Health / Life

30 Days of Meditation

Higher Ground watercolor painting of meditation mountains stars chakra by Angela Conley

“Higher Ground,” watercolor by yours truly, 2009.

Meditation has proven to be very useful tool for me, although I wasn’t always aware of its power. When I was a teenager, I started practicing it as part of a yoga book I’d been given. The book, “Richard Hittleman’s Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan,” was my first experience with yoga and actually a book my mother had used herself when she was a teen. In the program outlined by the book, there was a form of meditation that involved staring at a lit candle. Back then, I didn’t embrace formal meditation as much as I did yoga, but the practice seemed to accompany the yoga nicely.

Roughly two years ago, I truly learned what a great resource meditation could be for myself. While at work, I’d experienced a panic attack, unbeknownst to me at the time. I’ve always been fairly healthy and hadn’t been stressed at the time of the symptoms and panic attack, so I couldn’t understand it.

I did some reading on anxiety and panic attacks and learned they can occur without a real stressor. This was somewhat comforting, but I still didn’t like how I felt physically. I also internalized the anxiety and felt crazy. After weighing things, I decided to start taking daily medication.

Because I didn’t want to solely rely on pharmaceuticals, I also looked into what I could do without medication for assistance. One thing I found is that exercise helps immensely and is a great form of relief when I’m feeling stressed. In my search, I also came across a website that described facing anxiety with a mindfulness approach, which led me to the subject of mindfulness meditation.

Being familiar with some Zen and Buddhist principles helped me understand how to perform this type of meditation, but this practice can be used for someone of any faith or background. In a nutshell, mindfulness is the practice in which you are aware of your thoughts and feelings, but do not judge them as correct or bad. Instead, you are in the present moment and simply notice these thoughts. Click here for a short article on how to practice this form of meditation.

Mindfulness meditation is now my go-to form of meditation. It’s still a challenging practice, especially when I don’t meditate regularly… which leads me to a goal: for the next 3o days (the whole month of November), I will meditate every day. I haven’t set a formal time limit, but a minimum of 5 minutes per day is a good foundation. I’m doing this because I feel the need to center myself regularly and the need for some spiritual structure in my life.

During the next 3o days, I will also blog my experience through the process. The only goal I have is to complete the meditation each day with the truest of intentions and to reflect on how it’s affected my all-around health. I look forward to it and will now start my first practice for the month. 🙂

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