Why I Meditate & How to Start (with links to a video)

Back in June, I introduced the topic of meditation here on the blog. It came out of necessity: I was in the midst of a major life-stress moment. Life felt SO full of effort, SO forced, SO overwhelming, that I could barely get my body to breathe. It was not a good place, and absolutely unsustainable.

Something had to give.

The answer, the thing that helped me through this moment, came almost out of nowhere. It was a surprise. An epiphany? A moment where suddenly the answer became apparent. But what surprised me, was that there was no particular inspiration behind it. It wasn’t something I was seeking, or that was introduced to me, or that I had even considered.

But in that one fierce moment, when I was absolutely and utterly overwhelmed, not sure whether to cry or scream or fall apart, the answer arrived, without any warning, and, suddenly, I had the solution: meditation.

What I needed was to stop worrying. Stop over-analyzing. Stop churning the bad stuff over and over again in my mind. I had to let go. I had to meditate.

What?? How?? Why?!

I could spend a lifetime writing about this, friends, but let’s start here: let’s start by talking about one thing you can do, when you’re in a moment of panic, when life sucks and it’s not going to get better on its own, when something is plaguing you.

In those big life moments, what we need most is clarity. We need to be able to think. To weigh options. To make choices.

Take a moment to think back to a time when you were under serious stress. Maybe it was panic, heartache, surprise, chaos, a moment where you felt completely and utterly out of control. At a loss. At a moment of deep concern.

Those moments are SO hard, friends. And they are made harder by the fact that what they require most of you is to have presence of mind. To have clarity. And that’s usually the one thing, in those moments, that you DO NOT have.

That’s what meditation is all about.

It’s not hippie voodoo. It’s not religious or faith-based. It’s not ritualistic. It’s none of those things.

Truly, the heart of meditation is about clearing your mind.

And what you need most in times of stress – in times of emergency, in times of fear, or anxiety, or strain – is clarity of mind. The ability to think. To process. And to act.

So how do you do it?

Well, I do it in five steps:

  1. Sit down in a comfortable seated position – either on the floor or in a chair. (You can lay down here, but it’s possible that you will fall asleep. If that’s okay, or if you’re really stressed, I say lay down).
  2. If you have limited amount of time, set a timer (I use the one on my phone).
  3. Maybe play some quiet music. Maybe put on some white noise (there are lots of apps for that). Or, ideally, if you have a quiet space, be there.
  4. Close your eyes. Start to breathe deeper. Feel your feet, bum, or knees, on the floor. Concentrate there, on that point of contact. Feel the floor underneath. Concentrate on your breath. Breathe a little deeper.
  5. Clear your mind. Every time a thought comes to mind, let it go. I like to imagine thoughts turning into pieces of paper, I imagine my mind releasing the thought-papers, and letting them fall away. Or imagine them as water droplets, and let them fall together into a stream. Or imagine them as clouds, and let them pass through your mind sky. Whatever visualization helps you let go of the attachment to always thinking and leaves space for just being there. In your seat. At that moment.

For more on how to meditate, you can watch this video by Actualized.com. Just ignore the part where he says it may take years to get to the point of clearing your mind. That’s kind of crazy. It doesn’t take nearly that long. Go ahead, try it.

When life is completely overwhelming, and you’re in the grips of something – something that is stressing you, something that is overwhelming you, something that haunts you at moments when you least expect it, something that seems to relentlessly always be on your mind. When those things grip you, the best thing you can do is find a way to let go of it.

And one of the best ways to do that is through meditation.

If this post inspires you, if you decide to try it out – even once – let me know how it goes. Ask me questions. Comment. Meditation is very much an individual practice, but if you have questions, as I did, I’ll do my best to answer you.

Good luck!





Julie Love Gagen

After unexplained illness, with no diagnosis, forced me to take medical leave of absence in college, I chose yoga as a path towards healing. For me, it was a gentle way for me to get back into my body. And the experience, and practice, gave me the confidence I needed to believe I could heal. It worked. And it’s been magic ever since. In 2012, I chose to do a personal wellness challenge – 30 days of Hot Power Yoga – in celebration of my 30th birthday. The studio I picked was Baptiste Yoga in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The studio which, just a few years later, would be the inspiration and the setting for my RYT 200-hr Yoga Teacher training. The style of yoga I teach is a little different from what you’ve seen before. In my class, we focus on strengthening your core, elongating your spine, and finding the ideal position for each body, regardless of what it looks like.