A 21-day meditation challenge journey to myself

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.

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