Year after year I found myself questioning my sanity. Why was I always feeling overwhelmed, mentally exhausted, frustrated, anxious… the list went on. I just didn’t feel “right” .. like there was a heavy weight on my shoulders. A feeling like something was about to go wrong, all the time. I felt off-balance and foreign to myself.
I tried everything you could think of … spas, long walks, exercise, long drives, yoga, long baths, easy listening music, candles. I would feel better for the moment but honestly, nothing seemed to truly help. My mind was racing at mock speed and I was feeling mentally drained and unfulfilled in life. After meeting my husband in 2006 I began a more spiritual journey. He was someone I admired. Cool and calm in all situations. Chilled and relaxed. Nothing seemed to bother this guys. I envied what his mind must feel like and yearned to learn how his carefree outlook could be a learned behaviour by myself. It’s been a long work in progress, but one of the very few things that I have learned really helped me in achieving this was meditation.
At first I thought of meditation as “hokey” … What? You want me to sit in the middle of a room and “om”, and “chant” … you must be out of your mind!
Meditation has been around since the beginning of time and has played an important role in many traditions, religions, beliefs, and cultures. In our Western society we seem to be bombarded with the stress of everyday existence. So much so, that we spend most of our free time trying to find an “out”, or a way to “release” the stress we accumulate each day. We spend any and all spare time we can by running, yoga, walking, meditation etc.
In addition to my husbands chilled demeanour, my ancestry has also played a part in my spiritual awakening. I am half Japanese and my Grandfather was Buddhist. He passed on many years ago, as did my Grandmother. I took my curiosities about the Buddhist faith and headed to the temple with a friend. We arrived one morning on a day when the Monks were in prayer. At first it was a little strange as I had never seen this in person. After a few minutes, I found myself mesmerized by the euphoric sounds and tones and oddly enough, I was at peace. God truly gave me a gift that day.
I left the temple feeling at peace. My shoulders felt so light and I felt calm and relaxed. Nothing could ruin my day, I was ready to conquer the world. I wanted that feeling to last forever, but how? Become a monk?
I was able to take a recording of the prayer home. It was in the form of a portable recorder that the temple gave to individuals that day. I took it home and as I sat on my floor, cross-legged, I decided to turn it on. I closed my eyes and focussed on my breathing. After a few minutes of feeling odd, curious if my husband was going to burst into the room and wonder what I was doing, I began to feel at ease. I was able to let go. I was meditating.
When you meditate, you clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress. Some of the benefits include:
- Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
- Building skills to manage your stress
- Increasing self-awareness
- Focusing on the present
- Reducing negative emotions
I made a conscious effort to spend time in meditation. I created my own little area with a beautiful table filled with a statue of Buddha, candles, asian wood carvings, insense, Buddhist prayer beads, and water that had been blessed by the monks that day . It was my serene, calm peaceful place. My very own meditation room. Over time I noticed a marked improvement on my concentration, my anxiety, my level of stress on a day-to-day basis, my sleep. The list went on. It has also taught me a lot about patience … the technique of breathing in and breathing out. This cannot be rushed. You must slow everything down and learn to appreciate each second. Allowing your stress inside of you to be exhaled with each release of air is truly cathartic.
My meditation room has now turned into my son’s bedroom but every night before I go to bed, as I lay in bed, I listen to meditative or calming ambient music and I focus on my breathing. My affirmation goes a little something like this, “I have learned lessons from everything that God has put in my path today. I learn from and keep the good. I gather all of the negatives and breathe them out as I am now done with them. I breathe in clean and pure energy, and release the negative. Namaste“.
Taking time to decompress from the stresses of everyday life is something that every single one of us should learn to do. We owe it to ourselves to take time to recharge and refocus our energies into a more positive mindset. Meditation is just as important in our lives as daily physical fitness. If you haven’t tried it, I think you should. Besides, you have nothing to lose, right?
“By sitting and mindfully breathing for ten minutes a day, in as little as eight weeks you strengthen the part of the prefrontal cortex involved in generating positive feelings and diminish the part that generates negative ones.” Richard Davidson, PhD.