I’ve Been Meditating, Can You Tell?
04.14.15

meditation retrate post 1

I hit a wall at some point during the last week of March when for the 4732264267th time that month (an impressive number to achieve given the 31-day, 24 hour-per-day restriction), I felt like there was hot lava oozing out of my head, down my shoulders then grazing my elbows and falling to the ground. It took a second, but I realized that this is what burning out feels like. So my partner-in-the-bedroom recommended that I take more seriously a technique he’s been practicing since late 2014 called Transcendental Meditation.

Here is where I could begin to tell you that I was dubious about meditating, positive it wouldn’t work for me, yadi yadi ya until I finally flipped a 180-degree switch like the subject of a diet-pill infomercial and began evangelizing with the conviction of dentist at a flossing convention about meditation, about how “enlightening” it has been to shut down for twenty minutes, twice a day, to allow my body to fall into a state of metabolic rest, but the fact of the matter is: I’ve only been doing it for three days. I don’t know what that will mean for the rest of my life, or even week, but I do know that 1) I have become more trendy by the standards of downtown New York 2) more atheist by the standards of most Jewish mothers and 3) less inclined to chew gum. I don’t know if there is actually a correlation there but I’m going with it.

And for that reason alone, I’ve submitted myself to complete a 30-day challenge — a long-form Man Repeller “diet,” if you will.

So, I’m on the Contemplation Trail (similar to a campaign trail but less suits, more caftans) through May 11th and you’re coming along for the ride — cool? Of my infantile experience thus far, I have this to say:

At 2:36 p.m. today I tried to find a quiet corner in my office building to engage in my day’s second meditation and found that just next to the large dumpster in the stairwell across from the communal bathroom was indubitably the place. About 3 minutes in, our superintendent saw me — legs laying out flat, eyes closed and head tilted forward. He panicked and yelled for Amelia: “I think she’s dead!”

“I’m just meditating,” I told him, and so was born the best excuse for falling asleep in inappropriate places.

See you at the two-week check up!

Curious, though, how many of you meditate? Share anything in the locutionary dumpster below.

Miu Miu dress and Vince blouse pictured in GIF

Curious to read an update on Leandra’s Meditation Journey Click here.

Get more Beauty ?
  • I tend to find being alone with my own thoughts a bit frightening. I have a few apps for guided meditation, which I always find funny that an iphone would help with such practice, since the most common first step would be to PUT THE DAMN PHONE AWAY! I mostly use them when I can’t sleep, but I think I’ll give midday meditation a whirl. GREAT excuse to shut my office door.

  • Allie Fasanella

    Heavily into that Mui Mui dress, first of all. I think meditation seems very appealing, mostly because of the excusatory benefits. I’m just not sure how I could ever turn off my mind completely. i was talking to this girl recently who said she’s become essentially addicted to meditating. She does it like 10 times a day, whenever she’s feeling remotely stressed. They’re out of the spicy chicken sandwich at wendy’s; shut’s mind down in the drive thru.

    Rock on Medine. I hope it works for you!

    • Leandra Medine

      So what I’m learning is that the goal of TM is NOT to turn your mind off completely, you’re supposed to let your thoughts come and go as they will without trying to control them. it’s more a matter of keeping your eyes closed for 20 minutes in the middle of the day and allowing your body to remain still which has so far made me feel so much more focused. could totally totally be a placebo thing but honey badger don’t give a shit. whatever works, you know?

      • Allie Fasanella

        Ohh, gotchu. Yeah, exactly! Glad it’s workin 🙂

      • Yes. About being a passive observer of your own thoughts and your own being.

      • I’ve been trying to meditate for ten minutes after lunch. I go in a quiet room in my office building and just close my eyes and be still. While I don’t shut my mind off, I focus on that phrase, “be still.” Be still my body. Be still my heart. The mind naturally tends to be more still after the ten minutes are up! When I really want to be intentional about clearing my mind, I close my eyes and imagine a blue pearl glowing in darkness. Not sure where I picked that up but it works for me!

    • Kelsey Moody

      In high school I meditated a lot and I found that having a mantra to match your breathing helps get you started in those difficult first 5 mins and envisioning some place you love helps you get into a peaceful mindset– then just let your mind take a walk! On a sillier day back then, my mantra was: (inhale) who, (exhale) farted.

      • Allie Fasanella

        Hahaha. I might really give that a try. I feel like I could use something like meditation in my life right now

      • ashley

        i love this method! i was recently told by a midwife to start meditating, and the only time i’ve succumbed has been in the tub. the breathing thing is something i remember from prana power union square with wesley. so far i’ve only tried (inhale) baby, (exhale) bad. but it helps!

  • amy anonymous

    it’s a trap. I’ve been there and explored hard. it’s a precursor to a zombie state. a keen attentiveness to perception should be happening continually throughout the entire waking day. there should be no need to regiment yourself to shut off twice a day for 20 minutes, or for someone to give you a mantra. this does not promote freedom of mind, but control, and is counter productive in the end.

    • Leandra Medine

      can you talk me through more of this? you’ve tried TM and found that it didn’t work for you? were you allowing for three minutes post meditation to come out of metabolic rest? (seriously curious) — i think the idea of being keenly attentive 24/7 is a lovely one but likely very difficult (for me possibly impossible) to achieve. i’m not sure how “quieting your mind” or just zoning out for a little under one hour during the course of let’s say a consciously awake 16-17 hour day could be harmful but again, i’m new. would love to hear more

      • amy anonymous

        this will require some profound thought but…

        each form of meditation is actually the antithesis of meditation itself..

        Each form of meditation based on a discipline, a practice, a scheme, an achievement, a goal.. is actually no more but a sum of stratagems to cover up our own confusions & fears.

        Each form of meditation aimed to get closer & closer to ‘god’ is simply a self intellectual illusion to drug the psyche, then collectively accepted.

        Each form of meditation aimed to achieve consciousness leads to self-hypocrisy ’cause consciousness has nothing to do with ‘practices and techniques to reach consciousness’, nor with disciplines and ‘spiritual paths’..

        Each form of meditation aimed to control the mind so to ‘liberate’ the mind itself is actually an act of self-violence ’cause with (whatever) control there can’t be psychic liberation at all ! (Mind must be a partner, not a tyrant nor an object of control, nor even an exploited servant).

        It is true that a real meditation produces, cerebral, ‘theta waves’ able to heal the body and to calm down the mind.. but the fact is that we are supposed to live, fully, the experiencing of that thing called ‘life’ in all of its aspects.. and by doing so we cannot meditate 24/7 crossed legs under a tree..

        The perceptive observation of our inner journey with no polluted decoding’s nor conditioning’s, nor practices, nor theories, nor judgments, nor comparison… is the only tangible and effective spontaneous ‘meditation’ we can do.

        The spontaneous self-liberation of our own sensitivity and self-observation without conditioning’s nor control, nor techniques, nor practices…(meaning: the liberation of the psyche from fear).. is meditation.

        All other meditative & spiritual stratagems are just opium, illusory tools, business or just craziness to cover up the possibility to achieve a honest self-full-total-observation dismantling all conditioning’s and illusions within the psyche.

        Meditation without meditation.. IS meditation

        • Courtney

          Yes! It’s like the story about the guy who is really calm and serene in his quiet, dimly lit meditation room, until his curious young daughter knocks on the door to ask him what he’s doing and he yells angrily, ‘Go away and leave me alone, can’t you see I’m meditating!’.

          A purely formal meditative practice may be limiting. In order to attain true peace and evolve, we must learn to function in constant everyday life from beyond the thinking mind. We need to cultivate our capacity to selectively use our mind as a tool, rather than needing meditation spaces and tools to control our mind.

          Easier said than done though! Perhaps TM can offer an initial portal to experience a higher frequency of life. (But with a cautionary note to not get attached to the portal! The finger pointing to the moon is not the moon). Then perhaps open up to sensory perception or breathing as a portal, and from there, awakening (capacity to function beyond the thinking mind) will begin to unfold spontaneously.

          Wishing you an incredible journey inward Leandra!

          • amy anonymous

            it’s easy to think that TM can offer an initial portal, but as far as not getting attached to the portal – well, attachment to their specific practice is what they’re all about! 2x a day every day, with this mantra, etc. It’s a bandaid for a very deep wound. it’s a coverup for massive confusion. It has to begin with attentive observation of our thoughts, our mind, our fear, and a personal process of peeling away all of the layers of garbage that has been dumped on our psyche since birth.

        • I agree with you – what you say is profound and true. Absolutely extradoniary.
          Yes, mindfulness is obviously and ultimately the connection to who we are truly (which is Spirit in physical form). Therefore, in order to become aware of the Now, and in essence “enlightened” there is a need for us to be in a process, to begin the path of waking up.
          We cannot expect to suddenly become fully awake, to know that we are Spirit in physical form, without an awakening practice in the beginning. Because we are simply humans, having a limited understanding of who we are actually…until we are actually there. TM on one hand is a mantra based meditation process, and there is a lot of money that people make to supply mantras to individuals. It is my understanding (from my limited perspective), that you can meditate under a tree (or with the tree), or chant the sound of shalom or om and get the same results as a TM mantra. Mindfulness (as in Thict Naht Hanh) on the other hand is to be in the process of being fully present whilst walking, bathing, eating, talking and existing.
          The mindfulness is connecting you to the Now, which in truth may connect you to the profound silence. This is not meant to be a beat up on TM, because since the time of The Beatles and before, TM has transformed many peoples lives (including my mums) but rather this I believe we shouldn’t be creating doctrines because meditation is supposed to be freeing. Silence is necessary. X Ondine http://www.thealchemists.com.au

  • Good for you!! I’ve started incorporating mindfulness into my daily life and it is truly remarkable how much it has positively influenced my ability to handle everyday life. I have always had a decent ability to not stress the little things in life, but mindfulness has truly helped me in moving forward from the things that truly don’t matter.

  • Christina Hughes

    I actually just began meditating for the past week! I am a musician, and I find that it really helps when preparing for orchestral auditions and general stresses in everyday life. It was really challenging the first time because I felt like my mind had so many random thoughts, but instead of trying to eliminate them, I just accepted each one and let them pass through my head. I have fallen asleep a few times, but I think that is supposed to be a good sign. It’s only been ten minutes a day so far for me, but I hope to make it a regular part of my life!

  • ThisPersonSleeps

    Never done it but I’ve thought about it! Yoga is about as close as I come to mediating.

  • Michaela Williams

    I’m finding it ironic that you just posted this, considering my therapist, Rebecca (great Biblical name, huh?), told me yesterday at my weekly appointment that I should start meditating. We meditated together for about two minutes. At the end, she asked what thoughts kept creeping in while I was trying to clear my mind. The only thing I kept thinking was, “I’m so tired from work that I could literally fall asleep right now.” Clearly I’m already really good at it.

  • Katherine Sargeant

    I just take naps as often as I can. Works wonders

  • Andrea Raymer

    I do yoga regularly, so I guess that counts even though I don’t really approach it from the meditative perspective. I am, however, a church girl so I do try to take time to reflect and pray and use it as my form of meditation and integrate some positive thinking into my day since I tend to freak out over ridiculous things like my computer’s fan being too loud.

  • Yoga and meditation helped me so much when I was first diagnosed with PTSD. It took some time but the over all result was life changing for me.

    • Leandra Medine

      do you still meditate?

      • Every morning! And peridocicly throughout the day if I get overwhelmed I’ll close my eyes for a few minutes with my hands on my stomach and concentrate on my breathing.

      • Also, at first I thought it was all such bs because I had tried so many things and nothing helped. After 2 years of meditating I can honestly say it has changed the way I deal with stress and frustrating situations.

  • Tricia Perez

    I had a college roomie who would sit on her bed before class in the morning and verbalize everything that bothered her that morning. After speaking out loud, she found inner peace in the fact that shit aint all that bad.
    I’ve adopted it and it helps. Its not super structured meditation but it helps as a reality/priority check.
    Also, Leandra, I have the biggest girl crush on you.

  • Maggie Clancy

    I am finally hopping back into yoga, which I think inherently has some meditative properties to it. My boyfriend meditates and seems to be about it, so I think I may take a stab at it as well. I too look dead when I meditate, though.

    maggie
    http://www.shopean.etsy.com

  • nata99

    There have been quite a lot of studies (of varying quality) done investigating the health benefits of mindfulness-based meditation. There is nothing really conclusive but most of the evidence does seem to point towards it being beneficial for reducing stress (it increases the parasympathetic and decreases the sympathetic nervous system activity). At my lab there is a group currently investigating the beneficial effects of meditation (if you were closer to Sweden I would totally try to recruit you as a subject 🙂 ) and that’s been enough to make me decide to take up the practice as well. Challenge accepted!

  • stuff

    I’ve heard you have to pay for TM. What’s the difference in TM and plain ol’ meditating?

  • i ‘meditate’ while i run, anytime i’m walking / transporting alone, working in the studio, cooking dinner… solitary moments. i have found the most vital skill i’ve learned is to simply recognize how i am feeling.

    “i am anxious right now. okay. my breathing is different, my neck is tense.”
    “i feel so relieved. what a luxurious feeling.”

    it sounds silly and simple but it used to be difficult to find the headspace to connect with myself in this way – no judgement, no solution, no explanation. for me ‘meditating’ is just taking a moment to observe my present experience of the world, without exposition. just a small, lucid moment. “okay.”

  • This is a funny coincidence because meditation was recently recommended to me as a way to cope with a lot of generalized anxiety and panic attacks. I don’t even know where to begin; not really looking for enlightenment or even focus, I just need a constructive way to calm the F down. Looking forward to hearing how it works for you, Leandra!

  • Ryan

    Hope you enjoy! Sounds very peaceful- if you ever want to get away to a cold sunny beach with montana waters and mountains to stare at- i invite you to come visit me. Ive sent you some communications recently, but have not heard anything back. This shows me i live on earth- and nothings perfect. Enjoy your day, share what you learn- and repeat it tomorrow 😉 i love ya- the books says you have met me in the past- i wonder if you’ll recongize me-

  • My Dad has been practicing TM for over 30 years, and put me and my brother through a course when we were in college. He was adamant that we learn it because he has seen such great results. In college, I was more dedicated to doing it twice a day (because I had more free time), but now try to do it at least in the morning after I finish getting ready.

    As someone who has been practicing for almost 10 years, I can definitely tell the difference between the days I do meditate and the days I don’t. Whenever I call my dad to complain about life and stress and work and whatever, his first question is always, “Have you been meditating?” And you know what? The answer is usually, “no.”

    I also find there is a cumulative effect — if I practice regularly, I am overall less stressed, have the ability to think more clearly, and come up with more imaginative ideas. And all of that more easily than when I’m not meditating.

    Leandra, I highly recommend that you stick with it. Developing the ability to be able to just sit quietly with your thoughts is almost enough of a benefit on its own, especially because there is no such thing as totally shutting off all that noise. Best of luck! What an excellent path to start down!

    • Meg Ramsay

      True inspiration girl! I’ve been on my own meditation journey, and so far so good ! The important thing when you’re just starting out, or even after, is to value your meditation time, so you never miss it, and try not too lose sight of how important it is, or how amazing it makes you feel on the long term.
      Anyway – thanks for sharing!
      Meg @ its.meg-ramsay.com

  • Chelsea Adilia Rojas

    I’ve long wanted to try meditating and have been encouraged by various sources to do so. However, I am always quick to find excuses as to why I don’t have a spare 20 minutes. Silly, considering I could zone out on the toilet looking at Instagram for a solid 10. In fact, this could be the closest I’ve gotten to TM. That and yoga.

    Best of luck in your challenge!

  • t10543

    wow, how neat! i’m a TM meditator myself (have been since i was able to get my program- thanks, mom!) and really found that it helps me so much! it’s really good with being able to calm yourself and look at things in more of a bigger picture—not worrying about the minutia and more focused on the general path. it’s nice for me (as a high school student) because it helps me perform better in the classroom, in potentially hazardous social situations, and when i’m working towards a deadline. i’ve found that me as a person is much less stressed than others with the same academics and extra-curriculars.
    though, here’s a protip: if you can, take like a ten minute nap after you come out of your program- it helps the stress dissolve even more and will hopefully make your meditation more meaningful and worthwhile.
    hopefully TM will be as great for you as it has been for me and my family!

    signed, someone who (ironically) has the initials tm!

  • Linda

    I have tried meditation many times unsuccessfully. Goes something like this. Picturing the peaceful beach and the sound of the waves… Why doesn’t my 14 year old son like me?…did I pay the electric bill?…no no no just think about the beach. Hear the waves..seagulls flying over me .. Hope they don’t poop on me…. I should call my mom more often …I’m hungry but I’m trying to diet.. Bam I’m up and looking in the fridge!

  • Sarah Crawford

    Can’t wait to try this. I’ll probably forget about it pretty quickly but zoning in and out of consciousness during a 50 minute class every day counts, right?

  • Kait Forsythe

    Meditation is difficult at first. I found a mantra and I have a focal point. It’s much like staring a dot on a wall about 6-8inches away from your face. I focus on the dot while saying my mantra and let all other thoughts drop away. There is no good or bad meditation. I heard once in a speech, meditation is like getting your appendix out- you don’t feel any different afterwards but you know that you are healthier now. The benefits appear in small ways. Stillness is sweet.

  • Rebecca Byass

    I’m in the 5th Week of Mindfulness Meditation….[copies and pastes for wiki] “the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.”

    It seems to be creating space in my day to be aware of all the thoughts, pressures, anxieties that would otherwise be bouncing around at the back of my head while desperately trying to concentrate on whatever-it-is-i-want-to-concentrate-on (often a task of procrastination in order to avoid worrying about the things i’d rather keep at the back of my brain).

    Not only that, it is also training my head to remember that it is not in charge of the whole reality – my emotions and thoughts are not the dictators of the cosmos (a novel thought, i know!). I have begun to take a step back from uncomfortable emotions or sensations and look at them for what they are. Thoughts that would have caused a spiral into anxiety or depression have taken their proper place as just that, thoughts.

    For example, I got rejected for a job i’ve been working up to applying for for a long time. Normally that rejection would have left me bitter, angry, blaming and hurting in a confused muddle of pain and anguish, “too hard to bear”, resulting in my withdrawal and eventual depression. Not so this time. By practising mindfulness, developing “anchors” within reality, like the physical sensation in my big toe or in my breath, both of which exist and continue on, whether or not my heart hurts, i was able to look at the rejection for what it was and did. It hurt. It really hurt – i felt, predominantly, pain and sadness. I didn’t feel the need to protect this sensitive underbelly of my emotions with hardened anger or spiky bitterness….i could be sad, just sad, and ride that wave of emotion…being aware that my breath kept breathing and my big toe felt exactly as it did the day before i received that letter.

    My mourning and grief for that closed door lasted a couple of days, rather than months, i believe, because I took time each day to acknowledge my thoughts and feelings while becoming aware and present in the moment, hearing the birds singing or watching the sunset, both things oblivious to my own heartache.

    Mindfulness, then, is not about opting out of the daily stresses of life but about opting in to the greater reality of what’s going on right now in and around me, living life more fully.

  • Katie

    I started practising Yoga nearly two years ago, and as a part of that I have practised meditation, as well as my own private meditation. It is really not about trying to force all your thoughts out of your head, because inevitably some will pop up. Allow them to appear, acknowledge them, then let them go. Try not to latch on to them and let them take you elsewhere.
    It is also about centring yourself and remaining present, so my yoga instructor will sometimes take us through a guided meditation where she brings our awareness to every single part of the body, to the temperature of the air on our skin, etc. etc. I find this incredibly helpful, as well as focusing on my breathing.
    But essentially mediation is a very personal experience and you have to find what works for you. It doesn’t have to follow strict guidelines as long as you can find a way to get to that place where you can just feel totally ‘there’ if that makes sense? By ‘there’ I mean present, aware of your body and your surroundings, but without focusing on one specific thing, just being accepting of where you are.
    I frequently get accused by my friends of being a massive hippy, but it works for me so!

  • Yes, Leandra!
    Don’t get caught up in ignoring the thoughts that come into your head. Thats all part of the process. It’s not about turning your mind off, but quietening your thoughts and letting them sort of flit in and out of your consciousness. It’s all good baby, baby.
    G’luck! X Ondine
    http://www.thealchemists.com.au

  • Vanessa Furino

    I’ve been meditating for over a year and I’ve seen massive change. Change meaning I’ve been feeling more and more like myself and less and less a slave to what I think I need to be to fit in to the world! Keep it up girl!!

  • The app Headspace is amazing. A man with a beautiful accent talks you through the meditation process. You would think that someone talking would be distracting but his voice lulls you into a meditative state.

  • clau

    I have been meditating inconsistently for some time. When I do allow myself to take the time, I feel refreshed INSTANTLY. It’s incredible. I feel this tingling sensation in my body, almost like the way one feels after a run or workout (hello endorphins!) but much lighter in just being. And now for the breakthrough experience I once had: I experienced this state of unexplainable happiness, of ecstasy, and even felt like i was literally levitating. I’ve never done drugs, but I imagine that’s how some feel.

    • Leandra Medine

      that’s a stress release!!!!!!!!!!!!! the unfounded happiness. sometime it appears as joy sometimes as frustration but they’re all different forms of stress release. like you are literally healing affected valves that have been scarred within your nervous system over the course of your lifetime

  • MBM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFwCKKa–18 this gets rid of my headaches and helps me chill out. saved it to my phone for easy access.

  • I have heard a lot of good things about this kind of meditation. I havent tried it yet but I am very inspired to do it now after readin this!

    I look forward to reading how its working for you 🙂

    http://reloadevolve.com/

  • Cece

    Headspace. Going on the 3rd level. Awesome!

  • I’ve been very curious to try TM for a long time. However the whole notion of having to pay a lot of money for a teacher to do it properly has turned me off.

  • Leili

    Yes, yes, yes! I practice TM and found that it shrunk my general anxiety considerably and made my days feel more spacious / less chaotic. Like, for once I feel a little ahead of my day instead of chasing after it while a hungry tiger also chases me! Stick with it and the benefits will continue to grow!!

  • Great description of burnout — and sorry you had to go there — and hooray for getting into meditation. I was always skeptical and dismissive of meditation — but randomly got into it 8 years ago after a friend invited me to a class. Got lucky — the teacher was amazing, and really broke things down for me. Turns out it’s NOT about sitting around waiting for something to happen. Turns out you DON’T have to sit on the floor, or try to “clear your mind” (ugh). Turns out that 5 minutes IS enough to get going and make a massive difference.

    So now I coach people in their practice, and I teach at tech companies and such in San Francisco. My workshop at General Assembly last weekend — Be a Badass Without Losing Your Sh*t — sold out! Exciting to see that there’s such an appetite and interest.

  • Vivianne

    Thinking about starting the TM program and would LOVE an update 🙂

    • Vivianne

      To see whether you’re still doing it, how it’s going, etc.

  • Mariana

    Hi guys :)! I want to learn TM but in my country (hi from Portugal!) I can’t find anyone legit to teach me and, from what I have read, you need a instrutor to learn. My question is: is there anyway you can learn it yourself? Anyone can give me tips? Thank you from an anxiety-ADHD-who-would-benefit-ALOT-with-some-ooohooommm-person (aka Mariana)

  • yomna

    I haven’t tried TM but I have been meditating on and off since 2014. Which is not to say I’ve built any kind of meditation habit (my self motivation skills are sadly lacking) but when I keep at it for even a little while, it really shows: better temper, better sleep, better memory and recall, heightened ability to thrive under stress.

    If anyone is interested, feel free to check the results of a Harvard study claiming that meditation increases neuroplasticity:
    “The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.”

  • Katie

    I subscribed to the app Headspace in January and am shocked I’ve stuck with it (because I jump around with everything I try). It’s not TM, as it’s mostly guided, but it has many different categories (plus it’s well designed/looks sex-ay) and it works for making me actually sit and be quiet for 20 min a day. I feel a huge difference with my mood and the way I handle stress after doing it. And you can also see how many sessions/hours you’ve logged… if you’re a gold star sticker sort of person.