Finding peace on the yoga mat or meditation cushion is wonderful. But as Sarah Booth reminds us in this week’s installment of the Share My Path project, finding peace in the everyday is just as important and rewarding.
Sarah’s path: written in her own words:
It was a difficult time in my life. Anxiety was ever-present, sometimes cascading into panic attacks, and I was embarrassed about not being able to cope so I kept it to myself and continued with normal life as best I could.
Eventually I was brave or desperate enough to book an appointment with my doctor. She told me there was a long waiting list for therapy, and since I refused to take medication, she wrote down the name of a book about CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I placed the little slip of paper into my pocket and headed for the bookstore, almost certain that I would have to resort to Amazon.com instead.
I found the self-help section and to my surprise, the book she had recommended was actually there! But something drew me instead to the book next to it, a book entitled, Calming your Anxious Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You from Anxiety, Fear and Panic. I flicked through this new book and felt compelled to buy it; I left the CBT book on the shelf.
I had never heard of mindfulness before so everything in the book was brand new to me. I remember one of the first things the writers suggested was to pay attention to your body’s sensations when doing everyday things, like brushing your teeth. I was extremely skeptical, but the next time I brushed my teeth, I focused on what it felt like, and oh my god! It was incredible. I couldn’t believe I had been missing out on this mind-blowing experience twice a day for my whole life, just by always thinking about something else.
Swimming became my real life saver. I had always used swimming as a time to think; now it became a time to empty my mind and focus on the experience of swimming. Twenty strokes in, and I could feel the brain waves change in my head, as I entered into that beautiful meditative state.
My anxiety lessened and lessened and I had no more panic attacks. After about a year of bringing mindfulness into my everyday life, I began to practice sitting meditations and started attending regular meditation and yoga classes.
I can’t imagine my life without meditation now. Though I must say, I had forgotten about the “amazingness” of teeth-brushing until I remembered back and wrote this story. It’s so painfully easy to skim over life in a rush and a scribble of thoughts.
This is week four of the Share My Path project. There are enough participants for another three weeks, which leaves me quite shy of the 52 participants I’d originally hoped for. If you’re enjoying these pieces and recognize how they may be of aid to others I graciously ask that you participate.
Share My Path is an archival experiment seeking to build a repository of the paths taken by practitioners of meditation and is hosted here at elephant journal. If you’d like to have your path featured and made part of the archive please e-mail or find us here for more information. Your time will be rewarded in knowing you’ve shared with others and perhaps helped someone find their path.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel