Recently my family suffered the tragic loss of my father-in-law. Although he was sick, we were expecting more time with him. His death not only opened a huge hole in my heart, but it also made unresolved losses and trauma from the past resurface. This left me in a severe depression and with the most uncontrollable anxiety I had ever experienced.
My life began to unravel and spin out of control. But I had a baby to take care of, a child in college, one in middle school, a partner that needed my attention, a house to clean, pets to care for, a job to go to, a best friend with breast cancer, and bills to pay. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. I tried to hold on as tight as I could to maintain a sense of control. When you’re in the middle of chaos, sometimes you don’t know where to begin to regain that control. It’s times like this, when one is in crisis, you stop and just meet your most basic needs and… JUST BREATHE
As a culture we have forgotten how to breathe. In our fast-paced life full of soccer practice, smart phones, laundry, groceries, vet appoints, work, and other odds and ends we jam into our calendars; we tend to treat life as a marathon, rather than enjoying the beautiful gift it is.
Things in my life began to spin out of control over year ago. I began to notice basic everyday things becoming overwhelming. This was really evident when I had to go back to work after the birth of my youngest my son. With the overwhelming guilt of leaving my precious baby with strangers, completing an 8-10 hour shift in a job I didn’t like, spending an hour and a half commuting, caring for the rest of my family and pets, and cleaning the house; it was all too much. I felt as though I was floating in a large ocean with no life preserver. For a while I was doing ok staying afloat. Over the course of time, my body became tired and I struggled to stay above water. Every day I begged and pleaded with myself just to get through that day. Giving myself pep talks to get through the next activity or challenge that needed to be completed. But one day I went under water.
I remember lying in bed and telling myself the only thing I HAD to do in that moment was breathe. I got through 5 minutes. Those 5 minutes turned into an hour, which turned into a day, and then I made it through the night. The next day I was able to get out of bed, make breakfast, then lunch, and dinner. The days that followed got better and better. The only thing I focused on was breathing. I could not worry about getting to the grocery store, I didn’t need to cleaned the bathroom or do the dishes, I just breathed. Eventually things got easier and I used other tools, counseling, and supplements to assist in regaining my health and wellbeing.
I began meditating regularly. Throughout my life, I meditated and knew of the benefits it provided. But like so many others, I struggled to make it apart of my every day routine and found it difficult to settle my mind. I decided it was very important to me to connect to my spirit, a higher power, and myself. I made the commitment to meditate everyday for one month. I’m now 3 months into meditating every day for up to an hour or more. I took things slow and allowed my self to “mess up” and tried not rush the process. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to meditate. Find what resonates and works for you, and just simply start by breathing.
Here are some of the things I did to create a meditation routine.
- Start by taking deep breaths. Breathe in a full breath deep into your belly, filling your lungs and allow your abdomen to expand. Hold the breath for a count 3 then slowly allowed the release to count of 5. Do this 3-5 times in a row, several times throughout the day.
- For 5 minutes a day, twice a day, close your eyes and do the breathing technique in Step 1. You may want to play soft relaxing music, hold a stone or crystal in you hand, or something that helps you focus or connect to your higher power. As you practice your breathing techniques focus on that object you are holding. If you do not have an object, just focus on your breath. You may find you mind wandering, just simply bring your focus back to the object or your breath. After practicing this for a week, increase your time by 3-5 minute intervals as you progress. You can set an alarm or use an app (there are many mediation apps you can download) to keep track of your time. As you practice you will find you mind more focused and wandering less.
- Use resources to help. I found guided meditation helpful in keeping my mind focused. The more I practiced the easier it got. There are many guided meditations on Youtube, meditation apps, or you can purchase CDs online, at books or music stores. You can search by topics, so if there is something specific you want to work on; there is a guided meditation for it. I recommend using headphones for the best results.
- Practice, Practice, Practice!!!! The more you meditate and do breath work, the easier it becomes. It’s like any new skill, it takes some practice, but the more effort you put in, the more you get out.
- Create a sacred space just for you. This could be a corner of a room, a closet, a windowsill, or your favorite chair. When you are in this space, know you are safe. Put things here that make you feel connected to your spirit, your higher power, the earth, or things that make you feel loved. Use incense, candles, or essential oils to create uplifting scents.
- Keep a journal of your meditations. I have learned so much about myself from journaling, especially after I meditate. I am able to think clearly and calmly, and reflect on my circumstances. It’s in this space you are able to make the best decision and choices for yourself.
I believe that when you’re at the point where things are so out of control the only thing you can do surrender and let go, that’s when the healing can begin. Space is made for new thing to manifest. What is no longer needed is discarded, and new opportunities present themselves. That is exactly what happened to me. I began to heal and worked through old wounds. I discovered a new path in life, and remembered how important it is to take care of me! It’s not only important to take care of your physical needs, but you emotional, mental and spiritual needs as well. Take the time to do the same for yourself, now matter what your circumstances are. Do it without guilt and do it regularly. Especially if you have others that rely upon you to take care of them. Be kind to yourself, practice self-love, and just breathe….