Disclaimer: This blog post will be talking about my experience with panic and anxiety. This topic may be sensitive for some. Please take my advice/experience with a grain of salt and always consult your doctor first.
In all honesty: My anxiety and panic journey is far from over, but I’m proud of how far I’ve come so far. I’ve been feeling really vulnerable sharing this with you all, but I’m also grateful that I have. If you have caught my other mental resilience posts, then you might know that a small, daily meditation is how I’ve been starting my day. I passed the 60-day milestone last week, and I figured it would be a good time to share my current experience with meditation.
If you have been following my mental health series, you will know that meditation/mindfulness was one of the first things I used to try to heal my anxiety. Again, I’m far from a meditation or medical professional, and I can only speak from my own personal journey. Let’s get to it.
Before diving in, I thought it may be helpful to define what meditation really is. Generally, you are taking a small chunk of time out of your day (this could range from 3 minutes to however long you’d like) to sit comfortably and focus on your breathing – and your mind. Of course, it could be done standing up, lying down – you name it – but the main point is the focus on the present moment, and sit/spend time with yourself. Meditation practice is not a religious practice, and can be used by anyone. You can definitely go more in-depth with this, but I’ll leave it to the pros to explain that (Calm does an excellent job).
This was mentioned in my first post, but I became even more intrigued with meditation when I watched the Netflix documentary Minimalism. In the film, journalist Dan Harris shared his own story about his panic, and how much meditation helped it. To be fair, I was also becoming agoraphobic and having several panic attacks daily, so I was absolutely desperate for something to work.
Slowly after that, I began to meditate for about 15 minutes at a time, using one of my favourite apps Calm. The guided mediations are really helpful for those who have never meditated, or are skeptical of it. I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I have Type A/Perfectionist tendencies (seriously was in denial till January), and I would like to blame them as to why I’ve never thought that meditation would work for me.
I can’t sit still. I can’t quiet my mind. I’m too fast-paced for this. It will never work for me. – These were common excuses that I used to hold off at giving this a try. The funny thing is, if any of those statements also resonate with you, you probably need meditation more than you think.
I’m not here to get preachy, because I do believe that you can make the best choices for yourself. But for me, meditation helped me significantly. I saw effects in just a week, going from an agoraphobic, can’t-get-out-of-bed, panicked me to an actual human being again. I started making small trips outside with the boyfriend, and even taking public transit again on my own from time to time. To be frank- I still felt like shit but hey, at least I was moving. And, it was much easier to get back to neutral when I started to feel panicked.
The downside for me? It got old. REALLY fast. The first week I felt great, looking forward to my practice each day. By week three, I was ready to chuck my new routine. It was kind of like working out – feels great once you start, but after a few weeks, you become less motivated. However, also much like a workout – you’ll never regret it. Some days are more difficult than others, but I’m always glad that I did it. Even when I didn’t feel like getting cross-legged and pressing play on the next meditation, I went ahead and committed.
One tip that I recommend is to adjust your meditation when needed. The times it was hard for me to practice for 15 minutes, I adjusted it to 5. Although it’s important to be consistent, it was more important for me to feel good after I meditate.
DAILY VS. “WHEN NEEDED”…
I gotta be honest – I haven’t been doing it every day as of lately. However, I do think that practicing daily is best. Even though I dread getting started sometimes, I always feel much better after I’m done. Even just 5 minutes.
I don’t see myself straying away from the guided meditations on Calm. I really like the variety they have, and it’s certainly worth it for me to pay monthly to have access to all of them. But what it really comes down to is your preference. For now, I really like using guided meditations, but I haven’t closed myself off to silent meditations. It really all depends.
WILL I KEEP GOING?
Straight answer – yes. It has been extremely effective in helping my anxiety, and even my sleep. I may adjust the length of time I do it for each day, but it has been proven very helpful.
I hope this was helpful for anyone who is thinking about trying meditation. It really helps me keep calm and get back to neutral when I feel panicked. As always, I am open to hearing your suggestions & tips!