In 1998 I was diagnosed with a debilitating condition that among other things, was aggravated by stress.
At that time, I was ending a difficult marriage, becoming a single parent and looking for employment avenues as my career as a classroom teacher, which I had done for 15 years, was no longer an option.
Never having been an advocate for chemical alternatives, legal or otherwise, I began my search to find
Sitting in an upright seated position, cross-legged on the floor (a position I have struggled with since pre-puberty), maintaining a straight, yet relaxed spine, with eyes closed focusing on nothingness, was my first introduction to Meditation.
My first reaction was “Yeh Right!”
I was anything but relaxed. My feet tingling and my legs became numb from lack of circulation in the cross-legged position. My lower back ached, begging for some sort of support. With the physical discomfort I was being asked to endure, there was no way I was able to attain a mind set of nothingness. All I could focus on was, please make this torture stop.
I turned my yoga mat in for running shoes and I took up a regular exercise program at the gym. One day while listening to my favorite tunes, running rhythmically on the elliptical machine, it hit me. I had been working out for nearly 45 minutes and had paid no attention to the time. I had had no particular thoughts running through my mind, no interruptions, no notice of the music that was playing……
I was in A ZONE.
It was like I had embarked on a journey to another planet never having remembered taking off or returning.
I just was !!!
Months passed and although I found my workouts at the gym very therapeutic and useful in reducing the stress in my life, I also found that there were times when I could have used a good workout to calm an explosive response while engaging in a frustrating conversation, reduce anxiety and apprehension on my way to the specialist, assist with the abdominal pain I experienced that accompanied the cramping or help me fall asleep at night. Finding an elliptical, treadmill, rowing machine or cycle outside of the gym setting is extremely difficult.
I had read that breathing techniques were very helpful in calming and centering a person. I found a great U-Tube presentation on Pranayamic Breath and started to incorporate the techniques I learned into my regime for a stress free lifestyle.
Over the last 18 years I have read, researched, trained and practiced many different forms of “Meditation/Mindfulness”. Visualization, Sound, Breath, Mantra, Chanting, Movement, Malas, Affirmations, Guided are but a few strategies I have used and incorporated into my daily lifestyle, others I use once in a while and like my yoga mat, still others I have discarded completely.
The greatest knowledge I have gathered over this time is that
Meditation is definitely far from a ONE SIZE FITS ALL.