For whatever reason I was born predisposed to stress and worry. From a very young age I can remember being quite fearful and spending a lot of time imaging worst case scenarios. During one season I was afraid of being kidnapped. I looked at every stranger as if they were my potential assailant. At other times I worried that I’d suddenly go deaf, blind or experience some other life-changing disability. If you can imagine it, I probably worried about it at one time or another.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve become more rational but, in some ways I’ve found new and bigger things to worry about. At times, in the past, it actually got pretty debilitating and even developed into pretty serious depression a couple of times.
I’m happy to say, through God’s love and grace, I’ve experienced a lot of healing.
Today I live with less worry and I’m so grateful! A lot has gone into my journey of recovery, including counseling, prayer, the love and encouragement of friends and family and reading some great books. But today I want to share about one tool that has been particularly helpful – meditation.
I had heard about the benefits of meditation for quite some time from counselors and in the reading I’d done. At first I was a little dubious because my impression was that meditation had its roots in eastern religious traditions and, as a Christian, that was a little unnerving to me. But after a little research I discovered that while most eastern religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, place a strong emphasis on meditation, there is actually a rich tradition of it in Christianity. In addition to that, I discovered that it can be as religious or non-religious as you want it to be.
The first time I tried it I was in the middle of a pretty grueling two-week recruiting trip and was really exhausted.
I’d been working day and night and my mind was really scattered and fragmented. I needed to de-stress and settle down. So, I decided I might as well give it a shot. I had heard that an app called Headspace provided guided meditation instructions. I downloaded it and started with their introductory session.
The first session had me focus on my breathing to help me be still, quiet, and in the present moment. It only lasted ten minutes but when I was done and opened my eyes I couldn’t believe how much better I felt! I was calm, relaxed and focused. This blew my mind! Then I realized how long it had been since I’d sat quietly without distractions!
There are lots of different forms and variations of meditation, but at its core, it is about being in the present moment.
You can meditate on a scripture, a picture, simply focus on breathing, or any number of other things. Continued practice has shown me when I quiet my mind and sit in the stillness, I begin to sense God’s presence. It is as if He’s been waiting for me to stop moving around so frantically. I feel like he’s strengthening me through these times of quiet.
Obviously, the stillness and quiet don’t always come easily. In fact, often my mind puts up quite a fight. My mind is so used to constantly thinking and worrying that it doesn’t know what to do when I’m still. This used to frustrate me. I’d try hard to push away bothersome thoughts and replace them with something peaceful or positive. At times that worked, but at other times it was just exhausting. Then I learned not to fight those thoughts but to simply acknowledge them, let them go and bring my focus back to the present moment. By doing that I get less involved with the thoughts. That has been incredibly empowering!
Honestly, I could go on and on about the benefits I’ve experienced from meditating. There’s also plenty of scientific evidence for its health benefits. Mine is just one situation but I think anyone, no matter what their circumstances, could benefit from giving it a try.
If you’re interested, there are many apps out there to guide you. The Headspace app works really well for me you might find something that works better for you. Give it a shot and see what happens.