Meditation. Some people have a difficult time seeing the benefits. During my graduate school years, I had the opportunity to learn about guided meditation. I used it with many clients and they found great success from it. However, I was really bad about meditating on my own time for myself. I was, what I considered at the time, “hardcore”. I was running marathons, teaching kickboxing, lifting big weights, etc., etc., etc. I “didn’t have time” for meditation or yoga.
In 2009 I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Scleroderma. I was experiencing a lot of joint pain and running had become difficult for me. Running WAS my meditation at that time. If you’re a runner yourself, you’ll understand. The fact that I had to stop running marathons was excruciating. I fell into a bit of a depression. I had 3 young boys at home and running was my outlet.
Fortunately, I was able to continue teaching all of my classes with modifications. After researching Scleroderma and meeting with a rheumatologist, I discovered just how important stretching is. It is important for everyone, of course; but it is extremely important for those who have this disease.
I decided to give yoga a try. It took me a few weeks, but I ended up falling in love with it, which eventually lead to teaching it. The meditative portion of yoga is one of my favorite sections. It took me a while to get there, though. To slow down my mind to where I could just focus on my breath and body and not think about all the errands I had to run or things I needed to do. I discovered that meditation helped me focus, it made things more clear. I started eating healthier, making better choices overall, and in turn, lost all the baby weight and then some from my last child’s birth.
Meditation may look different for everyone. Some like to sit, legs crossed, hands in “prayer” at heart center or wrists on the knees with the thumb and one of the fingers touching (there are eight Mudras, or different hand positions, in yoga that represent different focuses). This is traditional meditation. Others prefer to stand in a mountain pose. Personally, I like to lie down in a quiet, fairly dark room. I close my eyes and take some time to just focus on my breath, breathing in and out “between my eyes”. The sound of “yoga” or “meditative” breath is different than our regular breath.
Personally, guided meditation works best for me. I have a few that I use in my classes and on my own. One of personal favorites:
I like to imagine I’m lying on a secluded beach. I can hear the waves, feel the breeze and sun on my skin and muscles, and smell the ocean air. I can feel my body form to the warm sand beneath my body. I start at the crown of my head and work my way down to my toes. I like to feel the stress and tension in my neck and shoulders move towards my fingertips where it drips off and disappears into the sand beneath me. I like to feel the stress and tightness in my mid-lower back and legs move to my toes where it drips off into the water. I imagine the waves taking it away from my body.
Once I’ve gone through my guided meditation, I pay attention to how relaxed my body feels. How my breath is naturally slowed. It is no longer forced. In the evening, this helps me fall asleep. In the mornings, I tell myself (or those in my class) to remember this breath and how relaxed I am. I say to take this with and use it throughout the day when we find our bodies tensing up. I use it when I’m feeling overwhelmed or when I’m considering eating something unhealthy that I really don’t want or need. It has become a daily part of my routine and has helped me manage stressful situations.
Meditation is not just for yoga; it is for every day use.
Give it a try if you haven’t already… It truly is a beautiful thing.