addition, I do not get jet lagged and time difference doesn’t effect me at all – yet another benefit of meditating.

I’m so much more calm and relaxed.

Just ask my friends and family members who have known my Type A, perfectionist self forever. ;)  I’m able to think more clearly and be more productive with my time and time management. Overall, I have continued to feel more and more grounded, open to the unknown (which I couldn’t say in the past as a bit of a control freak). And prepared for the ups and downs in life.

A lot of you have been asking me if I can teach you how to meditate or write about how to do it.  There are many different types of meditation and many different ways you can meditate… While it is a simple concept, I really do feel that it’s best to take a class and learn from an expert!  I’ve read several books on meditation, but nothing has been as effective as the Vedic meditation class I took in NYC called:

Ziva Meditation

(Which also offers an online class. By the way, this isn’t a sponsored post or affiliated with Ziva in anyway. I just loved the experience I had there.)

It’s a 4 day course (2 hours per day) so you can easily incorporate it into your life.  I’m partial to a 20 minute seated mantra meditation because not only do scientific studies prove it’s insanely effective (Which is why celebrities like Oprah, Jenna Dewan, Fortune 500 executives and top athletes practice it as well). BUT it’s something that I’ve been able to enjoy and stick with consistently everyday for 3 years without ever missing a day.  Note – Vedic is similar to “TM” or Transcendental Meditation which you may have heard of. In that they are both 20 minute seated meditations you do with a mantra.  There are lots of debates comparing the two. And I say choose whichever style or class jumps out at you. It’s such a personal experience!

Even though I don’t feel comfortable teaching anyone how to meditate (again it’s such a personal process and you should really choose the right style for you!). I’ll tell you in general how Vedic and Transcendental meditation work!  When you sign up for a course, your teacher will give you an ancient Sanskrit word that you repeat silently in your head, while sitting upright (I sit up in my bed) over and over again for 20 minutes.

(I do this first thing every morning before anything else.)

It’s called your “mantra” and basically acts as a tool to guide you into a relaxed state of mind.  No one’s brain can repeat the same word for 20 minutes straight without having other thoughts… So your mind will drift which is part of the process and totally normal!

You may start thinking about your grocery list, the dinner you have later that night, the random bird chirping outside your window… Just let all of those thoughts come, and then once you realized you’ve trailed off from the mantra you start repeating it again.  You keep a clock within eyesight and peek at it whenever you think you’re getting close to the 20 minute mark.  What’s crazy is that our bodies circadian rhythm somehow will usually always let us know when it’s been 10 minutes or 20 minutes exactly!  SERIOUSLY!  When I first started, I would get nervous that I would accidentally go over the 20 minute mark and miss a meeting. But I never did.

Usually, I peek at the clock at the 10 minute mark, realize it hasn’t been 20 minutes, then close my eyes and peek once more.  Once I see it’s been 20 minutes, I have a 2-3 minute “come down” from the meditation. Which is where I say what I am thankful for and just give myself positive affirmations.  This allows you to not be dizzy/lightheaded after the deep state of relaxation you just put your brain in! Also, I pop up from my meditation feeling energized and refreshed.

You may be thinking…20 minutes a day?!

That means I have to wake up 20 minutes earlier than usual?!  But 20 minutes is honestly nothing compared to what you’ll gain from practicing meditation.  Meditation will become such a part of your morning routine it will be like brushing your teeth. No joke!  Like I said, I have never, ever missed a morning meditation in 3 years. Even when I’ve been soooo tired or haven’t felt like doing it.  The benefits I get from it are just too good to miss out on.  You can meditate in your bed, in a cab, on a train, in an airplane, at a friend’s house, laying out by the pool, at your desk chair – anywhere.  You can meditate with the lights on, with people talking in the background. Even with horns honking, or in complete silence.

 So what are you waiting for?!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s Wellness Wednesday post. It’s one that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time!  A big congrats to Emily from Virginia for winning last week’s giveaway!  This week’s giveaway is an entire box of Bliss Spa goodies for you and your bestie.  Each box comes 10 full size Bliss Spa products including a clay mask, facial cleanser, bath bomb, makeup remover, makeup wipes, foaming cleanser, body wash, and lemon & sage moisturizer (which is to die for.).  To enter this giveaway, Subscribe to my Youtube and newsletter, Follow me on Instagram and like any of my last 3 photos. Also, leave me a comment below saying “Subscribed and Followed”!  Winner will be announced next Monday. Good luck!

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Fillyboo dress (also love this one and this one)
Cult Gaia bag  |  Julie Vos necklace and bangles

Jessica Alexander Photography

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