A while back my psychologist recommended meditation to reduce stress and anxiety.
I thought to myself, “Meditation… for me? I thought only Buddhists or Monks practice that.”
However, I decided to give it a try and I have truly noticed the benefits.
Meditation doesn’t just mean sitting criss-cross-apple-sauce chanting ritualistic phrases. Meditation, or mindfulness, incorporates various relaxation techniques. They can involve focusing on one’s breathing, scanning the body, visualization, and/or self-awareness.
I think an important thing to remember with meditation is that it is not one size fits all. Meditation will look different for everyone who practices it. There is not a right way or a wrong way to meditate. With time, you will find out what works for you and stick with it.
Personally, I have enjoyed using apps (I use an app called Headspace). This one in particular has hundreds of guided meditations for different scenarios such as managing anxiety, stress, anger, eating, and even sleep! The possibilities are endless.
There were three big lies I believed when I first started meditating:
- Meditation will fix all my stress, unwanted emotions, and anxiety overnight.
Meditation and mindfulness are a mental workout. And like with any workout, it takes practice. This is not a quick fix to a stress-free life (I wish!). This is a practice toward becoming a healthier you. It takes time. It takes energy. And it takes discipline. I probably meditated for 3-4 months before seeing any benefit.
- “This is hard… so I must be doing something wrong.“
It is hard to completely focus your attention on something (for example, your breath) without having any other thought come across your mind. Try it! Try focusing your attention on your breath for ten solid seconds and see if you can do it (if you can, I am very impressed).
What I have to remind myself is that meditation isn’t trying to remove or stop the thoughts from coming.
Meditation is seeing the thoughts as they come, acknowledging them, and letting them go.
It’s as if you’re seeing the thoughts from a distance or like a car passing by you. You’re not ignoring them. You’re acknowledging their presence and then refocusing your attention back on your breath.
- I have to meditate every day for at least an hour to see any benefits.
Personally, I don’t have an hour each day to meditate. Sometimes it feels like I don’t even have five minutes each day. But I make the choice to do it. Not every day (and that’s okay). Even when I do it, it’s at most ten minutes (that’s okay too). Like I said earlier, mindfulness is unique for everyone.
Find out what works best for you, your body, and your routine. Then keep doing it.
I think the biggest takeaway I want to leave y’all with is to not give up.
If you try meditation or mindfulness practices and don’t see any progress, keep coming back to them. If you don’t like it, find something else – there are so many options available to you.
For me, meditation is something I’ve incorporated into my routine that helps when I’m feeling a little extra anxious or overwhelmed. When I feel like my thoughts are in control of me, versus me being in control of my thoughts, I know to set aside some time to meditate.
As I focus on my breath, the world seems less scary. My fears seem less big. And I can rest assured that the God who gave me this breath and woke me up this morning isn’t finished with me yet.
For more information on mindfulness check out this article by the Mayo Clinic.
Tatum Joy is the Director of Communications for Sheis. She currently lives in Dallas, TX where she pursues a Doctor of Audiology at UT Dallas. She is finishing her final year of graduate school in Charleston, SC. She enjoys bike rides, running, hanging with her girl gang, and has the biggest sweet tooth. Her passion is to use her love for encouragement to encourage the women in her world to know their worth and identity in Jesus Christ!
Follow along with her on Instagram @tatum_joy