When I’m asked for help with anxiety, depression and stress, my first question is always “Have you tried mindfulness and meditation?”
Well, you should see some of the looks I get! Some people look at me like I’m crazy! Even some of my closest friends and family!
Let me put your mind at rest, meditating does not mean that you have to start wearing tie-dye, sitting crossed legged on the floor surrounded by incense while you chant. You certainly don’t need to change your beliefs or religion (or even have any religious beliefs, I don’t!). You won’t be asked to give up all of your belongings, move to monastery or become vegetarian – but feel free to do anything listed above if you fancy!
Meditating is very simple. You sit, lie or stand where ever you are, preferably somewhere quiet (but even that isn’t essential) and you take a moment to focus on your breath. Notice how the air feels cool as it enters your nostrils, that slight sensation on the tip of your nose. Notice how your chest, ribs and stomach expand as the air fills your body and then how they retract as the air leaves again. Notice how thoughts pop into your mind, and this is the part that takes practice, let them go without judgement or commentary – you can come back to them later. Simple, but not easy.
It can be such a relief to stop listening to that voice in your head jabbering on the whole time. I don’t know about you, but mine has a habit to run away with me….someone said they were going to call and didn’t? They’ve probably be in an accident. Almost certainly they are badly injured if not dead. The police are bound to knock on my door at any moment. See…my thoughts have spiralled out of control without so much as a blink of the eye and I’m now in no position to question whether they are true or not because I’m too busy panicking.
Mindfulness helps to stop that spiral. Now I am usually more capable to jump in and question whether that thought is actually true.
I do want to give you a word of warning though, it comes as a quote from Jon Kabat-Zinn “Meditation is not for the faint-hearted nor for those who routinely avoid the whispered longings of their own heart.”
Once you start to meditate regularly, you’re likely to be unable to maintain your façade of happiness if it’s untrue. That can be the problem with looking inside, you get to know and love yourself deeply, then it’s hard to settle for less.
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