I began adding meditation into my nightly routine about a year ago. Back then I didn’t truly understand it and it was incredibly hard for me. “Start with just 30 seconds and go from there,” they said. “Let your mind go blank.”
30 seconds, I thought. I can do anything for 30 seconds. It turns out, 30 seconds of meditation was impossible for me. I tried not to think about anything. I tried to put my mind at complete silence, but failed, so I gave up. Meditation just isn’t for me, I thought.
Then began the panic attacks. They started off maybe once a month and after 6 or 7 months it became weekly. Weekly turned into not sleeping for days at a time. Just as I was about to fall asleep, I would shoot back up again in bed, barely able to catch my breath. My heart was pounding out of my chest and my body shaking.
I went to the doctor and she told me that the panic attacks stem from my mind not being able to succumb to sleep. That I had so much running through my mind at night, it didn’t know how to stop. She put me on anxiety medication. It took about a week, but the panic attacks began to lessen and eventually they disappeared. It took about 3 months to get the dosage just right where I wasn’t falling asleep in my chair during the day or feeling nauseous.
I hated it, taking a pill every day. It wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to make a lifelong commitment to a pill. I didn’t want to rely on a pill to fix me. I wanted to fix myself. My Dr. recommended I introduce some sort of relaxation into my nightly routine using an app, so I downloaded Calm.
First I started out with their adult sleep stories. I focused hard on making sure to follow along instead of being interrupted by my own thoughts. It was hard at first. If I caught myself being distracted, I would quickly refocus. After a few nights, I found myself falling asleep before the stories were even over. Now, I alternate between nightly sleep stories and meditation.
Those 30 minutes before bedtime have become my solace. During that time I wash away the day’s stress. I forget about what I have to do tomorrow and lie still. I check in with myself and what really matters — me. It wasn’t easy. I am always going a hundred miles an hour. Taking time for myself was always on the backburner, but for my well-being and truthfully, the sanity of others, it was time.
We deal with so much pressure on a daily basis. We’re constantly judging ourselves, climbing on our pedestals and falling off them. Who we’re suppose to be and what we’re supposed to do is constantly hanging over our heads. All of that took it’s toll on me. So much was being thrown at me and I didn’t have the right tools to handle it.
Meditation has given me those tools to take control of it all. To reevaluate my priorities and to truly understand the power of the mind and the healing ability of a single breath. We cannot carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. We have to learn to let go. To inhale the positive and exhale the negative.
It’s been 3 months without medication. 3 months with daily meditation. I haven’t had a single panic attack. A direct result, I believe, of slowing down, showing up for myself and saying, I’m here.