A couple of weeks ago I read an article on Yahoo! News that gave me pause for thought. Dan Harris, an ABC News Anchor, shared a part of his life seen by millions around the world. During a live broadcast, Harris had a debilitating panic attack. Unable to finish his spot, he turned it back to Diane Sawyer. Harris couldn’t breathe and was as surprised as anyone when this occurrence happened. He took a good look at his life to research reasons for the attack and discovered he had three very problematic areas. One was his frenzied attempt to rise to the top, another was reporting from Iraq, and the third taking occasional recreational drugs on the weekend. He was very stressed. When he saw a psychiatrist the doctor told him the attack was most likely provoked by the drugs.
Mr. Harris sought to find healing. He tried everything and nothing worked. Meditation was suggested and, desperate, he decided to give it a try.
Mr. Harris’ idea of meditation was sitar music and chanting, but he knew he had antiquated ideas about the subject, a throwback to the era of the 60’s and 70’s. He thought the idea might be a little crazy, however, he went to a class. As he learned to breathe he found peace. Harris says the trick is to learn the breathing process to keep stress at a lower level.
Once he learned to meditate, Harris made it a daily habit, spending between 1-2 hours a day. He slowed down his life, looked around at things he had never noticed before; as his brain slowed down, and his work improved, he slept better, and quit worrying. As Mr. Harris found answers in meditation he wrote a book entitled 10% Happier. You can watch a video of Dan Harris’ breakdown here as he explains his experience and how he turned to meditation.
Though his earlier thoughts about meditation took a while to change, Harris overcame those preconceptions and learned to reap the benefits of meditation and relaxation.
I had much the same feeling when asked to try meditation as part of my therapy for Bipolar Disorder. Although I had many of the same thoughts Mr. Harris did, I do know the quietness of prayer, so thought I could try it and decide then.
A free 21-day meditation from Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey was offered on the Chopra website. I signed up, and from the first day I experienced relaxation, but it took a few months to learn to get quiet and kick the “mind monkeys” out of my head. Mind monkeys are all the thoughts that creep inside while you try to stay focused and relaxed. You’ll always have thoughts that come and go, but with practice you can ignore them.
That meditation ended and there was a break before the Mentors Channel started with a 21-day Meditation, each session taught by different experts on the subject. When that program ended, I haunted YouTube for “guided meditation”. Between the 21-Day classes I use YouTube and find many wonderful guided meditations. My favorites on YouTube are those by ‘The Honest Guys.” You can search and find many uplifting and relaxing meditations from them, as well as those presented by other teachers. I prefer to have my eyes closed during meditation, although the experts say it doesn’t matter. Meditation is your time and you should do it whenever and however you’re most comfortable.
I look for 10-30 minute meditations in the morning. I get up early, make coffee, walk the dog, and meditate. When I’m through I feel calm and ready to start my day. I did this for several months when I had a couple of anxiety attacks and my therapist recommended I try doing an additional meditation at night. Another 21-day Mentors Channel class started. Instead of listening to a guided meditation, a duo sang meditations. The name of the artists are are Deva Premal and Miten. Deva has one of the loveliest voices I’ve ever heard. She and Miten record together, but there are many earlier albums by Deva alone. I now do one of these recordings before bedtime to relax. Some of these are available on YouTube, (search for Deva Primal or Deva and Miten) but I’ve been buying songs one at a time on the iTunes store. Here is a sample recording.
Doing two meditations a day worked well until I had a mood swing that drained me. My therapist suggested I meditate four times a day until I felt better. I did this by not changing my morning and evening meditations, but by adding a prayer here and there, listening to a 5-minute meditation, or sitting quietly for 5 minutes. I’m still doing this because I have been in a severe depression for a couple of weeks. I know it will change though. The meditation helps as I breathe deeply and relax.
I’ve learned is that there is no right or wrong way to meditate. I prefer guided meditations, as they seem to help me relax more, but there are scores of recordings that are just music. Some tell you to watch the images on the screen but my mind wanders too much when I do that. I prefer to close my eyes, listen, and feel the peace and relaxation through my body. You’ll find what works best for you.
Have you ever tried meditation? Would you? What are your thoughts on the subject?
Below are some links you might find helpful if you decide to try it. I know you’ll reap benefits.
The following video on YouTube is short and explains the benefits of meditation.
My favorite meditations come from The Honest Guys on YouTube. Here are two examples.
Books by L.Leander:
You can also find L.Leander here: