Two-Minutes to Change Your Life
Updated: Dec 11, 2020
When my husband first started meditating, I’ll be honest, I thought it was kind of a waste of time. But also, who has time to meditate?! There are meals to cook, laundry to do, boys to bathe and on and on and on. But then it happened. After weeks of panic attacks and crippling anxiety, I decided to meditate. But where to start? Yogi Jim’s guided meditation through my mind forest? No thank you, YouTube. (I’m kidding... Kind of.)
I decided to just start small. I started waking up a few minutes early and after my husband left to do his morning workout, I would sit. Just sit. I called it “listening to silence.” When you stop to listen to silence, you realize it isn’t silent after all. Suddenly, sounds you were previously unaware of start to flood into your consciousness. The whirring of the ceiling fan. A car driving by. The wind rustling the trees outside your window. It becomes a symphony.
My new rhythm was peaceful, enjoyable. But, I could only keep my mind clear for two minutes before distractions began to pry their way in. As a perfectionist, I was tempted to scrap the whole thing. But then I happened to hear an expert speak on meditation. He talked about gaining control of your mind. So, the object isn’t to see “how long I can last,” it’s to gain control of my mind! If two minutes is as much control as I can muster at this moment in my chaotic life, then so be it. I will start there.
With new resolve, I continued my two minute meditation every morning. I tried to extend my time by a minute here or a minute there, but inevitably the distractions came rushing in. So, with a little grace, I allowed myself to keep to just two minutes.
I sat in silence every morning and found that I was more at peace, more calm throughout my day than I had been prior to this little exercise. I even started to look forward to my morning silence - sometimes it was the only silence I got all day. This was a little treat just for me.
And then something even more extraordinary happened. I didn’t plan it, I didn’t force it, but my meditation slowly evolved. It didn’t get longer, it just sort of... shifted. As I cleared my mind and allowed the sounds of silence to come in, they started to remind me of pleasant things. I didn’t allow thoughts or words in, but very gently, as if riding on a breeze, these beautiful pictures would waft by. The sound of a car driving in the dark brought a picture of an early morning road trip. A picture of my humble home, quiet after putting my boys to sleep, whispered to me through the sounds of the air conditioner. My husband’s footsteps brought his sweet smile and sparkly blue eyes to my mind’s eye. As these pictures filled my soul, a wave of gratitude and joy swept over me. I opened my eyes. Everything had just changed.
Over the next few weeks I intentionally invited new pictures in. Daydreams. Now a car driving in the dark brought the hope of going back to work, driving to a movie set before daybreak with a chai tea in my hand, my favorite podcast on the radio and no kids in the car. Pure freedom. The leaves rustling outside turned my attention to a day date hike with my husband, no kids, just the two of us. Love. The sounds of my two year old tossing and turning over the baby monitor drew pictures of cuddles and snuggles and tickles and all day jammies and laughter. Happiness.
There were still no words or thoughts to accompany these pictures and if words did try to creep in, I gently let them float by, keeping my mind clear and peaceful. And then I had the thought. If I can let any random sound bring me joy, why can’t I do that with everything else in my life? I started practicing throughout the day. If I saw my husband’s coat, I would allow it to remind me of him and I would create a picture of us snuggling. If the boys' bath towels are on the bathroom floor, rather than getting annoyed, I would allow it to remind me of their buoyant laughter as they splashed and wrestled in the bath the night before.
Seeing the world this way is retraining my brain to look for joy rather than stressors throughout my day. It is reshaping the entire way I see the world and having some pretty incredible impacts on my life. I am more relaxed, excited, joyful, creative and even innovative.
But it isn’t just affecting my life. It’s also affecting people around me.
The other day both of my boys had major over-tired meltdowns at the exact same time. This is pretty rare for us. Usually it’s only one boy at a time, thank God. But as they were both screaming their heads off, I suddenly felt outside myself. Normally a tantrum would make me anxious, frantic and snippy. But not this time. This time, I calmly took the two year old outside and just cuddled him until he settled down. We watched cars and I talked to him about his meltdown. He was an easy fix since there were distractions outside and he didn’t have a huge emotional stake in what had just happened. My husband had been consoling my five year old inside. I brought him outside next, and as the toddler explored the yard, I snuggled his older brother. I let him cry until all the tears were gone. Then we talked about what happened. He said he was scared that I would be mad at him. “For having emotions?” I asked. He nodded. I proceeded to tell him that all emotions are normal and OK and I would never get mad at him for having emotions. “It’s only when you allow those emotions to lead to bad behavior that you would get a consequence.” I could see him internalizing this information.
In that moment, I could see so clearly in him the same overachiever, perfectionist tendencies that lie in me. I equate performance with self worth and I wish someone told me when I was a kid that I was enough outside of my performance. In the clarity of that moment I started speaking identity over him. I told him who he was, how I saw him, how loved he is and how there is nothing in the world he could do, good or bad, that would make me love him any more or any less. He was astounded. I felt elated. We snuggled a while longer before we wiggled off the sad and welcomed in the happy.
That story in and of itself would have been enough for me to champion the power of my new two-minute routine. But then something else wonderful happened. A mom friend reached out to me that same day, admitting she was feeling overwhelmed with her own boys. I told her what happened with my little guys and about an hour later I got another text from her. “You’ll never guess what happened!” she exclaimed. She went on to tell me that her toddler began to throw a huge tantrum after she had finally gotten her baby to sleep. She repeatedly tried asking him to use his quiet voice, to no avail. Rather than getting frustrated at him, yelling back or internally combusting, she remembered my story and looked at the big picture. She realized her son was hungry and ready for lunch. So, she gave him a few blueberries to tide him over and they talked about what happened while she prepared the food. She ended up having a beautiful moment too!
At dinner that night, as we always do, my family went around the table sharing our favorite parts of the day. To my surprise, my oldest son and I both said our favorite part of the day was his meltdown! It’s almost laughable that something that would have broken me before was now the thing I loved most about my day. If just two-minutes a day can reshape that, what else can’t it do?