Submitted by Sam, a Simple Habit user.
“I meditate so I can hold on to my joy.”
My mother often reminds me to hold onto my joy when dealing with stressful situations. That’s much easier said than done, because there are several sources of stress in my life. I’m finishing my Master of Accounting degree and looking for a full-time job simultaneously. The CPA exam looms on the horizon. My current part-time job is way more aggravating than it should be. Sometimes I feel lonely and out of place. I don’t sleep very well. On top of all that, I experience general anxiety. Questions take hold in my mind and refuse to let go (Did I lock the door? Did I say that out loud? Did I write that?). I have terrible thoughts over which I have no control. I ruminate on the past. According to the news, the world is coming apart at the seams, and that exacerbates my stress even more. Most days I get along just fine, but sometimes my anxiety is overwhelming to the point that I feel like I’m going to explode.
So that’s why I decided to practice meditation. The idea to meditate every day actually came from a psychiatrist friend of mine. However, I also wanted to use guided meditations that would help me stay on track and practice mindfulness in the most effective way possible. I finally chose Simple Habit after trying out several meditation apps. If there was one thing that caused Simple Habit to stand out among the other apps, it was the voice of the Australian narrator. Her voice is so soothing and filled with compassion that I feel like she genuinely cares about helping me manage my anxiety (even though we’ve never met). I even remember her telling me to have a nice day at the end of the first meditation, and how it brought a smile to my face.
There are so many other things I like about the app. Morning meditations help me take ten minutes to calm down after I drive to school and before I go to work or class. The At Work meditations help me regain my composure when I find myself on the verge of losing my temper. Sometimes I just like to sit still and listen to the sounds of the rain or the ocean. The app’s meditation log also provides a sense of accountability which encourages me to meditate every day. The coolest thing I’ve had happen during some of the meditations is that I would feel a sense of euphoria in my head because of the increased oxygen intake.
Although I’ve only practiced meditation for a month, I think it has begun to improve my overall mood. Yes, I still deal with anxiety from the sources I mentioned earlier. On the other hand, school doesn’t seem as stressful as it did this time last year. I made it through the job recruiting process without losing my sanity. One of the guided meditations helped me realize that I’m finally over my ex-girlfriend after so many months of heartbreak, anger, and loneliness. I feel like I’m more connected to the present rather than trapped in the past.
It has become clearer to me that my thoughts are just thoughts and do not represent who I am.
I know that my story is not unique. There are so many of you out there who deal with issues similar to mine, but maybe have an even harder time coping with them. I’m here to tell you that I know how much it sucks and that I sympathize with you. However, I’m also here to tell you that everything’s going to be okay. Nobody can totally eliminate anxiety from their lives, but everybody can manage it with discipline, encouragement, and the right tools. Based on my progress this past month, I highly recommend the practice of meditation to alleviate anxiety.
I have four suggestions that may improve your experience.
First, make yourself as comfortable as possible: lay down, sit up straight, go for a walk, et cetera.
Second, breathe with your diaphragm instead of your chest; it increases your oxygen intake. Place your hands on your stomach and feel it moving as you take deep breaths in and out.
Third, meditate every day, even on the days you feel great.
Fourth, close your eyes and imagine sitting alone at your favorite place in the world as you meditate. I know it sounds like a contradiction, but I do that sometimes because it helps me calm down and focus on my breathing.
Don’t be discouraged if your mind constantly wanders or you feel like you’re failing at meditation. To put things in perspective, Buddhist monks might spend their entire lives trying to master the practice of meditation.
The most important thing is that you take a few minutes out of your day to focus on your breathing, put aside your worries, and find your way back to the present.
I wish the best of luck to those of you that deal with intense anxiety. You’re not alone, and I’ll be right here rooting for you. Like I said earlier, I believe meditation is a great tool that you can use to combat stress. I hope what I’ve said will inspire you to give it a try. You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve in a short amount of time. Finally, if all else fails, remember my mother’s advice and always hold on to your joy. Life’s too short, you know it?
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