Have the fears and worries of this life every snuck up on you and put you in a rear naked choke? If not, you’ve not lived long enough or you may possibly be a Zen master that has taken the advice of Bruce Lee and become like water. For the rest of us, life and its anxieties have a seemingly never ending ebb and flow. Our mind is a sea shore and whatever the waves decide to heap upon us is ours to ‘deal’ with.
There are countless ways that people cope with their stress, anxiety and depression. Some use drugs and alcohol, some take medication, others practice religion, some choose exercise etc. I suppose close to a decade ago I could have been designated into any one of these groups depending on the time of day. Much like my anxieties, my life was an ocean stirred up in uncertainty and irregularity. Routine was not in my vocabulary. And yet, I knew that I had to do something, so, I worried. I worried so much that I developed an anxiety disorder that required that I begin an SSRI. This is the type of medication that is most often prescribed to those who are depressed and/or anxious.
These seemed to work for a while, though I think that a placebo may have had the same effect on me. For a moment I accepted the fact that I was okay. I didn’t need to worry anymore. I could be free from this invisible prison in my mind my doctor described as General Anxiety. However, the panic attacks had only begun.
Fast forward 8 years, the attacks still come occasionally, but with much less frequency and far less severity. So, what has changed? No, I did not ‘up’ my dosage (in fact I was able to rid myself of the need for medication (consult your doctor before making any changes involving your health)). I did not attend a Tony Robbins conference. I learned how to meditate.
But what does it mean to meditate? It is defined as:
/ˈmedəˌtāt/ verb – think deeply or focus one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.
What is most important to remember about meditation is that your goal is not to get your mind to be completely blank; void of any and all thought. The key is to focus deeply on a singular thing. That thing can be anything. Reading, writing, praying, going for a walk and working through a problem are all forms of meditation when implemented and treated seriously.
Very often, my ‘thing’ is just focusing on my breathing. So often we forget to breathe throughout the day. That sounds crazy but many people with anxiety are simply not breathing correctly. It doesn’t have to be an hour long. Often, just 5 minutes will bring you back to base and calm your mind down. I also use 2 meditation apps; Abide, which is faith based, and Calm which is not. Both have been very helpful in my journey into meditation. I hope you try it as results are guaranteed to those who take it seriously.
“Meditation will not carry you to another world, but it will reveal the most profound and awesome dimensions of the world in which you already live. Calmly contemplating these dimensions and bringing them into the service of compassion and kindness is the right way to make rapid gains in meditation as well as in life.”
– Zen Master Hsing Yun
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
– Bruce Lee
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.