Sit Down and Be Quiet.
I found the concept of a meditation “class” kind of boggling. Let’s all get together and sit quietly, completely ignoring each other! Judgments aside, I went to a meditation class today. It’s offered by the university for free, and one of the nice ladies who taught my anxiety group is the teaching assistant.
I’ve been reading a used book that I got for $5.00 at a spirituality shop. It’s called “Will Yoga and Meditation Really Change My Life?”, and features essays by 25 leading yoga instructors. First off, I love books with many different people telling their stories. I have another one about female body image, and it’s amazing what kinds of discussions you can have when you get so many viewpoints together like that.
One essay stood out to me, though. It was by a woman named Patricia Walden whose yoga video I had actually downloaded a few months ago, but found it too difficult. She was too thin and blonde and ridiculously flexible for my liking. Made me feel inept. But reading her story was completely different. Most of what you will find on the internet about her just states that she’s a phenomenal yoga teacher. In her essay, though, she talks about how she was diagnosed with a genetic (and therefore incurable) form of depression in her 20’s. She started doing heroin to dull the pain on the side, all while teaching yoga. Feeling like a fake, she eventually decided to give up the heroin, and weaned herself off of it. She filled the void with meditation, and through her practice she has changed her brain chemistry and healed herself, something doctors thought wasn’t possible.
Patricia’s story really hit home for me. I don’t know if anxiety has a genetic basis, but I do know that in the worst of times it’s hard to imagine anything that will help you feel better. Her story is an inspiration. She no longer deals with depression, and it gives me hope that one day I won’t have to deal with my anxiety either.
Back to today, my first meditation class. The class has been going on since January, but they let me join for the last 4 classes. Today I learned how to sit, how to relax the body, how to focus on the breath. Furthermore, I learned how to be comfortable with my thoughts. The goal of meditation today was not to have no thoughts, it was to not engage my thoughts. It was no longer about me, my feelings, my anxiety, my pain. Instead, I just noticed the pain in my body, the worries about school, and then let them go.
All day I’ve been feeling good, which is surprising to me. I didn’t expect that sense of relaxation to last. The nausea that has been plaguing my life the past few days is gone. I’m happy, and excited about the future. I don’t know how long this feeling will last. It might just be that I’ve done something new so my body is responding. But maybe I really can change the way I think, and teach my mind to be calm.
If you’ve ever considered going to a meditation class, I urge you to try it. It was very relaxing, and made me feel better about what I’m going through. Maybe it can help you deal with the stresses in your life as well.