I took up Yoga when I first moved to the UK for University. It was the first time in my life that I didn't have a horse to ride daily, and I hadn't ever set foot in a gym, let alone been running. I didn't really know what to do with myself, and quickly found that I was feeling restless. My mum suggested I try yoga, so I did. I loved it immediately, and it became something I did a couple of times a week. I enjoyed how calm I felt afterwards, but also how strong it made me feel. Yoga involved muscles I'd never really had to use before.
One thing that also comes with Yoga, is the encouragement to meditate. I'll fully admit that at first, I didn't even consider meditation as something I wanted to do, let alone would benefit from. I'd heard of it's wonderful qualities, how it would help my overall stress levels, aid my stomach issues, and make me feel like an all rounded happier person. But at aged 19, I really didn't want to bother with it.
A few years later, I was introduced to hypnosis after my panic attacks and depression had gotten to their worst. The hypnosis wasn't what you picture in your head (the doctor didn't make me run around like a chicken or anything) but he took me through a guided meditation, of sorts. After each session, I would leave feeling calm, happy and far less anxious... and the best bit was, that it would normally last quite a long time post session. With each session that I had, the results would last longer and longer, up to the point where I was more or less 100% better.
Fast forward to today, I no longer have problems with panic attacks (or if anything, they're REALLY rare), my depression is cured, and I'm pretty happy! However, by nature, I do get stressed out. I can feel it happening, but I find myself powerless to stop it. My heart rate speeds up, I can't stop fidgeting, and I feel like I have to do everything at a million miles an hour. So I began to meditate on occasion. I used an app, I went to a few classes, and I listened to YouTube videos. Every time I did it, I felt similar to my post hypnosis sessions; relaxed, and the results would last all day. Sadly though, I've not been very consistent with the meditation, so I've obviously not been feeling the real benefits of it...until this week.
Last weekend, I was feeling emotional. I was about to make a big announcement regarding Atlas, and although I was fine, I couldn't stop thinking about meditation. I was craving it. Call me a massive hippie, but I do believe that the universe (or whatever you want to call it) tells us stuff. Something was telling me that I needed to give it a proper shot. So I did. I decided that each day this week, I would take 10 minutes at least to meditate. Here's what happened:
I Feel Calmer: Obvious perhaps, but after each session, be it 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or the longest I did, 20 minutes. I felt calmer. I had quite a lot on my mind, between photoshoots that needed editing, announcements that had to be made, social media schedules that needed doing, and just other general life stuff, but I didn't panic. Even when it came time to make that big announcement, I was fine. Looking back now, I can't quite believe how fine I really was! If meditation every morning for ten minutes will help me to stay calm all day long, you can guarantee I'll continue to do it.
I Got Loads Done: I took my time to meditate each morning before I started work, and I think that this is where I got it right. I could easily have said that I'd do what I normally do (get up, eat and sit at my desk until the early afternoon), or I could take it easy for an hour and fit in some time to meditate. I did just that, and as a result, I'm convinced that my week was more productive. I write myself a big to do list each Sunday, and you know what? Everything on last weeks list was ticked off.
I Felt Really Happy: I tried quite a few different types of meditation in my first week. I used the app "Headspace," which I have used before, and knew I liked. I also listened to some of Rachel Brathen's guided meditations. I liked them both a lot, but I think as a beginner, I found it easier to follow the Headspace sessions. Only 10 minutes long, and quite easy to follow, with not a lot of spiritual talk (I don't mind it, but I struggle with some of it...), and for the time being, I've decided to stick with these ones. There's something about these meditation sessions that just make me feel so happy. Probably something to do with the fact that I'm actually calm...!
My Back Hurts: I can't pretend that it's all been easy though. Everyone recommends that you practice meditation sitting up, cross legged. They recommend elevating your sit bones by sitting on a block or a cushion, and sitting up as straight as possible. I've tried these things, but for some reason, my back really starts to ache after about 5 minutes of sitting like this. It tends to be my mid to upper back, between my shoulder blades. If anyone has any recommendations for me, I'm all ears, because for now I've resorted to sitting with my back supported, which I know isn't what you're really meant to do!
I Get Distracted: This is normal it seems, and I've felt it get easier in just the few days that I've been practicing, but my god is it hard to NOT THINK! One minute I'm focusing on my inhales and exhales, the next I'm thinking about what salad I need to buy in the supermarket. I'll quickly realise what's happening, and try to bring my focus back, but it's definitely tricky. It's not put me off at all though! I know that the more I practice, the easier it will get.
I've decided to keep this up, and hopefully see what the long term benefits will be. In the week that I've taken up meditation, I've felt such a huge difference in my state of mind, enough to convince me that everything that everyone has been saying for the past few years, is true.
If you're someone who gets easily stressed out, suffers with panic attacks, or nervousness, I really would urge you to try! Download "Headspace" and see how you feel. Give yourself a week, like I did, and take ten minutes once a day. I'd love to hear how you get on!
I think I'm supposed to say Namaste here... so... Namaste!