Meditation has always been something I never really knew much about. Like most people who aren't familiar with it, I assumed it was just about sitting and breathing in silence for a while.
I was so wrong. It's so much more than that.
Let me explain.
I grew up in a very loving family, with a gorgeous older sister whom I love so much and two wonderful parents. I was always very introverted, reserved, shy, and very much to myself. Afraid of judgment, afraid of failure, and afraid of the world. My parents would always say: be careful. It didn't matter what the situation was. Be careful, your glass is on the edge of the table! Be careful, don't make a mess! Be careful, the cat will scratch you! You're going out? Okay, be careful! Be careful, don't pop your pimples all the damn time otherwise you're gonna get scars, Catherine!
Be careful this, be careful that. I have been cautious all my life, fearing the worst in all situations.
I now carry a general anxiety backpack on me at all times, and this has certainly not allowed me to live a normal life. My generalized anxiety has controlled my every thought and action for a very long time - often stopping me from doing and saying a lot of things I should've.
Fast track to the beginning of 2017 - I hit a breaking point.
I had just moved out from my parent's house with my lover into our first apartment at 22 years old and had just begun a full-time position in the dental field. I inherited the ownership of 3 energy-filled beautiful animals from my boyfriend (1 Bluenose Pitbull, 1 Miniature Pincher, and 1 black cat). I think it's fair to say I went form having literally no responsibilities to having a lot of responsibilities that come along with adult life. All of a sudden I had so much to think about, so much to do, and so little time. I was overwhelmed!
I would come home after a long day of work in the health field and feel mentally and physically drained. I had to clean up, cook & eat, clean up again, clean again, and again, shower and get to bed to just repeat the same things the following day. I was unable to cope with the simplest tasks. I'd snap very easily at my partner and was unapproachable. I had absolutely no energy.
This resulted in built up stress and frustration. I had become so out of my head and so out of touch with reality. What was wrong with me? I had the love of my life by my side, our beautiful home, three beautiful pets, a good-paying career, a car...I had everything I needed. Yet, I still felt empty and infinitely anxious.
I was hurting physically and mentally. All this manifested as depression.
One day, my partner sat me down and advised I go to therapy. He would go too to deal with his anger issues separately. I am very grateful for this moment.
My therapist suggested I be more mindful and present in every moment. He highly suggested I try meditation. That week, I attended a meditation class at a local meditation center with my lover and my best friend.
We meditated in a room full of strangers, sitting quietly on chairs with our backs straight, our feet on the floor, and our eyes shut. As the teacher dove in deep to the topic at hand: impermanence and the concept of Death, I began coming to realizations. Tears poured down my face as I realized what I'd been doing to myself, what my parents have been doing to themselves and what so many others are doing to themselves on a daily basis.
It was all about MINDSET.
I was the one who was choosing to let my anxiety control me and win every single day.
I was the one choosing to bathe in my sadness, unconsciously waiting for an outside source to show me the light so I could feel better. No one was going to do this for me.
I was going to heal myself. I had all the tools I needed in my being to heal myself. Everything changed for me when I learned how to train my mind to react and feel differently.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is about training your mind to think and react differently.
It's about giving your mind the time it needs to relax.
It's about silencing all your thoughts, so you can awaken and listen to your intuition clearly and easily.
It's about practicing mindfulness - being aware of your thoughts and ideas, and how they affect how you live your everyday life.
Who Can Benefit From Meditation?
Anyone. Everyone. Seriously.
It doesn't matter your age, sex, occupation.
We all need time to focus on ourselves every single day, where we allow ourselves to relax and breathe. You can practice it anywhere, at home, at the office, on your commute to work, at your dental appointment. Anywhere.
Once you learn how to meditate and practice it regularly, your mind will eventually learn and know the new ways of living. Living a zen and abundant life.
How To Meditate
It's really simple, there are 2 steps to follow:
1. Find the object of meditation
What are you trying to focus on? What mental blocks are you trying to erase?
2. Your mind will wander, and that's normal
When it does, do not be judgmental or critical. Acknowledge that your mind has drifted and gently bring it back to the object of meditation.
New To Meditation?
Try this easy breathing meditation exercise:
1. Find a quiet spot where you will not be distracted.
2. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed and your back straight, or, on a chair with your back straight and your feet planted on the floor.
3. Set the mood: Light a candle, burn incense, vaporize your favorite essential oils for ultimate relaxation (my favorite for meditation are Lavender and Frankincense by doTERRA). You can also put on some peaceful meditation music. Spotify has some really good playlists for this!
4. Get yourself in a comfortable position and rest your hands on your lap. Close your eyes.
5. Start by taking 3 long deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose slowly, breathe out through your mouth slowly. This will help you relax and clear your mind. Let go of all the worries of the day. Feel your body relax with every exhale.
6. Take a moment to scan your body from head to toe. Are there any tensions or blocks you can feel physically or mentally? Release them with every breath. Take this time to care for yourself.
7. Now, focus on the sensation of your breath. You can choose to notice how it feels at the tip of your nostrils, as the cool air enters and the warm air exits...at the level of your chest, as it rises and falls with each breath.
8. Be mindful about your breathing! We often don't realize how shallow our breathing is during the day. Notice this now and focus on slowing it down. Do not focus on trying to control your breathing now, instead, focus on the sensation. How does your body feel every time you inhale? How does it feel every time you exhale? Be present in this experience.
9. Your mind will definitely wander. This is normal. When it does, do not judge yourself. Acknowledge that your attention is no longer on your breathing, accept this and smile, and bring your attention back to the sensation of your breath.
10. Repeat for as long as you want. You don't need to meditate for long. You can start at 5 minutes and increase as you go. When you are done, make a determination to carry this feeling out of your meditation.
You are essentially training your mind to be mindful of your breathing.
You can apply this to anything you need help with in your life.
If you struggle with anxiety and depression, PLEASE give meditation a serious try.
You can train your mind to see your world in a new light.
At the end of the day, you are the only person that determines your happiness. Not anyone else. Not a lover, not a parent, not a pet, not a house or a car.
You are in control of your happiness.
You can alter the way you react to situations or the way you think about certain things. For instance, if you know you always react with anger to a certain trigger, get yourself in a meditative quiet mind so you can reflect on this. Bring yourself to that situation, picture it in your mind as if it is happening right then, and make a determination to react with love and compassion instead of anger when this situation occurs.
Train your mind.
Eventually, when this situation presents itself again, you will remember to react with love and compassion. It will come naturally. Feel love and compassion flowing in you. Choose to always see the light and the good in others.
We are all human. We are all connected. We all want the same thing. We all want to be loved and to be happy.
*TIP*: Take time to incorporate meditation in your daily routine. You can do it in the morning or after a long day, or in your drive home... really... anywhere.
I wish you all happy meditations.
I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions about meditation, or need guidance, please feel free to contact me!