While talking to someone about how bad they semi-constantly consider their nerves to be and how they also just can't seem to figure out a way to relax, I simply said to them, "Why not meditate more?" to which they replied, "Come on, Shellie. You really think that works? Whenever I've tried it, all it does is give me enough time to do more overthinking." Goodness.
First yes, I absolutely think that meditation is effective. I also believe that a lot of people would be a heck of a lot more calm, centered and self-controlled if they devoted, even 15 minutes of their morning routine, to doing it. Because while we'll have to get into the over-one-dozen forms of meditation at another time, what I will say for now is meditation is scientifically proven to reduce stress, control anxiety, lengthen one's attention span, promote self-awareness, encourage self-compassion, improve one's quality of sleep, reduce body aches and pains, make you more creative and oh so much more.
So, what if you know all of this and you're like, "I hear you but no matter how much I try, I just can't seem to do it"? If this is where you're at, first let me advise that you take a few really deep breaths and block out any noise that's around you (or at least, try really hard), so that you can devote a few minutes to some meditation hacks that could turn you into a meditation fan in no time. Ready?
1. Never Meditate “Just Because”
While this first point might sound a little odd, humor me and hear me out. Something that I tell prospective clients when they talk to me about counseling is if they're doing it only to appease their partner, it's not going to really work. In order to remain motivated, consistent and committed to real progress and change, you've got to have some solid reasons for doing…whatever it is that you decide to do.
When it comes to meditation specifically, beyond the benefits that I offered up in the intro, take some time to consider why you think it would be a wise practice for you to engage in. Are you looking for a way to spiritually center yourself ? Maybe you're trying to learn how to be more present in each moment. Could it be that you really struggle with focusing and you're hoping that meditating more will help? Maybe you want to feel less rushed in the morning (and throughout your day) or you want to learn how to radiate more kindness to yourself and those around you. Knowing your "why" can make doing the "what" so much easier. So, definitely start there first.
2. Purge First
Remember how the person in the intro said that they struggle with overthinking ? If that's your personal issue with being successful at meditating, think back to the last time that you attempted to do it. Was it after someone triggered you? Was it after a horrible day at work? Did you just get off of the phone, feeling some type of way, and so you tried to attempt it then?
While meditating does help to calm us down, it's kind of hard to do it if we're already frazzled, upset or distracted. That's why it can be super helpful if, before doing it, you actually "purge some of your emotions". By this I mean, take out your journal and write some of your thoughts down. Hit someone up you trust (who you know won't add more fuel to the fire) and do some venting. Hell, go into your bathroom, shut the door and scream if you need to. By letting out some of your pent-up energy, that will make it easier to get still — internally and physically.
3. Do It During Your Favorite Time of the Day
I'm pretty sure you've heard some version of the saying, the way you start your day predicts how you will end it. While that's not an exact science, I personally think there is a lot of truth to that. That's why I'm such a big fan of meditating first thing in the morning. The day is fresh. Life hasn't come at me at 70 MPH yet and it can help to get my mind in a good space before I start tackling my to-do list. That's not to say that there is anything wrong with meditating any other time of the day, though. In fact, if it's hard for you to meditate, it can be a really good idea to do it during your favorite time of the day.
For instance, if you adore the time between late afternoon and early evening (right as the sun is about to set), it could make meditating in your backyard (with the help of a yoga mat) something that you really look forward to; especially if you're not much of a morning person and you want to get in as many minutes as possible before your alarm goes off. Plus, scheduling meditation during the time of day that you enjoy the most can also give you something to look forward to — it can be just you, that moment and nothing else. Mindfulness at its best.
4. Pay Attention to Your Nose
One mistake that a lot of people make when it comes to meditating is they're not intentional about getting all five of their senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste) involved. I'll get into hearing in a sec; for now, let's talk about scent. Some scents that are pleasant and can definitely help to bring you into a state of tranquility include lavender, vanilla, jasmine, citrus, cinnamon, rose, bergamot, patchouli, frankincense and ylang ylang. You can light a scented soy candle, put the scent into an oil diffuser, light some incense — the options are totally up to you. I also recommend combining your favorite essential oil with a carrier oil like sweet almond oil or avocado oil and rubbing it onto your temples before you begin. Whether you know it or not, your temples are a pressure point and by massaging a soothing type of oil directly onto them, it can increase the chances of you feeling more relaxed, even before you begin your meditative practice.
5. Wear Headphones or Earbuds
One of the main things that needs to happen while you are meditating is you block out background noise — your television, the notifications on your phone, people. If, for whatever the reason, that seems close to impossible to do, invest in some noise cancelling headphones or earbuds. Or, if you'd prefer, put on some ASMR rain, ocean or wind sounds. Other than complete silence, nature sounds can be really good when it comes to feeling calm while you're meditating. YouTube has videos that last for hours as far as ASMR goes (just go to the site and put the kind of sound that you are looking for into the search field). If you're in the market for some great headphones, go here ; earbuds, go here .
6. Go Outside
One of my favorite reads of all-time is The Celestine Prophecy . One of the points in it is we are able to receive a lot of the energy that we need from nature (trees, specifically).
In many ways, meditating cosigns on this because, when you choose to meditate outdoors — you can reconnect with nature; you are taking in a lot less pollution (indoor air pollution is around 3-5 times higher than outdoor air pollution is); you're able to take in a natural source of Vitamin D; the surroundings of nature can help to lower your blood pressure, and nature definitely encourages you to totally disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the world, so that you can embrace the more simple things in life.
7. Build Up over Time
As with everything in life, there are meditation experts. According to a lot of them, meditating is most effective when we do it for 45 minutes, in roughly 20-minute intervals, a day. I don't know if I've ever done that before, so don't let what I just said overwhelm you. Listen, even if you only get in 10 minutes, pat yourself on the back. Besides, the more you do it and see how it is "balancing you out", the easier it will be to find yourself sitting still, deep breathing and staying in the moment for more and more minutes at a time.
Bottom line, meditating really isn't as hard as you might think it is. Once you've decided that you deserve to sit still and "get back to the middle" in your life on a daily basis, you'll find the practice of meditation to be a treat more than an obligation. I can certainly testify to that.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find , there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecole exclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause , marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression , anxiety , like all of it, mental health challenges , all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry ’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy . If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures , and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood , her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff , which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You , which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “ On My Mama ” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour . So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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