Why Meditation is a game changer
Conversations about meditation tend to divide people into two factions; the “I believe in meditation” and the “Meditation is a load of #$%&” groups. In my experience the latter usually have not tried it, don’t understand how it works, or have only tried one type. I used to be in the latter category myself. Years ago I had a really bad run where it seemed like life just wanted to kick me when I was already down. I spent a lot of time in hospitals, having exploratory surgeries and due to the stress and anxiety of my undiagnosed medical issues with my stomach and immunity, I developed acute OCD, severe depression, anxiety and insomnia. Lets just say it was not the best year of my life.
At the time, a counsellor suggested trying meditation and gave me a CD for a long guided relaxation technique using meditation. The CD was over 90 minutes and about 15 minutes in I gave up in frustration and tears. I simply could not sit still for long enough and could not empty my mind. That’s what I thought it was about — emptying it out, and the harder I tried to empty it the more challenging the art of meditation became. I decided then and there I did not believe in it and left it alone for over a decade.
Years later, having really discovered the power of the mind-body connection through dance and exercise, and having used that connection to literally save my life (detecting issues with my health because I could feel something was wrong very early); I decided to investigate the science of the mind and in particular meditation. I was overwhelmed by how much more work had been done and how much science could verify the power of meditation. So if you are on the fence here are a few things I suggest you do:
Investigate the science:
Read, read, read. Knowledge is power and there is plenty to read about the effects of meditation. From lowering blood pressure, reducing the severity and occurrence of panic attacks, reducing insomnia (and in fact teaching chronic insomniacs how to get rest with or without sleep), boosting the immune system, increasing the effectiveness of exercise routines, empowering entrepreneurs and athletes to achieve greatness…well you get the point. It actually changes brain chemistry — and anything that changes the chemistry of the brain, changes the body and changes the way we see our world. I recommend reading any of the books by Andy Puddicombe but this is a good starting point .
Try a few types:
There are numerous types of meditation, and like tastes in cuisine, or preferences in exercise that suit your body- meditation is similar. There will be a type that suits you, but you need to try it to find out which type. Genuinely give a few a go and commit to a month of each type. I can guarantee you will learn a lot about your mind and body even through the ones that don’t suit you best. I personally discovered the Headspace App and I use it twice a day for 10 minutes. It is guided and has nothing to do with emptying the mind. It took a good month of using it for it to click, but the effects on my health and life have been astounding. In terms of pain management, sleep, exercise effectiveness and confidence, it has been a game changer for me.
You will learn about both sides of yourself:
In other words you will uncover your strengths and weaknesses. It’s a platform for realistic and healthy change; and so in a safe space, you can address those things about yourself that you discover that you’d like to improve, whilst strengthening the things you do like.
It’s not only people with anxiety that benefit from it. Even if you feel confident, happy and stress free it can still help in a range of ways from goal setting, exercise commitment, love and relationships, grieving and eating to name a few. It is also a nice way to carve out some precious minutes for yourself per day- something all of us need to do more!
In a world that needs more calm and kindness we can all do our bit, by learning a little more about how to move through the world with a more mindful approach. So give it a try and let me know what works for you!