Cat Nightengale, 129 YinD
Meditation always sounds like a good idea when I’m stressed out or feeling off, but when I sit down in a “quiet” room, I start to notice how it’s not very quiet at all. Not only am I up against the constant traffic noises, bugs and wildlife, as well as weather sounds, but my own mind always finds something better to hold onto than silence. I also have chronic back pain that makes sitting in one position for long periods of time pretty difficult.
For awhile I stubbornly struggled through it, until I found a way to make meditation work for me. At some point in my service, a friend suggested guided meditation and I turned to YouTube to tailor meditation to my specific needs. I started meditating lying down in my bed with a pillow under my knees. I chose short meditations at first with titles that peaked my interests: 10 Minute Guided Meditation to Release Anxiety, Third Eye Opening Meditation, Mindfulness Guided Meditation- 5 Minutes, etc. I love how easily accessible these guided meditations are and how I never get bored because there are endless options at my fingertips.
I like to meditate before I go to sleep. Sometimes I put on a longer guided meditation if I intend to fall asleep during it. I always sleep more deeply when I do that than when I just play soft music or fall asleep in silence. It feels more intentional, like I am telling my body, mind, and spirit what to do and how to heal itself before I let go. I always wake up feeling calm and refreshed. I also like to use meditation to help with event or social anxiety. Sometimes I put in my ear buds and listen to a short meditation before I go teach or attend a large event.
Whenever I make time to meditate for even as little as 10-20 minutes each day for a few days in a row, I notice that I am calmer, happier, and more functional than ever. The more I practice meditation, the better I get at being able to clear my mind. Meditation has improved my quality of life so much and I’m so thankful that it is one of my curiosities that I chose to pursue over the past year.
Meditation also helped me overcome my fear of dogs in Thailand. I have a school that is particularly tough. On my bike ride to that school, there is always a pack of dogs that chase me and bark furiously. One day before leaving my house, I decided to do a 20 minute meditation in preparation for facing the dogs… and the children. I was so calm that when the dogs approached me, I did something I’ve never done before. I breathed deeply and pedaled slower, not looking back or acknowledging them. To my surprise the dogs lost interest and ran away from me! What a relief! I have not had a problem with dogs here since.
Long distance relationships are really tough. Peace Corps is really tough. Long distance relationships while serving in the Peace Corps… well, that’s really, really tough. Haha. I’m thankful to have found my soul mate (even if it did happen at an inopportune time). I’m even more thankful that we both practice meditation and regularly suggest it to each other as a coping mechanism for when we are stressed.
Sometimes the hardest part of life is in the way we need to let go. We let go of places we once knew, people we loved, and even parts of ourselves that no longer serve us. I’m stronger because meditation has given me the clarity to recognize unhealthy relationships in my life and I have allowed myself to let them go. No one is perfect. We are all emotional humans who say things we don’t mean, make mistakes, and unintentionally hurt each other. However, with increased mindfulness, we can take a step back and learn not to take each other’s humanity too personally.
Guided meditation is just one of the tools I use to increase my mindfulness. If you’d like to try it, I invite you to make meditation work for you. Here are a few of my favorites on YouTube:
“Balancing Your Chakras with Healing Energy – Guided Meditation” by Great Meditation (17:57) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1TGCDSpPFE
“Guided Meditation for Deep Sleep, Create Your Destiny Hypnosis for Law of Attraction” by Jason Stephenson (2:02:24) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEd2K1FxNQY
“Heal Your Body: Spoken Guided Meditation for Pain & Sickness, Relieve Pain Naturally” by Jason Stephenson (23:26) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jD3VxSGM-k
“Body & Mind Healing Guided Meditation | The Healing Cylinder of Light” by Meditations with Rasa Lukosiute (39:00) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=db2EOeVqZGs
“Complete Chakra Cleanse & Reset | Guided Meditation” by Meditations with Rasa Lukosiute (1:06:37) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l11Js4dDbGM