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This Is What Happened When I Stopped Meditating

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Meditation has been my trusty companion for 24 years through episodes of depression and beyond. Though my last therapy session was 18 years ago, I continue to explore the infinite possibilities of the mind and how to change thoughts, beliefs and language to find and live a purpose-filled life. I’m a work in progress but isn’t that what life is?

My intuition tells me that meditation has played a major role in my transformation. So, I tested this theory by stopping for a week to see what happened.

The Rules

I stopped last Monday. I’d be at ease after the weekend. But the stress of month-end was coming up, bringing the baggage of a serious lack of funds and how to make them flexible enough to stretch to the next month. How would I manage the cortisol cocktail without meditation?

The rules for this experiment were

· Don’t meditate for a week

· I’m allowed to do breathing exercises

· I’m allowed to visit Medium

The Test

Monday.

There’s something missing. I’m incomplete. I have clay feet. A lack of enthusiasm bordering on indifference.

Tuesday.

Feel tired. Explore Medium, reading and responding, finding new writers and new ideas. Should be fired up. But I’m irritable and angry at the heat outside and the fire inside. Forget to write in my journal. Watch a repeat of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Reminds me of how far I’ve come. Sleep comes easy.

Wednesday.

On auto-pilot. The weather has cooled so I’m robbed of a scapegoat for my lack of brain energy. Negative self-talk but I force my floundering mind to write and publish a story on Medium. I toss drops of laughter into the mix.

That fuels up my energy levels for about an hour.

I prepare our favorite curry — but there’s no joy. I’m running on empty. Shave my grocery list to stay within budget. Stress. My heart is flat-lining; my head is going into overdrive.

Thursday dawns.

Last night I went to bed exhausted, turned off my light, and couldn’t sleep. Thoughts were racing and repeating — a groundhog’s day nightmare. Breathing exercises allow me to fall asleep — for two hours! I’m awake at 0530!

I’m in control mode. Have to finish the shopping list; we have a car tomorrow for our monthly trip into town. Should write but can’t get my thoughts onto paper. Guilt, frustration, impatience. Restless. Unable to concentrate.

The Result

Four days was enough. The withdrawal symptoms were too painful to endure any longer. I was not firing on all cylinders. I’d lost my inner peace.

I had to get my fix.

Despite not completing my mission, I proved my intuition was right. I was no longer grounded, compassionate and positive. My thoughts were all over the place. (How easy to allow the daily noise to drown our true voice; how tenuous the thread.)

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” Ram Dass

What Happened Next?

I’m back to a daily routine of nourishing and exercising my mind AND my soul.

I’m back to looking at obstacles as stepping stones in the onward journey of my life.

“By the practice of meditation, you will find you are carrying within your heart a portable paradise.” — Paramahansa Yogananda