I never thought I would become someone who meditated.
I will admit that prior to discovering meditation, I had no real idea what it was and looked a little strangely at people who said they practiced it. It seemed silly to me—a waste of good TV time.
Why are you just sitting there? How on earth is that helping you do anything? I don’t get it. If you are tired, just take a nap. That seems hard. That seems pointless.
Oh how wrong I was!
A few years ago, my path to faith led me to Buddhism. I was so enthralled, intrigued and fascinated by everything I was reading and discovering about my new path that I devoured every article and publication that I came across. Obviously this meant I was going to need to figure out what this meditation thing was all about, but I was intimidated.
Everything I was reading painted a very different picture of this practice than I had ever known about it previously. It was no longer some strange reason to sit quietly, but a new way to finding my own mind.
How was this possible?
I began my initiation into meditation slowly. I would find small chunks of time here and there to sit quietly and clear my mind. My spare time was often on my lunch breaks, in my car, before I sat down to watch TV when I got home from work, or after dinner. It wasn’t easy. I was learning on my own from scratch. Add to that my very busy mind. I like to compare it to a constantly running TV with a brick on the remote control’s channel button. It’s just scrolling over and over again through all the channels. All day, all night.
I followed the instructions based on what I read and sat still, closed my eyes and concentrated only on my breathing. The pattern of the in and out of my breath. I felt it slow down. I felt my heart beat slow down. Unbeknownst to me, my blood pressure was also slowing down.
It felt so incredibly good. My nerves would calm and that television in my head was still running, but it seemed that brick had fallen on the mute button somehow because it was much quieter now in my head. When I would close my eyes and sit still, I would feel the tension leave my neck. I would feel my usual anxiety back away. Something was welling up inside of me—starting in my chest and spreading to my brain. It seemed to be taking the path of my blood vessels, my bones and my nerves. It was peace. The feeling of peace was washing over me.
After a couple of weeks of actively making it a part of my every day, I got hooked.
To my own surprise, I also got healthier. I found that without that ever pressing tension, I felt better. I was able to move around more freely. I also found that I was sleeping better. The television in my mind had stopped scrolling through the channels. It was now back under my control. This threw me for a loop because while I was simply looking for a way to connect with myself, I was finding a way to connect with everything and it was changing me. I was addicted in the best way possible.
But then I had a baby.
She is my second child, but there is a ten year age gap between my two kids. My son was six years-old when I started practicing meditation, so finding a quiet moment was not too hard. He is a pretty independent kid, even now at 11 years-old. I could sit cross legged in front of Buddha and find that solitude that I needed while he was playing by himself, at school or at his dad’s house. I had no idea then that I would eventually remarry and have another child or how that would impact my practice.
While I was pregnant, we fell on some hard times. Health, finances and a high risk pregnancy all contributed to my excuses for my lack of meditation through that time.
None of those excuses were good enough and I should have kept up that practice at a time when I probably needed it more than any! I was dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety and was having a hard time finding a quiet moment so I just stopped looking for them. This was the wrong thing to do. The brick had fallen back on the remote in my mind and that television was back to its old tricks of scrolling all day and all night through all the channels. I was not sleeping well.
When my gorgeous little girl was born—as is usually the case for new moms—the first few weeks were tough. They were wonderful, but tough. The lack of sleep, physical recovery from a c-section and caring for this new human life had my mind tangled into mess and I knew then that I needed meditation back in my life. I was also on my way back to work soon full-time and I knew that would do a number on my soul being away from my little baby.
I decided to try and find a few minutes each day to meditate. It was hard at first as the quiet moments I got were usually reserved for sleeping. I was determined though, so I went back to my early methods that got me started. I would look for ten minutes here and there to sit quietly and clear my mind. I would do it when baby girl was napping. I would do it after she had fallen asleep. It took me a while to get back into it and I am still now trying to find a pattern again.
Being back at work, I am again finding those quiet moments on my lunch break or sitting at my desk when it’s slow. I am a work in progress but I can report that it is in fact working. The change in myself has been amazing, even after this short time back in the saddle. I am finding my anxiety backing away and the impact that even these small meditations have had on treating my postpartum depression has been incredible. Meditating doesn’t cure all my ills. It simply helps me better navigate them. This can do wonders for us all as new parents.
Author: Amanda Hornick
Editor: Caitlin Oriel