Today's Guest Blog is from one of our "teammates" and friend... John Wilson....
I wanted to share his amazing story with you....
“Meditation….It just may work….and you may be doing it already.”
Dana, I had some thoughts on your meditation post. Personally, I think it works and I believe you are doing it already in your own way.
Anxiety has been a part of my life since childhood. It started with nail biting. As time progressed, the anxiety moved to excessive worry about myself and others.
As I moved into adulthood, the worry brought with it a bunch of uncomfortable bodily sensations and ailments: headaches, tension, back pain, stomach issues, etc.
Medication helped for years, but eventually I needed more. I spoke to numerous therapists for advice. Finally, about six years ago my therapist at the time looked at me and said, “next to becoming a monk, I don’t know what else to tell you.”
I have to admit I was a bit discouraged that I somehow stumped the therapist.
About a week later while waiting for a chiropractor appointment, I noticed a young guy pull up on a bike in front of the office. It was odd to see that because the office is on a busy highway, plus he just left the bike unlocked.
The young guy strolled in with a very calm demeanor. I heard the secretary comment on how much weight he had lost.
With that, the Zen like guy (Cory Muscara) replied that he had just returned from 6 months of silence as a Buddhist in Burma where he practiced Mindfulness meditation for 14 plus hours a day.
I raised my head and thought, “Here’s my monk.”
I asked if he ever planned to teach. He said that was his ultimate goal. We exchanged numbers right away.
A few days later, I received an email asking about my interest.
I said I could start tomorrow!
My six year journey has taken me to numerous private lessons, MBSR courses, retreats, and a daily practice.
So, does mediation work for Type A people?
I venture to say it works for everyone if you make a commitment to do it for a few minutes every day.
Meditation comes in many flavors.
The three that I’ve used most are the good old sitting meditation, the body scan, and walking mediation.
Early on you learn, you don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.
This takes patience, which when in a mental storm can be frustrating. Patience is a virtue that I was lacking, but thanks to mediation, I’m getting better with it.
The beauty of meditation is you can do it anywhere and at any time by changing up the methods.
The sitting meditation has been my go to choice since the start. It’s extremely simple, but hard.
The goal is to get nowhere, because you are already there.
Your mission is to sit and watch the breath, one breath at a time. That’s it. Sit, breath, and pay attention. When the mind wanders, and it will, notice you wandered and return back to focusing on the breath.
I like the feeling of focusing on the breath coming in and out of the nostrils. This process allows the hamster wheel in your head to slow, which allows one to see the workings of the mind. This is when I can see my thoughts, which show my habits, patterns, and stories.
Early on I made the mistake of setting out with a goal of getting somewhere. I’d sit to meditate to relax or get rid of my stomach ache. However, that intention of making something go away or get better sets you on a course of “doing.”
It took years to realize the paradox of meditation. You accomplish more by doing less. Don’t force anything. If I finished the mediation and I was still anxious, I felt like I failed.
This judging mind did little but increase my tension. Now, I sit with the intention of sitting and breathing. I allow whatever to arise without judgement.
If thoughts come, I try to see them and “let go.” I try not to grasp the good ones, nor push away the bad ones. What I’ve discovered is that the relaxation and concentration arise organically by just accepting and allowing the present moment to be as it is.
There are days I choose the body scan.
While laying down or sitting in a chair, I slowly work my way through the body with my mind, while breathing in a calm and steady manner. It’s amazing to see where in your body you may be holding tension. The simple act of sitting and noticing sensations may be enough to release the knot or pain that has taken up residence in your neck or shoulder.
This method works for many who need something more dynamic than just sitting in silence.
Again, this approach should be used in a non-judgmental way, with the intention of being with yourself and your present moment experience, regardless of the outcome.
The knot may or may not go away, but “trying” to make it go away adds further suffering. In fact, I find the act of trying to make something go away makes things worse. What you resist, tends to persist. So just allow!
To change things up, I may turn to the walking meditation.
This is good if I’m especially worked up over something.
The walking meditation may be the tool that the Type A’s turn to. Here the goal is to just walk with the full awareness of the experience. Whether it’s back and forth in a straight line or in a circle, I’ll walk feeling each and every movement of the step.
The rising of the foot, the extension, and then the placement of the foot on the ground. Some will slow this down to an incredibly slow pace to challenge themselves, while others may speed things up.
As you walk and pay attention, your mind will wander. When it does, note it, and return your focus to the process and sensations of walking. Just be with your step. Chances are you walk every day, so why not walk mindfully with awareness in the present moment.
So, does meditation work?
I think so, if given the chance for a consistent period of practice.
After looking at your suggestions of a hot bath, a sauna, and laying on the floor, I believe you are meditating and its working.
Meditation can take any form. I feel the bath and sauna are similar to the sitting meditations where you allow whatever to come up without judgment.
You are being with yourself and feeling the sensations of the heat and water. The lying on the floor sounds like the body scan or the corpse pose in yoga.
Finally, the suggestion to just go for a walk with no tech is in essence walking meditation.
Regardless of what method you try, do so with the intention of just doing it. Just be. Don’t strive. Allow the present moment as it is. Don’t push away negative thoughts or cling to the good ones because “EVERYTHING CHANGES.”
By surrendering and accepting to “what is” your innate wisdom and insight begin to arise naturally.
This is when you start to see the changes you may have once tried to force.