Blog · Mental Health · Podcasting

What I’ve Learned From Podcasting

When I started A Moment of Mindful Meditation, I was inspired by the whole concept of mindfulness, how meditation is an exercise that can help you become more mindful, and how people respond when they discover its benefits. To be honest, I am not a super-regular formal meditator, but I do like to sit quietly and think; it helps me figure out what I’m going to do next. When I do finally plug in and listen to someone else guide me through, I love the experience of letting go, hard as it can be for me to work through my antsy monkey-mind and focus on more centering thoughts.

In today’s blog, I wanted to share with you some of the things I’ve learned from creating this podcast, including both finding inspiration to create content and the writing process itself.

Creative things evolve.

When I started, I didn’t have a well-developed plan for the podcast. I just knew that I had things to say that I thought would be helpful to others. The first episode, At The Beach, was taken directly from the end of the yoga sessions that I did occasionally for my dance classes. Whenever I’d offer yoga as a class option, someone would inevitably shout out “can we go to the beach?” At the end of a school year of remote learning, I decided to teach an extended unit on different components of mindfulness. I had incorporated some YouTube meditations in those lessons, knowing that many of them would appreciate the quiet space to disengage from thinking so hard about everything else and focus their attention on themselves. They responded so positively, and I was really inspired to record my beach meditation so I could give them something from me over the summer. I decided to create the podcast, thinking I could certainly find different topics to create other meditations about.

Challenge accepted. I decided to use my free time in the summer to develop the podcast, and started the search for different topics that I thought would be helpful for listeners. I decided to keep each episode under fifteen minutes, knowing that people have a tough time committing more than that to something that requires detachment from the rest of the world. I also wanted to release two episodes a week. In five weeks, ten episodes were complete.

Any attempt at meditation is good. 

Even if you think you aren’t good at it, the exercise of taking the time to sit quietly and give yourself a few moments away from the noise of life is a good thing. There are many ways to meditate; there’s no better or worse method. Stick to whatever connects with you. If relying on yourself to meditate doesn’t suit you, there are TONS of resources available now – YouTube videos, apps, podcasts, all of which have their own focus or theme. The great thing about it is that so many of them are free and easy to access. Find a voice that soothes you, that connects you to a quiet place in your soul, and press play. 

The thing I hope more people consider is that despite meditation’s reputation as a crunchy, hippie-like activity, it really is quite practical. It’s kind of like the feeling you get after a massage, or taking a long shower. Who doesn’t love those?

Creation, like meditation, is therapeutic.

After the beach meditation was complete, my eyes and heart were wide open to try to figure out what people might want to listen to. My next couple of recordings; I am…, Setting Boundaries, When Sleep Won’t Come, and Nature Walk all happened pretty quickly and naturally. These were all things I was processing as the pandemic school year ended and I was transitioning into summer mode. As I wrote and recorded each topic, I was responding to the events that were happening in my life – looking at who I was, what I was willing and able to give, how it was affecting me, and how I was trying to sort it all out. Getting the words onto the page was almost hard to keep up with, since they mostly just poured out of my brain. Once they were on the page, and I listened to the recordings, it felt cathartic, like my own personal therapy session had occurred.

The ideas for Mental Decluttering and Gratitude also emerged directly from my life. Looking around at all of the things I enjoy, both material and spiritual, I was both disoriented by some of the disorganization I felt and grateful for having so many blessings. These two episodes dealt with both aspects of sorting out your mental and physical “stuff.”

I also wanted to create something quick, maybe a good entry point for someone who doesn’t already meditate or who doesn’t feel like they have the time to dedicate to it. Knowing I’ve been-there-done-that, I recorded 3-Minute Meditation to help people get started.

Sometimes, your ideas come from other people.

After 3-Minute Meditation, there was a bit of quiet space, as if I had emptied everything out and was waiting for another idea to suddenly materialize. I actually had started to get a little nervous, afraid that my desire to create more episodes would be stymied by writer’s block. What if my ideas ran dry? You can’t create content without ideas. 

I turned to my partner for some inspiration and direction. His first idea (I like to call it a “request”), was a meditation about patience. I have to laugh, because my nature is quite impatient, but as a parent/teacher/fully-functioning adult, patience is an absolute requirement. Mindfulness (and therapy) has really helped me in this regard, particularly as it pertains to my role as a parent. I have had to learn that sometimes, you have to stop, wait, and decide that not acting/reacting is the wiser decision, even if it doesn’t feel great to do so. Hurry Up and Wait was the result of that reflection.

The last episode of season one, Dealing With Pain, was my greatest challenge. It was another inspiration from my husband, who has had his fair share of managing chronic, intense pain. For almost a year straight, he had significant flare-ups of excruciating leg pain, often with no sign of letting up. I remember feeling helpless as I watched him endure the agony, day after day, going through surgery, medication management and strings of sleepless nights, praying that something would give him relief. Eventually, his condition improved, but in reflecting on that awful experience, he suggested that maybe I create a meditation on dealing with pain. People in chronic pain start to feel like they are crazy and alone; no one else understands how they are feeling, no one knows how to help them. Watching a loved one enduring this, with little ability to provide any significant relief, is horrifying.

My brain immediately went into doubt mode. How could I, an arts and physical education teacher, even make the suggestion to anyone that meditation can help someone cope with pain? My expertise is not in the medical sciences. I wouldn’t want to come off as someone who understands the complexity of pain as it affects the human psyche. But I do know that mindful meditation has helped my overactive brain come to a quieter consciousness, even for a limited time. I know that there is an important connection between the mind and body, and if there is a way to help calm down an over-activated, irritated brain, I’m game for trying to help.

I decided to look at the research; many scientific minds, much more qualified than mine, have been studying how regular mindful meditation practice can help people cope with a host of psycho- and physiological issues, including pain. Maybe this is something that I can offer as a way to help soothe someone’s ragged, tired-of-hurting brain. If I can offer even a few minutes of relief, then the effort would be meaningful. I decided to take on the challenge, all the while keeping in mind the experience my husband went through and what he might have wanted to hear during the worst of it. 

In case you’re wondering, I did get his stamp of approval.

You are capable of more than you think.

Since the pandemic of 2020 started, I have been writing more. I even curated a play, produced it virtually with my students, and published said play (shameless plug – check out “How Do We Feel Right Now?” on Amazon). I am writing two different memoirs, blogging more often, and producing my own podcast. A year ago, I never would have imagined that I could make all of this happen. I wouldn’t have considered myself a writer or an author, but the reality is, I am. It is a passion and a talent I am cultivating, one word at a time. Sitting at my keyboard and wondering, what am I going to write next, is a daily activity now. I learn a little more every day and am proud to share this new piece of myself with whatever audience is willing to take it in.

If you are inspired to create, give yourself the green light. When you tease out your thoughts and transfer them to the page, or make a recording, or sculpt them into something, you have something that might make someone’s life better, even if it is just your own. Chances are, when you make your life better, that will naturally extend to improving the life of someone else.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I hope they help, or inspire you, to take your next step towards something that will make your life a little better. If you want to listen to my podcast, click on A Moment of Mindful Meditation , take a listen, and let me know what you think. Maybe you can give me my next inspiration for season two!

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