For those of you who do not know my medical story, I have most certainly been through a lot. When it comes to pain, I have felt it. I started having surgeries at the ripe age of 8 years old. It started with bars in my back for scoliosis and then after they were removed at 12 it became a necessity to fix the problems that were created. Having surgeries on your spinal cord leaves an imprint on your nervous system that can be impossible to get rid of. I had nights filled with so much pain that I would cry until there were no more tears, just because I was exhausted. I tried MANY different medications and therapies, most of which were just to cover up the pain so that I could sleep. None of them were actually getting to the root of the problem and fixing it.
After hearing about the miraculous things that the mind can do, including healing ones body without the use of any medication; I threw myself into reading as much as I could about meditation. I had heard stories all over the internet that through meditation, one could overcome any sort of pain. It sounded like a bunch of hogwash to be honest, but I was so willing to listen to anything at this point, I gave it a try. At first, I felt like I was just listening to my thoughts.
Things weren't really all that magical, and it was as if I was still doing work instead of relaxing (that's because I was thinking about my grocery list and my to do list while I was trying so hard to be contemplative and mindful of the moment). After awhile, once I got a better grasp on my thoughts and concentrated on my breath, I became better at putting myself into a mindful state; even when I wasn't able to sit down for a real meditation moment.
It was only minutely obvious at first, but at a certain point, after focusing myself on learning to meditate, I finally became able to control my body's pain levels. It took (and still takes) a great deal of focus and concentration, but when a nerve pain would start stabbing one of my calves with it's blade of fire, I would think of a bulldozer pushing that pain down my leg, and out my toes. In the begining I was only able to focus enough to get the pain out, but it would just come right back as soon as I stopped concentrating, but eventually my concentration was exercised and I became able to control how much of the nerve pains I felt in front of people.
Not all days were great. In fact, more of the days were terribly painful than not, but I was seeing results, and that was all that it took for me to continue my practice. As I have improved on my diet and my lifestyle, my meditation practice has reaped rewards from that as well. My body feels more connected with my mind and that makes it much easier for me to keep tabs on what is going on with it. My mind has become so much faster, and responds quicker than it used to. I also feel like I come up with my best ideas while I meditate!
As a Mother, the BEST part of meditation for me is the spa-like stress relief that I usually need on a DAILY BASIS. Running after a very high energy child means that by the time bedtime comes for him, I am in need of an evening refresher before I can even get to the fun adult time!
Meditation also helps to calm and center the “crazy yelling mom” that can sometimes rear it's head…yes…I do it too. I absolutely HATE to yell, but there are those moment when you lose yourself and you go a little bit crazy because you have been ignored for the umpteenth time and you just want to go pee by yourself. I get it. Meditation is VERY helpful in these kinds of moments. Put your kiddo in their room and go put yourself in your own room. Take five minutes and meditate the stress of the moment away.
|I REALLY love this photo of this mama carrying her baby AND meditating! It's just so beautiful! I bet that baby benefits from this as much as the mama does!|
Do you want to learn to meditate? I think that it's very important that every person learn how to meditate because it is a green, earth friendly/people friendly way to get happier, gain better health, grow your brain, and de-stress from those daily crazy moments that seem to way upon your mind long after you have laid down to go to sleep. Studies have even shown that during meditation, your brain achieves deeper states of relaxation than it does during sleep; so around 20 minutes of meditation can effectively equal 4 hours of sleep! A quick 20 minute meditation while you are on your lunch break can make you feel like you just took a 4 hour nap! That means even if you “don't have time” you still have time. You do not need to meditate that long to reap the benefits of meditation. 5-10 minutes a day can impact your life over a few weeks time too, so don't give me that “but Chris, I don't have time to meditate even though I really want to learn!” I KNOW you have the time!
What is meditation?
While some people might have visions of monks in far off lands, sitting cross legged at the mouth of a cave overlooking a mountainous region; but in fact, meditation is actually used by many people all over the world. Meditation is a state of mind that any person can achieve by relaxing their physical body and concentrating on the breath where only awareness of the self remains.
Who is meditation for?
There are PROVEN (time and again, through MANY different studies) facts that meditation can do a LOT for a person on many different levels. It is not strictly for the spiritual person looking to forge a path and find themselves along the way. Meditation is for ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE. It is good for the physical body, the mental body, and the spiritual body.
What are the benefits of meditation?
- Relieves stress & calms anxiety
- Lowers blood pressure & cholesterol
- Increases fertility
- Increases brain capacity/size, power, & function
- Increases memory & and learning ability
- Increases immunities and lowers risks of cancer
- Anti-inflammatory (stress leads to inflammation)
- Makes you happier
- Reduces pain
- Reduces anger and emotional unstability
- Reduces and slows the aging process
- Treats IBS
- Treats migraines and headaches
- Increases productivity
- Increased compassion and love
- Increases self esteem and self-awareness
How Do I meditate?
There are MANY different ways that people say you should meditate. Every culture has a different method and none are incorrect.
What I have learned from myself and from my husband is that there is no right or wrong way to meditate. These are my general rules before meditating:
- Wear clothing that is comfortable to you.
- Make sure you have gone to the bathroom and gotten a sip of water so that you are not rudely interrupted during meditation, to relive yourself.
- Make sure the place that you meditate has a comfortable temperature and you are surrounded with whatever blankets or pillows you will require to be completely relaxed. I usually stack up pillows against my wall on my bed, so that I am sitting up against comfort and atop comfort. We are not meditating monks, we do not need to overcome any crazy meditation positions!
It is helpful to try and meditate in the same spot and at the same time, every day. This helps to build the habit so that you no longer push it aside for sleeping in, or doing something else. (Believe me, I have been there…still am all of the time!) I also personally find it helpful to have either some sort of wordless music (words tend to distract me from my focus) or even those wonderful “nature” cd's that have rain forest sounds, rain storms, and ocean waves, sometimes even backed by relaxing music. I have found that it is REALLY difficult for me to quiet my mind without music or nature sounds to focus upon.
- Get into a position that is comfortable to you. You can lie down or sit up, it is totally up to you and what will help you achieve a better state of relaxation. Most of the time I like to meditate lying down, but I do find that I have a different sort of meditation sitting up from when I lay down; so it is beneficial to try out both until you find what is working best for you.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Breath in through your nose and if you choose, out through your mouth. Focus your entirety of thoughts on you breathing in and out.
- You WILL find yourself straying from this thought process. That is ok. Your mind is working through everything that it needs to work on to get through all of the information given to it on a daily basis. It takes a long time to learn how to muddle through all of that and shut it off. When this happens, refocus yourself on your breath once again.
Allows those other thoughts to pass on, and just experience your breath.
- During this, when you are ready, begin to relax your body. Starting at the very top of your head, thing to yourself “relax your scalp.”
moving down, while focusing on your breath, think to yourself “relax your eyebrows. Move on down and relax your jaw. Continue this “body scan” all the way down to your toes; breathing in and out, and consciously relaxing every cell in your body.
- Continue this until you feel that you are finished, you want to be finished, or until you fall asleep. I LOVE to fall asleep meditating because I feel super rejuvinated in the morning. My dreams always end up being quite vivid after falling asleep meditating too.
Happy meditating! What kind of meditation experiences do you have?