I wanted to share a very personal story with you which some of you may relate to.
Many of us live our lives in a chronic state of stress and most of us don’t even realise how high those stress levels have become until it’s too late. If you are reading this post today and you know your stress levels are at an all-time high, or you are going through a time of major change in your life and trying to navigate your way through those changes, I am hoping that by reading my story, you will feel able to turn to the healing power of meditation, something which has helped me numerous times through periods of upheaval, change, stress, worry, illness and grief. I dearly hope it can help you too.
I discovered the power of meditation in 2008 after I had been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called Behcets Disease. Without going into all the details, Behcets Disease is rare – about 1 in 100,000 – and usually presents with some pretty horrific symptoms which if left untreated become worse over time. For the majority of sufferers there is no cure, just long term treatment as it can come and go.
I had been very sick for about three months before I was eventually brought into hospital to be treated, as my organs were beginning to fail, as well as a host of other horrible side effects of the disease. I am thankful and grateful to be able to say that after a doctor-prescribed treatment plan of medication and my own self-prescribed treatment plan of meditation, good food, rest, laughter, positive thinking and daily affirmations, I recovered very quickly and the disease never returned.
Before my illness, I had endured a long period of chronic stress. After a pretty nasty break-up in 2005, I decided to move to the countryside, which was a 50km drive away from my job and my home in the city. Dublin is a very small city and the kind of place you could run into your ex literally anytime. So running away to the country seemed like a good idea at the time, Unfortunately I hadn’t considered the consequences of moving so far away – a long commute of 100km per day journeying to and from my very stressful job in the city, leaving home at 6am and not returning until 8pm each night, grabbing food on the go and forgetting to eat proper meals, not seeing my friends or family at weekends because I was too exhausted…the list goes on. I even used to stop off on my way home from work three times a week to go to the gym and would pound the treadmill like my life depended on it. I was still running and didn’t even know it. I did this for almost three years until in February 2008, I was totally burnt out and became very ill.
While I was in hospital and thankfully recovering, after the doctors finally discovered what was wrong with me, I was visited one day by the hospital chaplain who was doing his daily rounds and stopped by my bedside. We started chatting…just general stuff at first and then he asked me what had led up to me ending up so ill in hospital. I told him about my stressful life and break up with my ex. Then he asked me if I meditated. My first response was to laugh and say “I don’t have time to meditate” but he just smiled and told me he’d had that response from almost everyone he had ever asked the same question of.
We started talking about meditation and mindfulness and the positive impact it can have on our lives, particularly during times of stress or worry, or when we just need to quieten our mind and listen. I decided to try it and I was hooked. I have been meditating ever since.
After I left the hospital I moved back to the city, sold my house in the country, went back to work and decided to live my life more simply. I’ll write more about how I did this in another post, but meditation truly changed my life, my outlook on it and my health. I began to listen and finally stopped running. I realised I had either been running towards things or away from things my entire life and it was time to stop and follow my heart, listen to my body and to take care of my soul a little bit better.
I have created a Ten Minute Meditation For Letting Go which I hope you will find useful. Whether you are new to meditation practice or you’ve tried it before but didn’t find one you were comfortable with, you are welcome to try mine. There are often things we need to let go of – old habits, past hurts, pain, sadness, grief – and holding on to those emotions doesn’t serve us in the long term. So today, do something for YOU. Take ten minutes for yourself to quieten your mind and let go of the day. There are also some amazing apps out there and these can be really useful if you are on the go. I would recommend http://www.calm.com as it is one I use all the time and has a huge variety of meditations available. You can also access some amazing music and their Sleep Stories which are wonderful if you are struggling to get to sleep at night.
I really hope that if you are reading this, you can try to incorporate some meditation into your daily life. All it takes is ten minutes once a day to start off with and you can build up your meditation practice to as long as you need to or want to. I try to meditate at least once a day and find it easiest to do this at the start of everyday before work, before family, before life takes over. But it is also particularly beneficial to do a wind-down meditation in the evenings, just before bed to calm your mind after a busy day.
If you can make meditation part of your daily life and your self-care routine, I promise it is time well spent.
PS: I am not an affiliate of or sponsored by Calm (mentioned above) – I just love the App and am happy to share anything I find useful with you so that it may help you too, whether that’s one of my own meditations or someone else’s!