Starting a Practice is Not Easy
I remember when I was first told to try to do meditation to manage my own anxiety. It was in 2009–2010 after I was almost fired from a job, my family sued me in the context of an estate battle, and the person (whom I thought I was going to marry) ghosted me after almost two years of dating. I was a mess. I was angry. I honestly didn’t know what to do.
Meditation was not exactly new for me. I had been taught how to teach mindfulness based meditation in graduate school. Yet, I was very skeptical. While we were working with very depressed patients, we were supposed to teach them to be more “mindful” of their eating patterns by teaching them how to eat chocolate more mindfully. Given their high levels mental health needs, I thought this was a waste of time and absolutely ridiculous. In hindsight, we needed less eating and more moving our bodies but I did not know that at the time!
In 2011 I found myself in a therapist’s office dealing with a difficult life transition. She had just given me a checklist to assess my level of self-compassion and I was deficient to say the least in this skill. I think most perfectionistic, type A New Yorkers are. The solution, she told me, was meditation.
I was not exactly on the meditation bandwagon back in those days. While I did practice on and off, my therapist was challenging me to become more committed. I, however, was having trouble sitting. My therapist suggested that I start with walking meditation. “WTF is that,” I asked. She explained to me that any regular activity can be a form of meditation if you can slow down enough to focus on the sensations of what is happening in the present moment. When you first start, you really have no idea what your therapist is telling you. You don’t understand what the present moment is and you are frustrated that someone else can’t take the pain away.
We often do not try meditation until we desperately need to make changes in our life. Often these moments are triggered by a major breakup. That is okay. Whatever brings you to trying meditation is just part of your journey. The key, when you are just starting out, is to follow your own body’s needs.
Why Moving Meditation May be Beneficial to Beginning a Practice
In my workshop a couple of weekends ago, a number of men commented that they feel the same sensations of meditation when they run. Yes, that makes sense. ANY activity that you do where you are focusing on that activity and are in the present moment, is equivalent to meditation. Therefore, if you have an active running practice, are able to focus while working out, are a dancer or an artist, or already have some kind of ritual that help get you out of your head — it is okay to do more of that activity as part of your “meditation” practice. These activities are a wonderful way to prepare for a date or help you heal from heartache!
The Key to Starting
It matters less of what type of activity or style of meditation that you choose to do than the commitment and consistency of starting a practice. This is why many people will try to do just a couple of minutes of meditation or a moving meditation first thing in the morning. It is in the mindset that matters most in the beginning, not in whether you are doing it “right.” When it comes to dating, I like adding some form of meditation to a pre-date ritual in order to calm the nerves and to prepare to show up to be the best date possible.
Why Meditation Matters While Dating
The majority of my time is spent with clients who are spinning out of control due to trying to interpret a text message, a date’s behavior, or what to do next to “get” the person they desire. While a dating strategy is a worthwhile investment, your strategy simply will not work if you are stuck in your head. Your anxiety can be felt by your date and it is the energy that will repel them away rather than bring them towards you. Dating is one of the wonderful ways we can begin to practice not taking other people’s behavior personally and begin the focus on the self necessary to end up in a real, life-long committed relationship.
If you are prone to anxiety (like I am), a meditation practice will be crucial to clearing your energy prior to making decisions in your dating life.
How to use Meditation While Dating
As part of a pre-date ritual.
Anxiety can be heightened prior to a date. Doing some mindful breathing prior to meeting can help curb the monkey brain. You can use this simple technique to set yourself up for success. Say to yourself: I am breathing in love and support, I am breathing out joy and happiness.
As part of a post-date analysis.
We all know that we should just take a date for what it is, a fun evening. Turning off the analysis can be incredibly difficult. Instead of fighting with yourself, it is better to sit down for mediation and prepare for a journal writing session.
- Prepare your space with all the items that you love and make you feel safe. Have your journal and a pen nearby.
- Sit in a cross legged position. Sitting against a wall is also helpful.
- Sit in padahirasana (breathe balancing pose) or with your hands crossed and under your armpits. This pose helps balance your breathing and your energy. When you feel calmer, you may drop your hands face up on your lap.
- Focus on saying thank you to the person you had a date with. Notice what thoughts are coming up and do not judge them.
- Ask yourself if there is anything you need to know about this person. Notice what thoughts come up.
- Ask to release yourself from the energy of this person so you can move forward with you day to day routine. Notice whether this is an easy or difficult task to complete.
- After you have sat for a few minutes, write in your journal any and all thoughts, feelings, or ideas that have come to mind.
- At the end of your journaling, simply say thank you for the experience.
As part of healing a breakup.
Nothing is more difficult than trying to move on from a failed relationship. The key is to remember that there is nothing to “fail” at. There is disappointment that things did not go the way you wanted them to, but there usually is a reason for that! A meditation practice as described above can help you process your emotions so you don’t act them out and get to the point of wanting to key someone’s car (not that you would — just saying!)
Cord Cutting is a specific type of meditation aimed at cutting the energy between you and the person who is taking up all the space in your mind. It can be a powerful way to take care of your own energy. I prefer to make a ritual of cord-cutting by sitting in my bathtub with my favorite candles and oils (and perhaps a glass of wine) and breathe my way through the pain. If you are interested in a different cord cutting meditation, reach out to me here.
Final Thoughts on Mediation and Dating
All relationships tend to be better as we go through the process of learning to take care of our own emotional needs. It is in this process you are able to heal any co-dependent tendencies and show up for an adult relationship. Meditation may be something to try or you may have your own practices already. The key is to recognize that your commitment to personal development will ultimately lead you to the right relationships. You just have to be able to close off the noise and listen to your intuition.
Previously published on medium.com
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