Brenda Whitlow Craig
Healthy Habit: Meditation
Photography by T.R. Love, T.R. Media World
Brenda Whitlow Craig
Healthy Habit: Meditation
Passion: Helping myself and others find their way on this journey of life.
Family: Bob Craig, husband; Ron Hays, son and Robin Velez, daughter; Gabrielle and Aaron Conover, grandchildren
What motivated you to start a practice of meditation?
In 1994 I started practicing permanent cosmetics, and I did a body scan meditation with my patients. The benefits were exactly what we both needed. The patients usually came in with a lot of fear, as you can imagine; meditation shifted their fear into a pleasing relaxing state. It was great to be connected at that level. I benefited because it helped them trust me more, which allowed me to focus on creating beautiful work for them.
After retiring in 2015 from a busy successful career, I felt overwhelmed, stressed out and couldn’t sleep. I thought, “What the hell! This is not going to be my life.” I found a path of healing and self-discovery in which meditation was a key component. Even though I had years of practicing body awareness relaxation meditation with my clients, I lacked the essential knowledge and tools to truly experience the benefits of meditation in my life. I learned I could transform my mind in eight weeks of meditation. In that short time, I began to experience more peace and create a calmer environment in the midst of any chaos. I learned to live in more awareness of the present moment, instead of the past or worrying about the future and blaming others. I now find my own happiness and freedom within myself, living my most authentic life.
How has this practice enhanced your life?
A daily meditation practice has been a sweet gift, giving me more peace, self-love, less stress and a more meaningful life. And my husband says, “You are less reactive.”
Without being too personal, can you tell us about a few “Aha” moments that came through meditation?
Dealing with grief. A few years ago I lost my oldest grandchild. Nothing in my life had prepared me for how to deal with that. I had stepped into what I call THE GREAT SADNESS. Thank God that through meditation and prayer, I had learned the gift of silence. I’ve known so many, including myself, who are not comfortable with silence. What I do know, with a healthy habit of practicing meditation daily, there will come a time when you will fall in love with the silence and just being still. The silence and my faith were my self-care to help me heal and find my center in my life.
How do you fit meditation into your life and stay dedicated?
I practice self-care by planning 5-20 minutes of meditation first thing in the morning so I can have a better day. Then I try to practice what I call the “shift” meditation. Before dinner, I practice a 5-10-minute meditation to intentionally shift from a day of busyness to an evening of relaxation. There are many meditations one can listen to before entering their home. Try it, I bet you’ll like it. I know it works.
What is non-negotiable when it comes to your meditation habits?
The biggest challenge of non-negotiable is getting out of my own way and being mindful of the self-care I seek. I think the hardest thing I’ve ever learned as a woman is to take care of myself. “I Matter,” and so do you!
You went to school to train in meditation, what about someone who wants to make a simple practice of it and get started today?
Oh, there are so many ways! The one I share the most is CALM app. What I love about this app is there are wonderful 5 minute meditations from many fabulous teachers to get you started. The app will also teach you how to use meditation for anxiety, stress, self-care, inner peace, focus, personal growth, relationships and fabulous sleep stories.
What about those who feel we can’t settle for 5 minutes without getting up or our brains jumping all over the place?
START MEDITATING NOW! Thoughts are natural, and when they arise some options are to refocus your attention to your breath or a sound or watch a candle flicker. One of the biggest benefits is the calming of the nervous system. With time, the mind will become less busy and you will fall in love with silence. You have to stay with it to see the benefits. Trust it.
How do you stay awake during meditation?
In the beginning some do fall asleep, and it’s ok; be kind to yourself, always. The primary difference between sleep and meditation is that in meditation we remain alert, awake, and aware. While in sleep, we lack alertness. Falling asleep is not a sign of failure, it’s a sign that you are relaxed and possibly exhausted. The good news is a 20-minute meditation is equivalent to 4-5 hours of deep sleep.
What would you say to encourage others to start their own healthy meditation?
The practice of meditation awakens us to the joy of the present moment. By cultivating attention and awareness, even challenging situations like chronic pain, destructive thought patterns and difficult emotions can be transformed into sources of inner peace and joy. Don’t you want that?
Why are healthy habits important to you?
God gave me the gift of life for which I am most grateful. Healthy habits are my gift to myself for a life well-lived.