How to Become Your Own Meditation Coach - Real Food Whole Life

How to Become Your Own Meditation Coach

November 30, 2021

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This week, we’re spotlighting Adrienne van der Valk!

Adrienne is a writer, yoga & meditation teacher, the co-founder of REVA Recovery Support and co-host of the podcast The Hangover Liberation Society

Today, she’s sharing some super tactical tips and approachable practices for how to become your own meditation coach.

Read on to learn 3 reasons you don’t meditate (and how to conquer them), simple ways to embrace unglamorous meditation everyday, and self-coaching mantras to use when you feel yourself resisting meditation.

image of two candles on a gray stone with white textile background and eucalyptus

how to become your own meditation coach with adrienne van der valk

If you have even a passing interest in wellness, it’s likely that at some point, a photogenic person on the internet has popped up and told you that you should meditate. 

Sounds good, you think. I should meditate.  

And that’s where you may have gotten stuck.

Not because it isn’t good advice, but because you don’t think it will work for you.

“Your practice doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s, and it doesn’t have to be long to be effective.”

Adrienne van der Valk

3 reasons you don’t meditate (and how to conquer them)

As a meditation coach (yes, that’s a thing!), I hear this all the time.

“Meditation won’t work for me because…” followed by one or more reasons.

And those reasons? They’re valid.

Despite the many documented benefits of meditation (reduced anxiety, increased sense of well-being, better focus, deeper interpersonal connections), the reasons not to meditate are plentiful, powerful, and personal.

And a personal reason not to do something is almost always going to trump a photogenic person on the internet telling you why you should

The good news is you can overcome your objections to those reasons.

You can become your own meditation coach! Start right now by learning how to flip the script on three of the most common reasons people resist meditation. 

1. “i don’t have time”

You’re right. You don’t have time. No one has time for one more thing in this hamster-wheel life. 

But here’s a secret: Meditation actually gives you your time back

I mean that literally.

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time worrying about wild scenarios that are never going to happen.

Looking for keys you lost because you were distracted.

Putting off projects because you’re too anxious to get started.

Meditation can help with that.

Plus, wouldn’t it be nice if being busy didn’t feel so burdensome? If your days felt more joyful? If you felt more present in your relationships?

Meditation can help with that, too. 

Once you start to see meditation as a time-giver rather than a time-sucker, the next step is to embrace unglamorous meditation.

Sweatpants meditation. School-pickup-line meditation. Haven’t-brushed-your-teeth-yet meditation. 

Silk cushions and singing bowls are fine; if they motivate you to practice, great! But you don’t need them.

What you need is a little creativity to help you find your imperfect groove. 

Does 20 minutes feel daunting? Great—meditate for five. 

Does your dog start whining the second he sees you in the morning? Meditate on a bench at the bark park. 

Kids wake you up every day at 5:00 am? Meditate as soon as they go to bed.

Or in the driveway when you get home from the grocery store. Or in a conference room at work. 

Your practice doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s, and it doesn’t have to be long to be effective.

Look for slivers of time and space, however unglamorous. Plant the seeds of your practice in those moments and grow it from there. 

“Your practice doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s, and it doesn’t have to be long to be effective.”

Adrienne van der Valk

2. “i can’t stop thinking”

More good news: The goal of meditation is not to stop thinking.

(That would be impossible, anyway; our subconscious is always chugging along in the background!) 

The goal is to observe your thoughts rather than become obsessively entangled with them. 

When you sit to meditate, notice when (not if, when) you start daydreaming and bring your focus back to the breath.

Then do it again. Then do it again. That is the practice. 

Let me give you an example.

Before sitting down to complete this article, I meditated for about 12 minutes.

I would estimate that I spent at least eight of those minutes thinking about a class I taught last night.

Did the students notice I skipped some slides? Was my audio good enough over Zoom? 

Rather than beating myself up for thinking, I noted that I was doing it and invited those thoughts to come back later.

And they did…about 30 seconds later. Again and again. 

By the end of my meditation, my thoughts were much less frantic, and I had some good information: Based on what I observed about where my mind went during those 12 minutes, teaching is important to me.

I want my students to have a good experience. I believe in the work that I do.

That information is much more valuable and empowering than picking apart every bullet point I missed during my talk. 

We can’t stop our thoughts—and we don’t have to obsessively chase after them.

We can learn a lot about ourselves when we take a step back and create space to (non-judgmentally) notice what goes on inside our heads.

It’s very much a forest-trees situation.  

You can identify unhelpful narratives running amok, taking up too much space.

You can observe tendencies like chasing after approval or avoiding conflict.

With practice, you can connect more deeply with your values and intentions rather than your fears and projections.

Observation is the key. 

It’s hard to know who you are or what you want if you never listen to yourself. 

“The goal of meditation is not to stop thinking…The goal is to observe your thoughts rather than become obsessively entangled with them.”

Adrienne van der Valk

3. “i’ve tried it before, and it didn’t work”

When I hear this objection, it usually means one of two things.

Either the person spent a bunch of money on apps and bells and incense but very little time actually meditating; or they expected to go into a trance or experience instant Nirvana. 

The benefits of meditation are real and can be life-changing, but they are subtle at first.

When you first start practicing, you’ll most likely find the perks in what you don’t experience rather than in what you do. 

I’ll use my husband as an example.

He recently went to the dentist—an experience he typically dreads.

This year, a few months into a new meditation practice, he barely noticed a change in his emotional state on the day of his appointment.

He wasn’t happy about it, but it also didn’t ruin his day.

He focused on his breath while getting his teeth cleaned and found that the time passed much more quickly and smoothly than usual. 

Nirvana? No. Radical improvement in his quality of life? Yes!

That’s not to say you shouldn’t have high expectations of what meditation can do for you.

But don’t underestimate the value of little wins like a non-traumatic dental visit, or a gentler attitude toward your sassy teenager, or an easier time falling asleep.

Life is a collection of just such moments.

Meditation prepares us to bring a more mindful and authentic version of ourselves to those moments. 

The rough edges of life never disappear, but the less we resist them, the smoother they start to feel. With practice, we can even find ourselves flowing. 

Meditation prepares us to bring a more mindful and authentic version of ourselves to moments.”

Adrienne van der Valk

resisting meditation? use these self-coaching mantras

If I can hear my breath, I’m meditating. 

I literally can’t screw this up. 

Every minute of meditation is a deposit in the mental-health bank.  

The more present I am with myself, the more present I can be with others. 

The benefits of my practice may not be linear, but they are real. 

I am entitled to time and space that belongs only to me.

more resources on meditation & mindfulness

A Yoga Flow + Meditation Video for Everyday

The Simple Mindset Shift That Can Change Your Life

3 Simple Habits to Be a More Mindful Parent

guest bio

Adrienne van der Valk is a writer, yoga and meditation teacher, the co-founder of REVA Recovery Support and co-host of the podcast The Hangover Liberation Society. REVA is a holistic coaching program for high-achieving women who want to break the cycle of problem drinking and transition to an alcohol-free lifestyle. To learn more about how to integrate meditation into your life, you can book a free visioning session with Adrienne.

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2 comments to " How to Become Your Own Meditation Coach "

  • Leslie

    This is very informative and I’m looking forward to trying these to keep my practice going. I always seem to start but never stick with it. Thank you

    • Robyn Downs

      Leslie, I’m so happy to hear you found this post helpful and hope they’ll help you find more consistency with your practice. Cheers!

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