These are stressful times we're living in. Thankfully, there are some things that we can do to immediately relieve ourselves of worry, anxiety and built-up feelings of being completely overwhelmed. One of those things is to meditate. Now, before you try and find a billion of reasons why it's something that you should put off until, who knows when, it's important to keep in mind that it's very easy to do. It's all about finding a quiet spot, getting into a comfortable position and sitting in silence for 10-30 minutes at a time.
If you commit to doing this, even just a couple of times a week, there are scientific studies to support that it can (also) improve your ability to focus, cause you to be more empathetic to those around you, inspire you to be more creative, help you to make wiser decisions and strengthen your immune system. There is even research that states meditating can reduce symptoms related to phobias, help you to work through various addictions (like alcohol) and reduce your sensitivity to pain; meditation can even make you a more positive person.
If you just read all of that and was like, "I hear you Shellie, but meditation is just so boring to me," yeah, I hear you too. First, let me say that sometimes meditating can be a struggle because some of us don't know how to freakin' be still sometimes. Second, sometimes meditating can feel like it's on the ho-hum side of life. To that I'll just say that 1) it's not supposed to be like a day at Six Flags (remember that) and 2) there is not just one way to meditate.
In the spirit of that, below, I've enclosed a few things you can do to help make meditating less of an "ugh" (less boring) and more of an "oh!" (more fun) activity for you.
Buy Yourself a “Meditation Outfit”
It's funny. Kinda. What I'm referring to is the people I know who struggle with meditating are also the people who tend to struggle with getting a good night's rest too. When I ask them what their routine typically consists of, if there's one thing that they have in common is, they go to bed looking a hot mess, only to roll out of bed in the same tired leggings and raggedy T-shirt to attempt to meditate. SMDH.
Purchasing some new pajamas and an outfit to meditate in isn't about being frivolous. On the sleep tip, you are going to be in, whatever you're wearing, for 6-9 hours a night. You can be cute while you're comfortable (especially if you're sharing your bed with someone else). As far as meditation goes, I'm sure you've heard that if you dress for success, you tend to perform better. The same theory applies to meditating. If you have an outfit that's specifically reserved for meditation, not only can it make you feel better about doing it, it can also get you excited in a way. If you get a couple pair of yoga pants (like these knit yoga ones, girrrl) and some cute tank tops, you might be surprised by the pep that comes in your step as you sit down on your yoga mat.
Incorporate a Scent That You Enjoy
As I was checking out an article that shared some of the reasons why our sense of smell is so important to our everyday lives, one of the things it shared was it helps us to tap deeper into our emotional state. It even went so far as to state that, a part of the reason why the perfume industry is such a lucrative one is because, they spend a lot of money researching what scents will provoke certain feelings and desires. So yeah, making sure you've got just the right scent happening during your meditation, that can also spark some additional interest in meditating.
For instance, the woodsy scent of sandalwood has quite the reputation for igniting inner spiritual work and chakra balance. The musky scent of patchouli can keep you calm and grounded. Lavender is a fabulous de-stressor. The combination of frankincense and myrrh will help to purify your senses while encouraging you to release anxiety. The floral scent of neroli is not only an aphrodisiac, but it also helps to remove negative emotions and can even decrease depression-related symptoms and insomnia.
All you need to do is purchase these essential oils to put on your wrists or in a diffuser, or you can buy some soy candles that are made up of these scents.
The more you study essential oils and aromatherapy, the more you'll find yourself looking forward to picking just the right scent to go along with whatever you want meditation to provide for you, on any given day.
Play “Non-Triggering” Music
When it comes to meditation and music, different "experts" have different perspectives. While some think that sounds will do nothing but distract you, others believe that it's all about selecting the right kind of music. When you do, it can calm your mind, release stress, improve your level of concentration, make you feel more positive and, if you meditate before turning in at night, it can help you to sleep more soundly too.
The key is to avoid the kind of music that will trigger any type of negativity. Like, if you recently broke up with your man, you probably don't need to meditate to the playlist he made for you. Instead, instrumental music, soft jazz, even nature sounds are things that can definitely put you in good spirits and keep you from feeling like you're just…sitting around and doing nothing but listening to yourself breathe (especially if you're new to meditating).
Switch Up Meditation Spots
No one said that you've got to be in the same spot, every time you meditate. If you like the sound of rain, on rainy days, sit in front of the biggest window in your house. If sometimes, you want to meditate in the nude (a lot of people do it), find a spot in your home where you feel the most comfortable and the least self-conscious. If you and your partner are trying to get into meditating more, on the days when you do it together, maybe have some morning sex first and then meditate in your bedroom after. By not always being in the same space, this also can make meditating feel a lot less…monotonous.
Count to 100
The site About Meditation has a great tip if you're someone who is always thinking about all of the other things that you could be doing as you attempt to meditate. It says that you should try counting to 100. By focusing solely on the numbers, it will keep your mind from wandering. It will also get you used to sitting still for longer than a couple of minutes because, you know that you at least need to get to 100, right? You can read more on why this is an effective tip by clicking here.
Write Your Own Mantra
In Hinduism, a mantra is simply a word or phrase that you sing or chant in order to get into a space of peace and calm. Based on the word (or phrase) that you choose, it can also be pretty empowering. So, why not come up with your own customized mantra?
Think about a goal that you want to achieve, a habit that you want to break or an area where you want to feel better about yourself and then find a word (or phrase) that suits that desire. Knowing that there is time you are planning to set aside, on a daily basis, to make you feel better about yourself—what could possibly be even remotely boring about that?
Get a Meditation Partner
No one said that, just because you are meditating, you have to do it alone. In fact, there are several benefits that can come with getting someone to meditate with you. They can hold you accountable to the days that you plan to meditate. Meditating with someone can teach you how to be comfortable being in the presence of others and being silent at the same time. Another perk that comes with meditating alongside another person is they can teach you meditation tricks and offer tips that you might have never heard before. And, if you make plans to get together before or after your meditation session, it can give you something to look forward to as well. You can get together to meditate in the same space or you can hit a friend up on something like Skype or Google Hangout and do it that way.
Journal About It Before and/or After
If you're someone who is very goal-oriented, you might struggle with meditation because you're like, "OK, so I'm sitting here not doing anything. What is the friggin' point?" Since you may not automatically see the health benefits that come from this kind of practice, it might help for you to get a journal that is completely devoted to meditating. You can either jot down the things that are concerning you before doing it, write down the thoughts that immediately come to your mind after you meditate, or you can do a combination of both. It doesn't have to be a novella; a few sentences are fine. But if you get into the habit of writing down your thoughts, feelings and experiences surrounding meditation, you may start to see some documented proof of why it was such a good thing for you to do. And—surprise, surprise—how it stopped being so "boring", after all.
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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 email@example.com. 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 xoNecoleexclusive, 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.
Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Whoopi Goldberg discussed her experience with endometriosis on The View.
During the segment on November 8, the co-hosts were joined by Hillary Clinton, who is an executive producer for the documentary Below the Belt, to raise awareness about endometriosis.
Goldberg expressed her grievances with the health care system to properly diagnose women with the condition after an untreated urinary tract infection led her to discover that she had the condition.
“It drives me berserk that we are still constantly having to beg for health care,” she shared candidly.
“We pay taxes. Women pay taxes. I don’t understand why, when doctors go to school forever, they’re not taught about a woman’s body. And then you have all of these people making these comments, and you know [they] have no idea how this works,” she added.
Endometriosis is a common and often painful condition that occurs when the tissue similar to the lining inside the uterus, called the endometrium, grows outside the uterus. It often affects the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining the pelvis.
The Sister Act star went on to share that she considers herself to be “lucky” to have caught her endometriosis at an early stage, emphasizing the importance of addressing such health issues promptly.
“I was lucky enough because I had a urinary tract infection that I did not take care of. Note to people: don’t let that stuff go. Because stuff happens in your body, and I ended up with what looked like - and I don’t mean to gross you out - but suddenly there was a smell, and it looked like cottage cheese, and I didn’t know what was going on,” she said.
“And I was lucky enough to get to somebody who said: ‘This is called endometriosis,’” Goldberg continued. “They were able to treat me with antibiotics, but that’s because somebody knew what they were looking at.”
As the conversation around endometriosis begins to grow, it is important for women to continue to share their symptoms and educate others about the diagnosis. Goldberg is just one of many celebrities who have used their platform to discuss the condition. Chrissy Teigen, Tia Mowry, and Monica are among those spreading awareness that can empower other women to seek early diagnosis and potentially prevent more severe, long-term pain.
Featured image by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images