2016 was a crazy year. Even though most of it was positive, there was so much movement, change and instability that it took a serious toll on my sleep. I had sleep issues for a while, but it got worse last year, and I would wake up every day feeling more exhausted than I was the night before. I had nightmares almost every night. I’d wake up with sweating, panting and disoriented in the middle of the night, or I would have nightmare after nightmare that I couldn’t wake myself up from. Even though I would make sure to give myself 8 hours of sleep, the lack of restful sleep began to catch up with me. The lack of energy affected my ability to focus and exercise consistently, which would then affect my mood and stress management. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t get out of. These compounded and began to affect my relationships and experiences. I needed to find a solution and meditation was a recurring topic in my research for better sleep. It came to a breaking point where I was sick too often and lethargic every day. Something had to change.
I read a lot about the benefits of meditation but hadn’t tried it long enough to see the results myself. The few times where I had meditated, I felt a bit better and my mind felt calmer. But I hadn’t been consistent enough to see the long-term results on my sleep, so I would quickly give up. Some nights I was just too tired to make myself sit and meditate for a few minutes. Other nights I just didn’t feel like it and just wanted to sit in front of the TV and tune out. But then I told myself “No more excuses” and I committed to meditate just for 10-15 minutes, every evening, for 30 days. It takes 21 days to create a new habit, and after doing some research, I downloaded the Calm app for guided meditation to help me through the process. So there I was, phone in hand, with my new app; I set off on my journey for meditation.
It has now been more than 30 days since I started my meditation practice, it has become something that I crave. It’s like the gym, when you push through the initial discomfort and skepticism of seeing results, you get in a cycle where your body and mind feel the positive effects and it wants more of it.
Now, when I start feeling anxious or overwhelmed, my instinct is to use my deep-breathing exercises that immediately help me calm down. At night, I can’t go to bed without clearing my mind by meditating for 10-15 minutes, because that’s all it really takes to calm your brain. Although my sleep isn’t perfect yet and I still have some mental work to do to figure out why I have nightmares, at least I have some restful nights and I’m not a zombie anymore.
I’ve noticed a change at the physiological level. When you tune into your body, you notice the immediate effects of taking a few deep breaths: the muscles in your chest and abdomen get released and the beat of your heart begins to slow down. I notice an impact on my state of mind as well – during the day, if I feel like I am getting overwhelmed or that my thoughts are spirally out of control, I take 2-3 minutes to just stop and take a few deep inhales to clear my mind, and I am then able to approach the situation in a calm and rational fashion.
I could go and on about my experience and how positive it has been, but really, until you try it for yourself, you won’t truly understand what I’m talking about. Let me know if you have any questions or need any tips on meditation itself! I’d love to share more with you.
Have you tried meditation? Do you like it? What’s holding you back from trying? Share your thoughts and advice in the comment section below or through social media, @Seppyforlove! I’d love to hear from you!