“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, not to anticipate the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly. – Buddha
For most of my life I’ve had a lot of issues with anxiety. My anxiety level was almost always sky high and I was worrying about something, anything, everything! It didn’t matter what it was or wasn’t. I was over-thinking, obsessing, worrying, ruminating, etc. People would say “Just don’t think about it!” , “Let it go!”, “What is worrying going to do for you?”, etc…but hearing that just made me more frustrated. More anxious. Sure, it sounds easy to let I go, but it’s not. Especially when you are the middle of it, it’s impossible to see any reason. I honestly felt kind of crazy a lot of the time.
A couple of years ago I started doing yoga regularly. I had done it before, here and there sporadically throughout my life, but I never really understood what the big deal was. My mom took me to a beginner workshop to a yoga studio by her house. The moment I walked into this building I was I knew this was somewhere special. The class was amazing and after that I started taking classes there regularly. When I was on my mat, for the time EVER, I was learned to quiet my mind. I don’t think I had ever been able to do that before. It was amazing! I was hooked. Quieting my mind off the mat though, well – that was a different story! I was still really anxious and worrying constantly.
It wasn’t until I began yoga teacher training in september and was introduced to the concept of meditation, that things really started to shift for me. The idea of sitting quietly with myself for any period of time sounded horrendous. I knew what my mind was like when on a normal day, when I had stuff to do to distract me. The thought of trying to watch my thoughts and be still…you have got to be kidding me! I thought it would never be possible for me. For teacher training, part of our homework was to start meditating daily; practicing watching our thoughts without judgment, staying present, focusing on our breath.
I dreaded the thought of trying to implement this into my already busy life, but I decided to give it an honest try. I started with 5 minutes of seated meditation first thing in the morning. (Once I got comfortable doing it for 5 minutes, I gradually started increasing my time by a few minutes a day, until I was up to 30 minutes a day. Although, if I didn’t have time I’d just do 5 -1 0 minutes.) At first it was really, really hard. Sitting still felt impossible. My mind went off in to all sorts of crazy places. I’d think of the million little things I needed to do RIGHT at that moment. I was also really good at running away with my thoughts. The concept of watching my thoughts didn’t really make sense. I tried to do it daily, but of course there were days that I missed. Another challenge was not be too hard on myself about whether or not I was “doing it right” or worrying about the thoughts that came up. I’d sit there the entire time worrying about how I wasn’t doing it right. I had to learn to let it all go and just be compassionate with myself. That took time too, but it eventually became easier. This personal growth stuff is always a work in progress!
I really started to notice the difference this practice was making in my everyday life on days that I didn’t get up and do it. I noticed that when I meditated I was much more calm and grounded throughout the entire day. I was starting to notice my thoughts . The more I practiced watching my thoughts, the more I was able to redirect or change them, to stay present, to let stuff go that normally would send me over the edge. Coming from a calm state of mind I started to focus more on the positive. My anxiety level decreased drastically. I was amazed! It was hard for me to believe that just 5-30 minutes of sitting quietly with myself could really make that much of a difference in my life. The more I practiced this though, the more proof I got that it works. It really, really works. Learning to stay in the moment and be still with myself and my thoughts changed everything for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still do struggle with this sometimes. It’s hard! I’m an anxious person by nature. I have my moments! It’s really, really hard, but like I said before – the more you practice it, the easier it gets.
Know that you are in control of your thoughts! You are NOT your thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts. They come and go. It’s possible, with practice, to just notice them. Not labeling them as good or bad, just letting them pass through without judgement. It’s a hard concept to grasp, but mediation helps. It’s so easy to get swept up with life, letting your thoughts and worry consume your every moment. Practicing meditation, even for just 5 short minutes a day, can help you calm your mind and change your life.