I’m sure many of you noticed that my blog has been quiet this summer. My summer was a summer of nurturing my needs and increased self-exploration. The more I grow myself, the more I can help others. Also, as health practitioners we need rest! We are only human.
Part of this blog does involve investigating treatments and their efficacy. This time, the “treatment” includes my adoption of a new habit this summer – the 21 day meditation challenge held by the Chopra Center.
I’ve always had a busy mind. Like many of my patients, I find it difficult to quiet the mental chatter and get a bit of peace from myself. Daily meditation is something I have always tried to achieve and frequently put the needs of the day before my personal needs. When the opportunity arose to begin the process for myself, I jumped at it!
What are the benefits of meditation?
The benefits of meditation in mental health are long documented in research. Whether with support groups or performed individually, meditation helps individuals to reduce their dependence on medication for anxiety and depression, establish control for high stress, reduces panic attacks, and for some, reestablishes communication with spirituality.
Pathway to Love 21-Day Meditation Challenge
This 21-day meditation challenge was geared to have all participants go through a process of love. First, reestablishment of self-love by letting go of old feelings and hurts and appreciating ourselves. Then loving others, and looking at others in ways that we see the love and compassion for them rather than being antagonistic about the ways they are not serving us and our needs. Each daily meditation had a music component that was led by a narrator for 5 minutes, and then there was approximately a 10-12 minute meditation that followed. The meditation itself? Taking deep breaths in through the nose, and out through the mouth and either focusing on the act of breathing or by repeating a sentence (what is also known as a mantra) of the day, something to focus the mind.
Reflection on the process
It is recommended that you meditate at the same time daily. For myself, this was not an achievable goal, but as a result, I learned a great deal from the process. My most effective meditations were not before bed as I typically fell asleep in the middle, but either in a gap in my day with a few extra minutes whereupon I did not feel pressured. Meditations also worked well if I had been feeling stressed to bring me back into the moment, and diffuse the most intense of emotions.
Was it easy to quiet my mind?
Yes and no. Having a mantra on which to focus certainly helped, and focusing on breathing did also. It was only 10 minutes, so it was easy to convince myself to relax and just go with the process. I was happy I did. After every meditation, I felt like I had taken a long nap and was not tired, but extremely refreshed. I also realized how little I set aside for myself daily that did not involve something essential (eating, physical activity, working), but something to nurture me and myself alone. It was a wake-up call!
The new me?
I was also surprised how my feelings in general towards myself and others changed drastically before and after meditations. I had more compassion for others, but also for myself. My outlook on events changed, and it was easier to see things for how they actually are rather than what was getting in the way. My communication with my body improved. What was also surprising was one of the meditation days required a “cleaning out of the old”, and holding onto old feelings from the past. An event came to my mind that I literally had not recalled for years. The mind is an amazing place, the things that lurk in the nooks and crannies. Out the memories came, and away they flew into something calmer and more loving.
Have I changed as a person?
Somewhat, and more in the sense that I have a firmer grasp on who I am and what I need, but I’m still a work-in-progress like everyone else! It is a technique I believe that with time will drastically change how your think and feel about yourself, and the world in general. Like brushing your teeth, you don’t see changes right away but once your pearly whites are gleaming, it’s obvious your work has paid off when you take a look in the mirror.
I have continued to recommend this technique after the experience as I did before in practice, however now I can truly say that it is not only easy to do daily, but very much essential. Give it a try, I think you can say you are better for doing so.