Meditation. Ugh… Laying there, silent, just waiting for all the thoughts in my head to be unleashed… All at the same time,… meditation had always seemed like a chore. I hated the idea of laying down and letting all my negative thoughts reveal themselves front-and-center. I didn’t understand the benefits, and I was far too anxious to put my life on pause for something so “pointless”.
Meditation isn’t Always About Visualizing a Picture Perfect Beach
Meditation takes practice – and it’s not something that’s done in one particular form… Oftentimes, we think of meditation as laying down with our eyes closed in hopes of somehow escaping from the spinning thoughts in our minds. Although this may work for some, laying down in silence may not be the right form of meditation for all.
As I moved through recovery from anorexia, anxiety, and OCD, I was forced to practice this “stereotypical” form of meditation. I walked into therapy, and I would spend 10 minutes in silence as my therapist walked me through stories describing a “magical forest” or a “beautiful beach”. Quite honestly, it didn’t work… Instead, I would begin to stress about all of the things I could be doing and think about all of the time I was wasting..
I kept hearing (and reading) about success stories. People constantly claimed that meditation “saved their life” or that they “can’t live without doing their 10 minutes of meditation every morning”. What was I missing? To me, meditation was horrifying – and I couldn’t imagine how it could possibly HELP ease my anxiety.
Reality: Meditation isn’t a one-size-fits-all practice. Rather, it’s about finding an activity that allows your mind, spirit, body, and soul to connect. Meditation is about finding something that can truly put your mind at ease – an activity that can allow you to escape the destructive thoughts in your mind.
Exploring Different Forms of Meditation
As I began to experiment with different activities, I started to realize the true meaning of meditative activity. I spent about a month trying a few “calming hobbies” I saw online – baking bread, drawing, doing alcohol ink art, and practicing yoga. For me, the whole laying-down-and-listening-to-some-guy-talk-about-the-forest was pointless.. But, spending an hour baking bread, colouring in between the lines, making a beautiful piece of alcohol ink art, and practicing yoga – that was my escape.
Every day, I wake up intending to start my day with one of these activities. Rather than waking up with a mind full of destructive thoughts or an urgency to get going on my work, I instead spend a few moments to let my mind, spirit, and body connect.
Meditating to Improve Sleep and Stress
Starting my day with a meditative activity not only improves my mood and energy for the day ahead, but it also has had a profound effect on my sleep. Prior to practicing meditation, I would wake up at the wee hours of the day, stressing about the tasks that had to be completed. I would often find myself on my computer at 6 am, writing, working, and worrying that I’d never been able to finish my work on time. My anxiety would take over, I would avoid eating breakfast (due to the “time expense” of preparing a meal and eating it), and my OCD would kick into overdrive.
Since incorporating meditative practices into my mornings, I’ve noticed that my quality of sleep has improved. I sleep until my alarm goes off, and I wake up feeling refreshed and excited to begin my morning practice. It gives me a sense of pride to spend half an hour engaging in self-care and treating my mind, body, and spirit. It slows my mind down and allows me to truly appreciate the act of living in the moment. Suddenly, the world is put on pause – and the only thing I am concerned about is the “here and now”.
A Half An Hour Can Save Your Life
It’s incredible the effect that a half-an-hour can have on the remainder of the day. It reminds me of the importance of living in the moment, focussing on the task at hand, and putting my health and wellness on the pedestal. I suddenly feel at ease to have breakfast, rather than worrying that enjoying a hearty bowl of oatmeal will take too much time out of my day. I can focus on one task at a time, rather than staring at the clock, worrying that I’ll run out of time to complete my work. The act of morning meditation is almost like a reset button. The worries of the past drift away and the fear of the future is no longer there. You’re in the moment – and nothing else matters.
Meditation isn’t one-size-fits-all – but finding a meditative activity that eases your mind is an incredible way to work through anxiety and stress. The act of meditation is something that teaches your mind, body, and soul to connect. Rather than focussing on the past and future, you can embrace this one moment in time. It’s not about laying down and “letting your thoughts pass by like clouds”… If that method works for you – then amazing! But, that’s not where the wonders of meditation end… Whether it be yoga, art, music, dance, or walking – there are so many forms of meditation to choose from.
Find the activity that works for you, and carve out a space for that activity each and every day. A half an hour can do wonders for your mood, energy, and productivity throughout the day. A half an hour is such a small snippet its time, but when you use it to engage in self-care, that moment in time can be the one that saves your life.