Tell me if any of the following sound familiar:
#1 Your acne seems to come and go a lot, with “good periods” followed by “bad periods”.
#2. You have a lot of stress going on at various points and you aren’t always quite sure how to handle it.
I hear about these challenges all of the time, so I wanted to share something with you that’s become a much bigger part of my life over the past 6-8 months, that’s really changed everything for me.
Before you click away into an internet abyss and say “ I’m bad at meditation” etc. just take a listen to my story, and then take a gander at the 5 minute meditation I put together for you below:)
I haven’t always been very good at meditation.
In fact, I used to be terrible at it. I have pretty high energy levels- and a pretty intense overall “vibe” haha- so asking me to sit down on a meditation pillow is basically like trying to convince a toddler to take a nap after they’ve had 5 oreos.
That being said, before meditation became a regular part of my life, I desperately needed it because I was dealing with some big life questions and stress levels that were through the roof (and as a result, SUPER negatively impacting my skin big time.)
The life questions I was struggling with were very important questions for me to answer, but it was hard to get clarity around a lot of them and the more stressed I got, the worse my skin looked.
When I did actually try to really examine what was actually going on… I’d just feel like I had a “runaway brain”; filled with a gazillion and one thoughts that wouldn’t quit and I’d end up feeling more frustrated than before. (Sound familiar?)
So naturally, being the #nerd that I am, I “went-to-the-books” for some answers after seeing a very popular “guru” chat with Oprah one day.
Her name is Pema Chodron and after a normal married life with kids- and then a subsequent difficult divorce- she gave it all up to live the life of a monk.
She wrote a book called When Things Fall Apart, and it was literally, the best thing I could have read for myself and my life at that point.
Along with giving you a link to the book (I am not getting any type of affiliate income on that btw, I just really love the book), I wanted to share some of the main guiding principles that I found to be the very best, and most helpful, to clear my head.
Here are the 3 most helpful “ideas” that I took from the book that really changed the way I view life, big decisions, and just the idea of being “stressed out” (hint: stress is usually never actually helpful!):
1. It’s just a thought.
As time has gone on, I’ve started to really understand the difference between my soul talking, and my ego talking.
You hear about this your whole life; the difference between the id, the ego, and the super ego (Freud anyone?!) but I didn’t really start to understand it until recently.
I walk around with all of these thoughts all day long. Sometimes they’re awesome, wonderful thoughts, other times they’re neutral thoughts…. and sometimes, they’re downright evil and I wouldn’t share them with another human being if you paid me, haha.
And in the past whenever I meditated, I always tried to like… “control” these thoughts. (I’m not talking about attempting to focus here, that’s a different kettle o’ fish.)
No, I’d actually try to make the thoughts go away. And that, mi amiga, is pretty much impossible.
In Pema’s book she talks a lot about how, in meditation, you just allow those thoughts to exist, instead of judging them or making them into something….. you just allow them to be.
In fact, with every thought that comes up during medtiation, you’re supposed to acknowledge it as a thought and just say “Ok”.
Because here’s what you’ll notice and start to see. The mind, the ego, it’s always talking.
It’s always reacting… and sometimes making an utterly EPIC mess of things.
But the soul, hmmmm that soul man, knows exactly whats up.
However, sometimes, it’s super quiet, too quiet even, for us to hear over the noise of the ego.
The goal here (that I’ve found) is to allow the thoughts to exist as they are (they will NEVER stop existing, they will always be runing around) so as to also allow for more space so that the soul can be heard.
Once you allow your thoughts in, without judgement or any attempt to change/distort/improve them, they do become a bit more “quiet”, shall we say.
Because that part of you feels like it’s being “heard/allowed” and it usually seems to calm down a bit.
It’s usually in that new found space that your soul speaks and when you can hear more of what “she” wants, you’re able to make decisions much more clearly. (This is how I’ve decided to make a huge life change coming up. More on this later:)
This level of relaxation and calm also directly benefits your skin as well.
2.Everything changes. Nothing is permanent.
This one can be hard. If your life is rocky right now, it may be hard to even hear this piece of wisdom, let alone understand it on a soul level.
Things will fall apart, the world will crash down around you, it will all suck.
In the book, Pema talks about how the nature of LIFE, is in fact “suffering” and also just change.
That to try to avoid suffering and change is always going to be a losing battle. The most important thing you can actually do is just sink into whatever is happening in your life and really just…..allow it to be. Because you know and understand that it will be changing soon.
Here’s how to think about this in terms of your acne: Change is ever present and it’s the most important element of our lives. I can almost gaurantee that wherever you are in your acne clearing journey, you won’t be there forever.
It will change. My acne went through so many different “types of breakouts” as I got older (good and bad) so just know that as long as your committed to progress and growth, you will continue to positively impact your skin
3. Endless compassion for self is required for a happy life.
I have adored this element. Being again, like I said, a woman with a very “expansive” mind, I think all day long, every single day, about everything (this is not an exaggeration, this is a fact haha) and I realized through my meditation practice that I’m often judging the thoughts.
And then judging myself for the types of thoughts I’m having.
And then judging myself for judging my thoughts. (And so on.)
So for example, in regards to food- my thoughts can sometimes go like this:
Jill’s judgy-brain: “ YOU CAN’T EAT DOUGHNUTS ALL WINTER LONG IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A BEACH BOD. ALSO, YOUR SKIN WILL LOOK LIKE CR**.”
What Pema’s practice taught me was that that second part of that sequence doesn’t serve me, and in fact, harms me.
She talks about this as endless compassion, this kind of deep soul love for self, and it has had such a profound effect on me. And I can understand why.
When you are endlessly compassionate with yourself, wherever you are or whatever you’re going through, you are making progress.
So think about this in terms of your skin. Let’s say you’re trying a new acne clearing routine and you wake up and you have a new breakout and your first thought is:
“UGHHHHHH I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS (whatever new routine you’re trying) ISN’T WORKING I WAS SO STUPID TO THINK THIS WOULD ACTUALLY WORK!!!”
How does that thought feel in your body? It feels bad. And it inadvertently creates more stress because you’re just so upset.
vs. this thought:
“UGHHHH I can’t believe this (whatever new routine you’re trying) isn’t working.”
“Ok, I see that I’m frustrated about that. If it’s still not working by next week, I’ll start to do some more research on different options. Because I know I’m committed to healing my acne naturally, I’ll find the best treatment plan for me soon!”
HOW different does this feel? SO different, right?
I’ve gotten into the habit now of simply OBSERVING the thoughts (because I’ve been meditating more:) as they come in. I don’t judge them, or act immediately, I just watch. And it’s a game changer.
So now, that doughnut conversation will go like this:
Jill’s brain: “ I ruhlly want a doughnut from Cream”
Jill’s non-judgy-just-observing brain: “Oh. Ok, I want a doughnut. Thats going to be a significant amount of sugar. Why do you want that do you think? Are you hungry? Have you had a doughnut in a while? Maybe it IS time for a little treat? Or… maybe you’re feeling a bit upset about something and are searching for a little pick-me-up? In that case, why don’t you go to the gym instead? It’ll make you feel better overall, most likely.”
See that? No judgement, just total rational acceptance and love for where I am in the moment.
When you have really bad acne, and especially if you’ve started to work on some new treatments, you might have the tendency to like, REALLY want the answers figured out. Right. Now. And that’s totally normal, but not always helpful for you.
NOW, large meditation note. I am never perfect at this. Ever. Actually, the whole point is to be be perfectly, imperfect with the whole shebang. And that’s ok.
So, what can you do now after we’ve discussed all of this meditation love?
Start. Right. Now.
Use the following super short, 5 minute meditation for acne to really start to create a foundation/balance in your day.
(Yes. I’m serious. Stop whatever you are doing, even if you’re at work:), go somewhere quiet, and take five minutes just for YOU.)
Your 5 Minute Meditation For Acne (for beginners/aka all of us:)
Step 1. Grab your ipod/listening device and put your headphones in with a really calming song. I usually go on spotify and search for “ocean waves” and pick some amazing beach sound and I’m off to the races. Make sure it’s five minutes long, at least, and set your timer.
Step 2. Pick two words that you would aspire to feel right now; for example “peace” and “freedom”.
3. Spend the next 5 minutes deeply breathing in and out…. As you breathe in, inhale the first word. As you breathe out, exhale the second. They’re both words you’re aspiring to. So literally: inhale <peace>, exhale <freedom>.
4. Allow alllllllll and ANY thoughts that are not those words exactly, to just exist. Work, your boyfriend, your mom, that fight that you have, just allow them all in. With each thought that appears/bubbles up, just acknowledge it, say, “Ok” and just bring your mind back to your focus words. Soon, the thought will mosey on out of your mind on it’s own, easily.
4. Continue like this for 5 minutes at least.
5. When you’re done with this five minute meditation, seal in the practice by taking a big deep breath in and exhale it out while you think, or speak, “I love and accept myself exactly as I am.”
This is the meditation practice I started with (I now meditate on average for 15 minutes a day, more on this later:) at the very beginning, so I think you’re gonna love it!
I’ll be sharing a different type of mediation next week, so definitely be on the lookout, and let me know how the meditation feels in the comments below!!