I first ‘discovered’ meditation right at the beginning of this year. I had about two weeks off work to spend Christmas with family and friends, and though it was a blissfully happy time, this happiness for some reason developed a darker edge. Somehow all of that joy and love also brought fear and anxiety – it was almost as if the more I came to appreciate how lucky I was, the more anxious I became that somehow it could be taken away. I started to have trouble sleeping and my mind started to race away with itself, giving me an almost permanent sense of ‘impending doom’, and conjuring up images and thoughts of anything that might have the power to make me feel upset or anxious. When I asked friends (and Twitter!) for advice, I was recommended meditation, yoga, and to read a book by Eckhart Tolle called The Power Of Now. I found it a complex but extremely enlightening read and it certainly helped me challenge myself in terms of my thought patterns and anxiety. I found this brilliant image on a Book Club site which has a little more about the book and the lessons contained inside.
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I learned about meditation through the Headspace app, which has a free section of meditations before you then go on to have to purchase a paid membership. I religiously undertook my ten minutes of meditation for about a month or two before I slowly slipped out of the habit.
I think that yoga, meditation and practising mindfulness (more on mindfulness here) are easy things to slip out of the habit of. I was almost ‘medicating’ myself with meditation and mindfulness, and as soon as life got a bit more comfortable and the anxieties started to slip away, I forgot about making time to find quiet and peace, didn’t always find time for yoga practice, and began going about my busy life again.
I’ve not exactly kept it a secret that I’ve found things a little challenging since coming back from holiday. I try to generally be a positive person, but if you follow me on Twitter you might have seen me whinging about my new commute (I’ve transferred from an office five miles away to one 25 miles away), and traffic has meant that I’ve been spending between 2 – 3 hours on the road a day. I was previously in a very lucky position whereby flexitime and living so close meant that I was arriving home at 16.30 with lots of time to myself for blogging, reading, walking the dog, etc – but over the last few weeks I’ve been getting home relatively late and exhaustedly having dinner and going straight to bed. It’s fair to say I’m not really carping many of my diems at the moment! Added to this, I’ve been having terrible trouble sleeping, meaning I lie awake for several hours a night and then feel like a bit of a zombie for a lot of the daytime. I’m hoping this is still some residual jetlag and that I will get back to normal soon.
After another night of feeling guilty about not having blogged, seen friends, done any exercise or had any proper ‘me time’, Tom suggested that I think about picking up meditation again. And of course it was an excellent suggestion.
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I also happened upon a recommendation of a book called Spirit Junkie, which I’ve been enthusiastically devouring. I’ve also started going to yoga classes at my new gym and had a really lovely class last night with lots of blissful relaxation and rejuvenating stretches.
I feel like I’m starting to get back to feeling like ‘me’ again, even though getting stuck behind a tractor doing 15mph on a 60mph road through the forest for half an hour really tested the limits of my newfound zen! I also want to make more time for being creative and ‘unplugging’ – I have pulled out lots of notebooks, my Wreck This Journal and The Pocket Scavenger and even bought myself a lovely new fountain pen to help inspire me to write! Another plan is to start getting the train instead of driving to work (even though the cost of it makes me weep) and to reserve that time for a bit of reading and notebook scribbling.
What do you do to find peace in times of change or challenge?