legs up the wall

Guided Meditation Used to Freak Me Out

A strange woman’s voice repeating affirmations: “You are strong. You are.”

No thanks, I’m good.

A strange man’s voice cooing analogies: “You are strong like a tree. You are the tree.”

No, I’m not. I’m just a girl.

It took me a long time to get into meditation. Even when I was learning about it in my Yoga teacher training, I struggled with it. I wanted to move, flow through the postures—not sit quietly with myself.

I know a lot of people can relate. I’ve heard others say they want to meditate but they don’t know how. Of course, they also say that they don’t have time. But like anything else that’s good for us, we have to make time…because it’s worth it.

Over time I’ve learned to sit somewhat quietly with myself and I spend a few minutes each day doing a morning meditation. I say “somewhat quietly” because my mind often gets ahead of me and wants to think about work. I don’t punish myself for this, I simply remind myself to breathe.

What makes people give up meditation early on is the ideal image we all hold in our minds. Funny that we have expectations like this, but we do.

We picture this peaceful state of mind, with no chatter, and perhaps a vision quest that takes us to a babbling brook, where we are listening to a serene symphony of bird-chirping while our faces are bathed in radiant sunshine.

Well, folks. This is what my meditation looks like…

meditation at home

There is no perfect Yoga outfit and blanket…just a bunch of mismatched everything in front of the closet on the bedroom floor.

You’ll notice I’m not sitting while I meditate. Well, that’s because you don’t have to if it’s not comfortable for you. After a long day at my computer, bound dutifully to an office chair, sitting on the floor doesn’t work for me.

It’s true that lying down, especially during evening meditation, makes it more challenging to stay awake. A happy medium for me is Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani). It’s one of my all-time favorites, and the benefits of this gentle inversion are vast—soothe tired legs, calm the nervous system, improve circulation, etc.

Anyway, back to this guided meditation thing.

A few months ago I decided I needed more meditation in my life, in the evenings after work. As part of my goal to reduce screen time, I thought this was a good way to rest my eyes and calm my mind before bed.

But naturally at the end of a hectic day, trying to sit quietly with myself wasn’t working. So, despite my lifelong suspicions of guided meditation with its hippie rainbows and pep talks, I decided to explore my options.

I’ve been a YogaGlo subscriber for several years, and they have no shortage of meditation classes. I’ve played both the teacher and the student, and I know it’s important to take the time to find someone you connect with.

For meditation, that someone was David Harshada Wagner.

As most of you know, I love the no BS approach. David is a master of this. He actually works a lot with men, so there is no fluffy stuff. His teachings are very straight-forward and actionable to your life. That’s exactly the kind of teacher that inspires me.

Last night I took a very special class of his called Fierce Sweet Wise. It hit me hard, and tears released from my eyes three times during the 20-minute session.

I didn’t cry, I released. They are two very different things.

This was one of those times where meditation caught me off guard, displacing my expectations. It’s not about the peaceful make-believe scene, it’s about ourselves and our lives. You know…the real shit.

I’m not going to take you on my personal journey from this meditation, because honestly, it’s too personal for me to share. I’m simply inviting you to consider these ideas that David mentioned.

When you look at the situations in your life, where could you benefit from being more fierce, more sweet, more wise? Strangely, this trio of words covers a hell of a lot.

yoga arm balance

FIERCE

Being fierce isn’t just a Tyra Banks modeling tip.

Is there a creative project you’ve abandoned because you’ve been busy? Be more fierce with your commitment and get after it.

Are you taking on too much at work to the point of burnout and exhaustion? Stand up for yourself. It’s okay to say no. If you get fired for saying no to protect your health, find another job with more balance.

SWEET

Sometimes without meaning to, we become harsh in certain areas of our lives. We don’t typically want to examine ourselves in this light, but if you look around, you’ll notice there are times when you’re not being sweet.

It’s a common behavior in our society, because we wear heavy armor every day to protect ourselves. But as David said in this meditation…

Open your heart and let your sweetness pour forward. Be a little bit more forgiving, a little bit more loving. You don’t have to worry about being taken advantage of, because you’re already fierce.

WISE

This is not about what’s right or wrong, but what’s true or false for you. David brings on the tough love here and asks: Are there areas in your life where you’re just being plain stupid?

Umm…yes, David.

We ALL have those areas of stupidity—no matter how many books we’ve read, no matter how many life experiences we’ve had. And if we have the courage to face our stupid moments, we can use wisdom to make positive changes.

So, yeah. That’s what I learned before I went to bed last night. And hey, it only required 20 minutes of my time.

Hope you all can take a moment to pause and find the fierceness, sweetness, and wisdom in your lives.

Have you ever tried guided or unguided meditation before? What did you think?


WWII thriller

33 thoughts on “Guided Meditation Used to Freak Me Out

  1. roughwighting says:

    Ohhh, this post is just lovely. In fact, this post is fierce and sweet and smart. Thanks for the idea of meditating in the inversion posture. I’ve never tried that and I can’t wait to meditate tomorrow morning in that position. And for me I am sometimes too sweet and I forget the fierce. But I would not change my sweetness for anything. It’s what makes me see the beautiful colors in the world every day. Namaste.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Hope you enjoy Legs Up the Wall for your meditation practice, hon. I discovered it one night when I was too tired to lay down and sitting was uncomfortable. It’s always been one of my favorite restorative postures, so I thought…why not try it for meditation?

      Sweetness is good, but a little fierceness mixed in is even better. Sometimes us sweet ones need to put our foot down. This will usually shock the hell out of people, so enjoy! 🙂

      Namaste.

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    “no fluffy stuff”—That’s exactly what I would need because I’m about as new-agey as a turnip. I don’t routinely meditate (big surprise there), but I know I probably should. But I do yoga, and sometimes I’ll remain in corpse pose for a while afterward and try to empty out my mind. I guess that’s meditating too.

    “Fierce, sweet, wise”—I love that combination.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I really don’t like the fluffy stuff either, doll. I’ve been like that with every type of teacher, and I understand that in Yoga, you can end up in a class that is WAY out there. I like it straight up, not too serious, and a strategic cuss word makes my day. 🙂

      Savasana is the restorative dessert of a Yoga practice and it is totally meditative. I have sorted out my mind many times during those few minutes. Essentially the Yoga postures are meant to prep your body for meditation, which is why Savasana feels so yummy at the end…and why students rushing out of class and skipping that part are truly missing out.

      I love that word combo as well. David is a writer too, and it shows.

  3. cravesadventure says:

    I have tried yoga and for some reason cannot shut off the hamster wheel of my brain while in corpse pose. I had one yoga teacher that I struggled with because a-okay was her word – it drove me to fits of giggles as well as nutso. I have found my meditation practice though in getting out into the great outdoors and becoming one with my natural surroundings. I also have two other great practices; massage every month and getting a good night’s sleep (I live pretty much on a busy freeway, so it has become essential).

    Happy Practicing . . . Happy Weekend – Enjoy 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I used to struggle with Savasana too, Renee. Not sure where your mind went, but mine habitually went on to the next thing—all the stuff I needed to get done after class (make dinner, run errands, etc). Because it signifies the end of class, sometimes we get ahead of ourselves.

      Those are all wonderful practices. Working more regular massages back into my life this year. They are incredibly healthy!

  4. Audrey Kalman says:

    I have practiced sitting meditation on and off for more than twenty years. The key word being “practiced.” 🙂 I often do better with moving meditation. To me that means walking mindfully: no earbuds, just me and my feet and wherever they are going, paying attention to my breath coming in and out, to the sidewalk, the trees, sky, cars, whatever is there in front of me.

    I’ve also been caught off guard a few times by an unexpected release of emotion after a yoga class. It’s eye-opening.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Walking mindfully is a fantastic option, Audrey. I do this a lot without music and definitely without staring at my phone. It’s so peaceful and an awesome way to take a quick break.

      Emotional release at the end of class can happen to anyone…and it’s a beautiful thing. One of our test questions during teacher training was: What do you do if a student is crying in Savasana? Then we had to work out the most respectful and gentle way of handling the situation, so the student felt safe to have that moment.

  5. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Yes, so many times I fail to be sweet. I love the photo of you meditating. My son has a “flat cat” pillow stuffy that looks just like the black blanket lying over your abdomen. I giggled. Thank you. And yes, I try to meditate. I have a singing bowl. I LOVE how it focuses me and makes me listen. I never know what I’m going to hear. My son loves it, too. I’ve seen it used with groups of kids, and it’s amazing how it will get them to stop and listen.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      We all fail to be sweet, Jilanne. I had several moments flash in my mind when David was talking about that, just from the past week or so. Good reminder for us to think more before we speak or act.

      Flat cat pillow…that sounds like something I would have! It was actually my robe that I had across my stomach, because I needed just the right temp to get comfortable. 😉

      I should get one of those bowls! I forget if you know Karin (https://karinvandenbergh.wordpress.com/) but she works with bowls all the time.

      Kids are very drawn to meditation and Yoga in general, so that doesn’t surprise me. Back when I was teaching dance to kids, I started throwing in some Yoga and they were all about it.

  6. Les Petits Pas de Juls says:

    I find no time for yoga, even less so for meditation. I guess I do so without realizing it when in the subway, closing my eyes and focusing on my breathing for a few minutes, but that’s nothing compared to what you do at home.
    why has the stressed, rapid Parisian life caught up with my wanting to find calm and peace of mind? how have I let myself down? no idea, but right now, I seem to be unable to do that meditation necessity.
    where can I find David’s mediations?

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Honey, you went through a lot of changes when you moved back to Paris, and you haven’t been with Raul. It’s tough to get into a groove with all of that going on. I had a steady Yoga and meditation practice when I was in Milwaukee, then I moved here and struggled with it for about a year. I’ve slowly come back to it, and it feels awesome, but I did have to work at it.

      David’s meditations are on YogaGlo, which is how I practice at home. They have a ton of Yoga classes on there with excellent teachers. It’s only $18/month and they have a free trial…this might be a good way for you to reconnect with your practice. Works great for me since I’m super busy!

  7. Letizia says:

    I have the same camouflage leggings! Yay, us!
    Ok, fashion excitement aside, I love this post, as I do all your posts. I used to practice sitting meditation but now do a lot more walking mediation and find that really works for me. I love Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings and reread them often.
    Thanks for another great, inspiring post my friend!

  8. Kate Johnston says:

    I have never been successful with meditation, but I know that’s because I haven’t tried hard enough. I’m always thinking, and I’m a very restless person. I’m sure if I committed myself to it, I’d see results. I like your suggestions here, especially the leg up pose — that actually looks pretty comfortable!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Pretty sure Restless is my middle name, instead of Anne. 😉

      That’s why I’ve made a substantial effort with meditation these past six months. As my job has gotten more demanding and I’m trying to juggle life and passions, I knew I had to do something to balance myself out so I didn’t end up giving up on my writing dreams. I came pretty damn close, because I felt like I couldn’t handle everything. Now I’m in a different place…thankfully.

      Legs up the Wall is a very accessible inversion, doll. I sometimes read in that position just to sneak in the health benefits of the pose regularly.

  9. Andrea Stephenson says:

    Your meditation looks very relaxing, I may have to try that version. Meditation for me goes in fits and starts – I do it for a while, then I stop, then I start again…never really got to grips with the best practice for me. I’ve tried guided visualisation for magical work, but never really a guided meditation – interesting questions though. Fierce jumped out at me, I need to be fiercer 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Hey, honey! I was in the same boat with on again off again meditation, but I’ve made an effort these past six months to be “on” even when I feel like I don’t have time. Positioning is something I’ve played with, because I don’t love sitting at the end of the day.

      Guided meditation has grown on me, only because I found the right teacher to guide me. I’ve tried some others that were just WAY out there. That may work for others, but David is more my speed.

      Fierce, sweet, and wise…such an incredible combo, right? Get down with your fierce self, Andrea! 🙂

  10. Minuscule Moments says:

    Love it Britt I have been doing a meditation now since xmas and I know its different for everyone. Funny I googled meditation tapes and they all have birds and soft music. When I sit on my deck I have the mountains, fresh air and birds twittering. I try different things when my yoga teacher gives us new things to think about. My mantra is about having no regrets, no resistants and finding the endless love and opportunities in my day. Very early stages for me but now I can quiet the mind for a few minutes but I don’t beat myself up if thoughts keep coming. The days I don’t do it I feel out of whack now. Hoping I can do it for the rest of my life.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I know you have, love! That’s super awesome. Haha, that is funny about the birds! I bet you’re thinking…can I have some different relaxing sounds here? These pretty birds are old news.

      Sounds like you’re on the right track, Kath. It’s super important not to beat ourselves up during meditation when thoughts come up. Obviously, getting frustrated with ourselves is a tad counter-productive when we’re trying to relax. It’s a natural thing, so we really just need to roll with it!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Absolutely, Gallivanta. You should give it a try. I would only do a few minutes to start for Legs up the Wall and see how you feel. I’ve worked up to longer sessions over time.

      A lot of people said they want to be more fierce. Think it’s a hard one for a lot of us to embrace, because we don’t want to come off the wrong way. BUT…it’s important to stand up for ourselves and get after things too!

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