In an early post, I mentioned that I have pretty bad anxiety that I have dealt with my whole life. So bad that it has caused panic attacks and physical pain and discomfort in my abdomen. Yeah… not fun stuff at all.
I knew I had to start dealing with my anxiety or it would just keep getting worse and I would be miserable. I started to work out 6-7 days per week and, while that did help, it was only a temporary fix. I would feel great for an hour or two after the workout but then the anxiety of life would start creeping back in again.
My wife is a yoga instructor and very knowledgable about how the mind and body works together and if one of them is off, it throws off the everything else. She started coaching me on things I can do with my body to relieve stress and anxiety along with different breathing techniques.
Now, I grew up a “jock” and thought I was pretty tough guy so the thought of yoga scared me a bit. In fact, to this day I still haven’t been to one of my wife’s classes. Before you call me a bad husband… just know she prefers I don’t come because she said it would make her nervous if I was there.
However, I was willing to take some of her yoga practice techniques and apply it to my everyday life to see if it would help with my anxiety. That is how I got into meditation.
How to Get Started Meditating
When my wife first told me about meditation and mindfulness, I thought it sounded dumb to be honest. I could hear myself thinking “So I just sit there and breathe? How is that going to help” as she told me about it.
Still, I was open to give it a try. I downloaded the app “Calm” on my phone, went into my office, closed the door and blinds, shut off every electronic device, and started Day 1 of the 15 days of mediation. I wore a heart rate monitor to check what my heart rate was before and after the 15 minutes of mediation.
Now, I thought this was going to be easy to just sit there and breathe. But, man… it was tough for me to sit there and do nothing but concentrate on breathing. My ming would race, I wanted to fidget, I wanted to check my email… I just couldn’t sit still.
It May Take a Couple Sessions
Needless to say, the first session didn’t go well. But, it also helped me realize my problem and what I needed to work on. I needed to be able to let go of work and life and just concentrate on being present and in the moment.
The second time I did the exact same thing. I went into a quiet room, turned off everything, and closed the door and the blinds. Only this time, I laid on my back and stretched my limbs out as far as I could and put a pillow under my head. I wanted my body to be as relaxed as possible.
I tried so hard to concentrate on my breathing and what the instructor was saying. While my mind still raced from time to time, I was able to bring it back to the moment much better and complete the session without moving. I checked my heart rate and it was 85 BPM before the session and 62 after. I have to admit, I felt great and so relaxed I could take a nap.
I continued this every day for the next 14 days. The iPhone app “Calm” not only helps you relax and work on your breathing, but also gives you tips and techniques to use in your everyday life to be more present. Tips I still use everyday when I feel my anxiety kick in and start to worry about the future.
How Mediation Can Help Anxiety
For me, mediation is not a cure all for anxiety. Just the same as working out isn’t a cure all either. But, its an important part to improving your mental health just like working out is. I see it as another piece to the puzzle to a better mental state and a happier life.
Working out, eating right, mediation, laughing… these are all pieces to the puzzle of feeling better both mentally and physically. If you start losing pieces, you start to feel worse and worse as the stress and anxiety builds up.
The best part is that meditation requires next to nothing. You can download the app to help you out like I did but you don’t have to. All you need is just a quiet place where you can shut out life’s craziness and concentrate on the present with every breath.
I still meditate almost every day and it is one of my favorite parts of the day. I can feel the weight of my day just fall off my shoulders and I don’t think about work, finances, life events, etc. When I’m done, I am in such a great mood I feel like I can do anything!
Don’t Think, Just Do It
People sometimes think mediation requires you to be in the mountains (kind of like the above picture) or on the beach with hours to be “one with nature”. In reality, if you have a quiet room and a cell phone app, you can do it in 15 minutes and feel 100% better about your day.
Again, I’m not saying mediation will cure whatever is ailing you. But, it will definitely help you relax and be more present. I would strongly advise on getting a coach or an app to help you if you are just starting. It help you focus on being present and give you tips to use when you are not meditating and start to feel anxious or stressed.
If you are reading this, I’m guessing you are considering meditation but just aren’t sure where to get started. Hopefully, after reading this post you have a better idea of the benefits of meditation and where to begin. If you have any other questions about mediation or anxiety, leave a comment below and I will get to them ASAP. And, always remember, you are not alone!