Hello to all yogaflavoredlife.com readers! My name is Kelly Thompson, a freelance writer/editor/yoga lover. It is a pleasure to “meet” all of you and I’m really excited to be writing for this blog where we’ll delve into meditation, total wellness and all things yoga!
I have practiced yoga for over a decade, which is saying a lot for my young twenty-seven year-old self. I have always found peace in each pose and solidarity in each breath. And in fact, I’d even say I’ve become pretty good at it. I can bend and stretch with the rest of them, despite a nasty knee injury. But here’s a little secret about me: my hours spent practicing yoga are the only hours of my life in which I feel any semblance of calm. The rest of my existence is spent in a constant state of anxiety and stress. Essentially, I need to take the techniques that I learn in yoga and apply them to the rest of my life. I need to meditate.
The problem is, I believed that some people are incapable of meditation, and that I am one of those people. We often hear, “My brain is never silent!” or, “But I can’t stop thinking about my To-Do list!”. Oh, fellow practitioners who are mediocre at meditating, I can relate. My mind runs at full speed, 24/7. When I try to go to sleep, my mind whirs with a complicated array of thoughts that grip me like a choke hold and refuse to let me drift peacefully into sleep. It’s so bad that I now keep a pen and paper by my bed so that I can put my anxieties on paper and get it all out of my system. Only then can I fall asleep and turn my brain over to a bout of fitful dreams.
To make things even more complicated, recently, I’ve been diagnosed with Grave’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid, and on Monday, I’m having my thyroid radiated with radioactive iodine. (For more information on Grave’s Disease, please check out this link to the thyroid foundation of Canada.) Grave’s is also known to heighten any feelings of stress, since patients often experience a feeling of constantly being “on the go”. So because of all this, I find that my mind is rapidly carrying away with me and creating scenarios that might not actually come to fruition, especially before some major medical intervention. What if something goes wrong? What if I end up feeling more rotten after treatment than I did before? What if, what if, what if?! Haven’t we all played this mental game at some point or another in our lives, when we allow our anxiety to get the better of us? The What Ifs can quickly control our lives.
My symptoms led me to discuss my mental health with my doctor, an endocrinologist and quite possibly the most compassionate and kind human being in existence. He said, “Kelly, my prescription is you need to chill out. Look into meditation.” He’s right. I need to calm my mind for both my mental and physical health.
After lots of determined research on Google and Amazon.ca, I thought my first step would be to read a book on my new obsession. The book I picked as being worthy of my attention is The Best Guide to Meditation by Victor N. Davich. When it arrived, I held it before me like some sort of religious text that would solve all my problems and answer all my questions. Unfortunately, this can never really be the case.
I should say, that the book is great. What makes it so fantastic is that it isn’t only accessible to newcomers to meditation like myself, but rather, the book goes into the deeper meaning of calming your mind, the origination of the practice itself, and holistic approaches to health that go beyond medications. It also simplifies things for the laymen but offers a more focused approach for those more learned and experienced. All in all, I felt I learned a lot when I read the final word on the last page.
So all filled with new-found information, I sat on the floor, relaxed my pose, and felt myself slip into peaceful relaxation. Or at least, that’s what I thought would happen. It didn’t really. My mind was concerned with what was happening around me. When am I supposed to start cooking dinner? Man, these pants are feeling kinda tight in the mid-section! What time is it? Oh dear, here we go again. The old Kelly rears her ugly head. Not the most successful meditating session. I was allowing myself to stress over the fact that I couldn’t relax! All in all, it was little more than counter productive.
But when I really took a few minutes to calm myself, focus on my breath and the teachings I’ve received in years of yoga classes, I realized that we all have our own path to meditation and finding balance. Mine might be a little more muddled than others. But in finding patience and permission to allow myself the time for my body, and this pesky brain of mine, to calm themselves, I will eventually find the peace I am looking for.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, was it? Neither will the perfection of my meditation practice. In fact, it will never be perfect. Then again, nothing worth having ever is.
All the best to all all readers on your own meditating paths. Just remember to give your brain all the time it needs. Dinner can wait.