Meditation has transformed my life. Here is Why.
I am a very anxious person. In fact, I have always been one.
Since my teenage years, I have struggled with my anxiety at different levels, be that by biting my nails, having issues with breathing and focus, or even having challenges by feeling disconnected from the world, since my head was always so full of thoughts.
I remember one of the things I used to tell myself all the time was: “Come on, brain, can’t you stop thinking for a bit? Just give me a break, please!”
I am sure that comes not only from my genetics, but also from the context I was raised in: My mother is also a very “accelerated” person, and there was quite some pressure coming from my family (and myself) to succeed in life and to always be a step ahead. I am sure this contributed to who I am today.
Even though I thought I could deal with my own anxiety, back in 2012, I faced some challenges in my personal life that led me to start having panic attacks and claustrophobia. These were not major incidents, but every time I would enter a plane or closed environment, I would feel like there was no oxygen available, and that would make me start panicking. I could always talk myself out of it after a couple of minutes, but this was the moment where I realized it was time to look for some professional help.
And that’s how I ended up in therapy.
A friend of mine suggested a shrink that he knew, and there I went. It ended up being one of the most transformational journeys of my life.
My shrink was not a traditional one. She followed a very different line of psychology, way more focused on body consciousness and energy, and she was the one to introduce me to meditation.
I still remember the first time I tried it: during one of our sessions, my shrink asked me to stop talkin and to put my feet on the floor, trying to ground myself. Then, she asked me to close my eyes and take deep breaths. She taught me how to count my breaths, and asked me to repeat the process until I counted a total of 20 breaths.
I was super resistant at first because I didn’t know what was expected of me. Was I doing it right? What was I supposed to be feeling? Was my body looking weird while I was doing it?
At first, I couldn’t really focus, and I certainly found the exercise weird… but we continued practicing it.
This practice has not only changed how I see meditation; it has changed my life and helped me control my anxiety. I have embedded meditation in my life on a daily basis, and I can see how much it impacts me positively.
For this reason, I have decided to share this article with you. On the following lines, I will explain not only what meditation is and its importance but also how you can get started, even if you have no experience at all (or even patience).
First of all: What is meditation?
According to Headspace,
“Meditation is both a skill and an experience — a formal exercise to cultivate awareness and compassion. By sitting with the mind, we’re training it to be more open and at ease, and we consequently discover greater calm, clarity, contentment, and compassion. In doing so, we increasingly learn to have a direct experience of the present moment.”
To me, meditation is a moment of deep focus that you can take for yourself anytime, anywhere. It is an exercise where you increase the level of awareness of your body and mind, and by doing that, you can experience more calm, tranquility and happiness (not necessarily during the meditation itself, but as a consequence of it). It also really helps me to see things in a more clear way.
It is important to notice that Meditation is not necessarily something religious, even though it has been included in the context of religion/spirituality for many practitioners. That means that even though you’re not a religious person, you can meditate.
There are many (really, uncountable) types of meditation. Some of them are Burmese, Tibetan Buddhist, Vipassana, Samatha, Transcendental, Chakra, etc.
For now, don’t worry about researching all of these: the most important thing you should know is that there are a couple of different techniques you can use, and they are usually based on those types. The most common techniques are Focused attention, Body Scan, Noting, Visualization, Reflection and Resting Awareness. If you’d like to know more details on it, you can find it here.
Why is meditation valuable?
As I mentioned to you, I have personally experienced many positive effects from meditation, such as:
Reducing anxiety and/or stress: it goes without saying, one of the biggest benefits of meditation is to help you feel calmer throughout the day and it can substantially decrease your levels of stress over time.
Increasing focus and body self-awareness: One of the techniques you can use in meditation is Body scan, and focused attention. By doing that, you can increase the levels of awareness and focus on your body. That is something I used to struggle with. Especially on tough days at work, when I feel very disconnected from my body, I tend to use these techniques to help me become grounded again.
Helping in falling asleep or waking up: I tend to meditate for 10’ before going to bed, to get me in the mood and calm my thoughts for the day. I also do the same when waking up, with a different type of meditation, to help me wake up and feel energized for the day.
There are many other benefits, but these are the most important ones to me.
How can you start?
Starting to meditate can be quite challenging for some of us. However, one of the most common mistakes I see is that some people try to go “all in”, and start by trying to meditate for 30 minutes every day or even more. If you’re not used to it, of course, it will not work!
Therefore, I recommend you to start with as little as 5 minutes, by using a guided meditation (you can find where on the resources below).
You can also take up a challenge of 7 days, for example, and share it with a friend, so you keep each other accountable. Another recommendation is to make sure you book the time for it, especially in the beginning, as this will still not be something that you will just suddenly feel like doing.
In case you don't believe meditation is made for you, there are alternatives: You can try sitting for a while and taking deep breaths, praying (in case you follow a specific religion or creed), journaling, or just contemplating the nature for a couple of minutes. Anything works, as long as it’s good for you!
Conclusion: You are in the driver’s seat
Summing up, meditation is a practice that can transform your life in many ways - it has definitely helped me become happier, and I can't say how much I enjoy it today.
Nevertheless, don’t forget that, like any practice, it will not always feel good (at least during), and you will never, ever, perfect it.
Moreover, you are the owner of your experience, which means there is no recipe for success: you have to try and see what works best for you, and that is only possible through constant adaptation and experimentation.
And don't forget: enjoy the ride. Namastê!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it :)
If you are interested in more information, feel free to check some resources on meditation below, or in case of questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Calm: App for meditation and sleep
Headspace: App for meditation and sleep (and my favorite one). I highly recommend the free trial of it, with the starters package of 10 days. By the way, you can also add me as a buddy and we can follow each other’s journey! If you want to add me as a buddy, here is the link!
2. Videos/Youtube Channels
Six-phase meditation by Vishen Lakhiani: A very complete meditation that goes through different aspects of your life and different techniques.
Depression to Expression: Youtube Channel with good meditation videos (I usually listen to the 10’ sleep meditation one).