Until I found guided meditation I did not ‘get it’
I have tried to learn to meditate many times and failed many times. Twice I have committed to 30 days of meditation of at least 20 minutes and often twice per day – one of those I tried a mantra and the other I only focused on my breathing. I have also made attempts where I did not try as hard.
Then I found guided meditation and I have been meditating for over a year – having meditated at least once on almost every day of that year. Often I do it twice. In very challenging times I have meditated many times in a single day.
I also do many meditative things , like doodling and weeding the grass.
My partner reports that my anger issues – shouting and losing my temper – have gone. She says I am a much easier person to live with.
I have found it easier and easier to let go of the stories of the mind and to simply be. I enjoy the experience of meditation and I enjoy choosing one that fits with my needs at the time – sometimes I am dealing with emotional pain or physical pain. Other times I experience gratitude and thankfulness.
I do guided mindfulness and visualization to help me with my sports. I have tried but never got the breathing type of meditation although I will try again because breathing is such an important part of all of life.
Visualization helps me do 2 things. In the present moment I have a much better sense of how my body is working and I can get more out of it. For example, I visualize my heart pumping, my lungs expanding and contracting, pulses of blood rich in oxygen etc,. It keeps my focus on the activity and stops my mind from wandering off. I also visualize challenges, such as reaching the end, winning, breaking my record. Sometimes, I visualize myself relaxing on a soft green grass. I do this while I am running and it gives me a mental rest which somehow translates into a physical rest.
I have found that the same tactics work in other areas of my life.
Guided mindfulness also helps me. Before events or competitions there is a huge amount of mental stress. Stress produces cortisol which isn’t good for you in large amounts. It also leads to stage fright type situations where you can talk yourself out of doing your best.
I do guided meditation. Twice per day. When I get up – just before I eat and just after I have brushed my teeth in the evening. They are short – the longest is 20 minutes and I do that one on the weekends.
In the beginning, I listened to a lot of different meditation but I have found my favorites and I like to repeat them a lot.
The main thing I get from meditation is relaxing my slightly obsessive compulsive mind. My mind is always worrying about details. So much so that sometimes people think I am not listening to them because my mind is in another place. So for me to let go the stories of the mind is wonderful peaceful experience.
I do the morning one before I eat so that I am more mindful during my eating. I used to eat and watch TV or read. Now I focus on the experience of eating and I don’t let my mind go far away. It means I enjoy some foods more – because I focus on taste, texture etc. It also means I don’t eat for the sake of eating. I don’t mindlessly finish what is on my plate
I lost weight without restricting my calories. Without me even thinking about it, my food choices shifted slightly and my eating habits changed. All because I was more mindful while I ate.
Rachel – a caregiver
I have worked as a caregiver for almost 10 years, I have been a caregiver to the elderly for most of those years. It requires an extraordinary amount of your emotional energy and infinite amounts of patience.
After my first year of nursing I was physically and emotionally exhausted and was wondering if I would cope with it as a career. I felt emotionally drained and it started to affect my mood and my performance. I began to feel as though I was failing my patients.
I had read a book about brain plasticity and aging which claimed that people who meditate are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease in later life. The premise was that Meditation is a life skill that we should all develop, in order to do more than just survive life. This seemed like a good idea to me, as I was surrounded by aging people with varying degrees of dementia and illness.
I signed up for a guided meditation class at my local rec. centre and have never really looked back. I had a few lapses in the beginning but eventually I got into the rhythm of it and made it a part of my daily ritual. I find 20 to 30 minutes ideal for myself but I have also learned to improvise and sometimes take a few minutes at work to just breath, center myself and replenish myself. I recommend starting with guided meditation, basically because it’s easier to stay focused and helps you understand the concept.
I found that as time went by I was beginning to enjoy my job again, I was able to use meditation to enhance my naturally empathetic nature, it re-energized me and at the same time calmed me. It was also having a very positive effect on the rest of my life and relationships. I felt more in control, I began to trust myself and believe in myself again.
Sophie – arthritis patient
My mother had bad arthritis in her old age and suffered from a lot of pain. I knew that there was a fairly good chance that I would also develop it. Sure enough at around 40 small signs of it had begun to crop up. I did not want to end up like my mother had, almost completely immobilized by the disease, so I began to research the subject and soon realized that other than painkillers and muscle relaxants there wasn’t much else available.
Luckily for me the was an arthritis clinic attached to the hospital in my city. I took a class on meditation and relaxation to see if it could help me. They also offered exercise classes, their motto is “motion is lotion” meaning that if you just keep moving you can mitigate the effects of arthritis.
At first I focused on the exercises and strengthening my core, but as the condition spread to my neck and back the pain was often very intrusive which curtailed the exercise somewhat. I turned to meditation. I had been practicing it on and off over the years so I had some experience of the benefits.
I learned that it is possible to think about pain differently, not to let it overwhelm you. Meditation allows me to focus on the moment, to forget the pain I am experiencing by looking looking at it as something I can contain and control. Through visualization I have trained my mind to be an observer of the pain, not to engage with it. Although this all sounds terribly difficult, with the right guided meditations anyone can learn this skill.
Meditation has given me a whole new perspective on my life in general, I feel renewed and better equipped to deal with whatever comes next!
I wondered how you do it ? Class, book, video, coach ? So I started with google and I soon found out there are as many opinions about meditation and mindfulness as there are people on the planet. And then a few more if you consider how many people seem to have multiple personalities 🙂
So I said to myself ,
- Therefore it doesn’t matter,
- Any method will work.
- Try some.
I tried to learn to meditate using Youtube.
I searched for ‘How to meditate’. I tried a few videos and then I stuck with one.
I had read that to have any effect you need to do it regularly and you need to do it for 4-8 weeks. So, I watched and followed instructions. It was pretty random. I suppose you could say he looked like some kind of yoga guru. What he said and how he said it was believable. It was breathing focus meditation. I persevered for a while. Gave up. Tried another. Gave up. Thought I didn’t get it. I knew I didn’t get spirituality so this might just be another thing I didn’t get.
Then I developed early arthritis in my hands. I was in so much pain that I had to do something about it. There isn’t a lot you can do other than learn to manage the symptoms – mainly pain and the stress that pain causes. The hospital ran classes and I went. We learned many things including 2 surprising ones. Chanting and meditation. Chanting is a kind of breath control and awareness exercise – just one with a kind of deep vibration from the rhythm of the chant. I learned that you can manage pain with meditation – in the sense that you can learn to let it go – learn to stop it always taking over whatever I am doing. I was introduced to guided meditation and I have been doing it for years. People say they don’t have the time. I say – you will save time – when you are not stressed. Meditation is one of the strongest resilience tools there is. Its amazing how easily I seem to deal with all kinds of stressful situations these days.
Linda R – a busy mum
Linda R. is a busy Mum. Linda tells us exactly how meditation has benefitted her by making her calmer and more easily able to cope with the stresses associated with being a mother.
After the birth of my second baby I suffered quite severely from post natal depression. I felt so tired and anxious all the time and I began to feel as though everything was a huge effort. I felt like a terrible mother, my children had become use to being in front of a TV for too many hours a day, I wasn’t experiencing the joy of their childhood because I was so depressed.
A friend persuaded me to try a meditation class with her. I was pretty dubious about the whole idea but I persevered – meditating for about 20 minutes a day using guided meditations I found on-line. I began to notice that I felt less panic stricken. Less overwhelmed. I actually began to see my world differently, I felt joy again. It was as though I was awakening from an unpleasant dream to find that my reality was a whole lot nicer.
Meditation is a really core principle of my life now. Through it I have rediscovered myself, I have become a better, more patient, more insightful mother. It shows in my children’s happy smiles when they see me and they have, in turn, become calmer and more focused, less needy.
I feel as though my generation was cheated out of learning to meditate in school – something that educators have now realized is an essential life skill. Drop your preconceived ideas about what meditation is, just experience it, just try it. You will be amazed at how it can change you.
Dina – Suffering from loss
When my husband of 15 years died unexpectedly I was devastated. I could hardly breath I was in so much pain, I felt that my life was over. We had been so close to one another, it was like losing a part of myself. Weeks passed and I felt no better, it was as though everything had become dark, I dragged myself from day to day.
Trying to distract myself one afternoon, I Googled “find happiness”, the result was an assortment of sites, one of which was about guided meditation. I decided on an impulse to listen to one of the free guided meditation podcasts they offered. I chose one called “Letting Go”. There was no dramatic revelation or anything like it, I just felt a bit more at peace afterwards. Slightly less distraught. Over the next few weeks I listened to each podcast and meditated. One day I woke up feeling more refreshed than I had been, I realized it was spring, I opened my window and smelled the freshness, the perfume of the flowers.
It took some time, but gradually I started to feel whole again. I felt something like happiness, or at least contentment again. It was as though the terrible tide of grief that had overcome me had receded finally. I could breathe again, literally, my breath was the core of my being, the one thing that I could control. Meditation comforted me by allowing me to exist only in the moment, and to look at my pain more objectively. As a result I could deal with the process of my mourning more calmly while feeling more in touch with my inner self. I was able to comfort myself. To console myself and be kind to myself.I meditate every day of my life – it’s my way of coping.