Part 3 of Self-Care series
It took a major life upheaval to convince me to start to meditate.
Well, life does things to you, doesn’t it?
I went through a very difficult period in my life, during menopause, which caused me quite serious anxiety. I would wake up with the feeling of a rock placed firmly on my chest.
I could hardly breathe, my heart would race and my anxiety levels were through the roof. I simply did not know what to do, but if I did not do something, I was afraid I was going to become seriously ill.
Several of my friends had been telling me for years about meditation and trying to get me to dip my toe in that particular pond, but I waved them away. Not for me were yoga contortions or lotus poses.
Start with just a few minutes a day
My good friend encouraged me to try out meditation. “Just do five minutes a day”, she suggested. She told me that there are a plethora of meditation apps out there and suggested I try out a couple of well-known ones: ‘Calm’ or ‘Headspace’.
I decided to go with the latter, mainly because they had cute animations that amused me. The app did not assume I was a practiced Yogi. It helped me take baby steps and spoke to me at my ‘meditation’ level of expertise (or lack thereof).
Every morning, as soon as I woke up, I would put my headphones on and set the time to 5 minutes; 10 if I was feeling particularly motivated or more anxious than usual.
Within a week, I could see a real difference. I am still not an expert at it, but the great thing is: you don’t have to be.
There is no wrong way of doing meditation.
Breathing as your focus
The type of meditation I chose to do is focused on breathing. The idea is to attempt to let thoughts come and go. In order to do so, you try to keep your focus on the breaths you take. Of course, my monkey brain was doing jumping jacks, to begin with.
Even now, it manages to escape to its own circus, but I am now better able to put it back in its place. One, breathe in, two breathe out, three, breathe in, four, breath out. You get the picture. At the count of 10, you are supposed to start over. Many times, I found myself at 35 before realizing it and adjusting.
It feels liberating
More importantly than the meditation technique you engage in, is the fact that meditation makes you stop the clock on the treadmill of life for a few minutes a day. You sit there doing nothing. You try to think of nothing, or better to be exact you observe tour thought instead of engaging them.
You just are. As simple as it sounds, it is very liberating.
Meditation has helped me become more focused, less anxious, more clear-headed, and better able to control my thinking. When triggered, instead of a knee-jerk reaction, I take a moment to choose my thoughts and, therefore my actions. It has made a tremendous difference to my quality of life.
I cherish those few moments of peace in my day. Maybe I will be trying Yoga next!
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