5 Ways Mindfulness Untangles A Messy Brain.

Everyone knows about mediation. It’s what hippies do to reconnect with mother nature the morning after a night on the schrooms. Right? Well that’s what I thought at least.

My mother was diagnosed with Multiple Systems Atrophy seven years ago. It’s an ugly disease that basically attacks every automatic system in the body. Digestion, temperature control, movement etc. You get the picture.

It’s been a long and stressful journey to say the very least. My family and I have found ourselves in terrifying, heartbreaking and unbearably sad moments. Worst of all, we usually all cripple under the emotional weight and end up yelling at each other.

About a year ago now, I thought enough was enough. For my 24th birthday, I politely asked my father for a subscription to the app Headspace. Your guide, Andy Puddicombe, has managed to transform mediation in the same way Jamie Oliver changed cooking. I had done the 10 day trial which I really enjoyed. The sensation of feeling like I was floating just above my body was fun. I even started to have nightmares, in a therapeutic cathartic way. I was hooked. Fast forward over 12 months later and I’m still using the app. Here are the five reasons why:

1. It’s like your personal self-administrated stress zapper

Mindful mediation has allowed me unbelievable control over my stress and anxiety levels. It’s actually quite a peculiar experience. All it takes is learning the seemingly simple practice of recognising when your stressed. Research has shown that your body actually experiences the sensation 50% less this way. I don’t think there is really a ‘cure’ for anxiety, and whilst I don’t stop feeling stressed, the second I realise what’s going on I can take a step back from a tense situation. Better still offer some level headed support to others around me.

2. I’ve stopped taking real medication

Another perk to me (and my wallet) is that I’ve stopped taking my digestion medication. I always suspected that my stomach aches probably had to do more with exams then cheese toasties. Drug free FTW!

3. You can stop and smell the rosé

An unexpected benefit to mediation is how it is much easier to enjoy the smaller things in life. I was always that person who would be having a great time, then my mind would race to think of the next thing coming up that I should be stressing about. Having fun dancing to Yoncé? No don’t, you have an assignment due on Wednesday. Focusing on nothing but your breath for 10 minutes really teaches you to notice the small stuff. Put all your senses behind that wine and see the difference. I’ll let you use your imagination to work out the other benefits of this skill.

4. You can OWN that treadmill

Exercise is a battle I’m always fighting, not just getting to the gym but surviving the 20 minutes on the treadmill. I never realised that the challenge with exercising is that you’re either way too focused: “I’m really tired. Like REALLY TIRED. I can’t breath. Ow. That hurt. Why? BREEEAATTH”. Or on the other end of the spectrum you forget you’re running and don’t really get a good workout. Yep — you guessed it — mindful mediation helps level out both of these.

5. Embarrassment won’t actually kill you

Speaking in front of people now is ok, and the idea of speaking to a stranger doesn’t send me back through the door whence I came. People now actually comment that I’m a calm, confident person which I actually find a little hilarious.

This is just a brief list of the main reasons why I’d recommend mindful mediation to anyone. I can honestly say it has transformed not only my daily life but my relationships too. Before I get too carried away here, I need to outline a couple of ‘yings’ to the above ‘yangs’. Read on for three things that I would warn everyone about before diving in.

1. Higher lows but lower highs?

Firstly, remember that 50% stat? It also works the other way. Your partner surprised you with a romantic dinner? Lovely but not necessarily heart stopping.

2. Ain’t nobody got time for dat.

It’s actually really hard to find the ten minutes to mediate and I struggle to mediate twice a week even though I have become very dependent on it. I think this is the biggest reason why people can’t commit to it (myself included!).

3. We’re all in this together. Right?

The third down side is that you just wish everyone else would bloody do it too! It’s so clear to see people getting themselves more tangled than your Apple earphones. But they DEFINITELY don’t want to hear your hippy shit cause they are ANGRY. Mediate please. For us all.

Mindful medication is no silver bullet. The sadness I feel when seeing my mum battle on is still real. But it does make jumping over that unavoidable hurdle just that little bit easier. Namaste.