The Best Self Care Tool I Know
This past year has been challenging for everyone. Between health and economic uncertainty on one hand, and social isolation, increased tribalism, and much personal loss on the other, we have all been faced with incredible stress. I know that the past year would have been a lot harder had I not made it a priority to meditate regularly.
I have played around with meditation for years, but have never really given it the attention it deserves until last year. I first heard of meditation in my 20s, when I was young and impatient. It seemed dull and boring to energetic younger self; maybe I would do it some time when life wasn't so exciting. Fast forward 20 years and I was assigned mediation as homework when I went back to finish my Bachelor's degree. Two different classes made a point of focusing on this work, and I learned about the science and art that is mindfulness. The accountability of college was a good structure for me, and I finally made a regular practice of it. It was life changing. I found myself less reactive, more patient, and more grounded. But after the classes were done, I found my habit quickly fading from my days.
Last year, when the pandemic hit, I had to close my massage practice. I had no idea how I was going to pay the bills, whether people I loved would be harmed by the virus, or what the future held. I was anxious and had too much time on my hands. I started running, and that helped some, but it didn't make as much a difference as I needed.
I decided to make time to take care of my nervous system. I started with breathwork, counting different rhythms to pace myself which made a tangible difference to my heart rate and my blood pressure. This was intriguing, and I wanted more. I started playing around with different sorts of mindfulness, from breath and body awareness, to guided imagery, to lovingkindness meditation. The effects started to emerge, and I began to find myself feeling better, despite the continued craziness and unpredictability of the external world. Eventually, a dear friend challenged me to a daily check-in practice. We both were using an app called Insight Timer and we vowed to meditate every day and send each other screenshots to show we had kept our word. The daily practice was what I needed. Now I miss it when I don't make the time. Which is rare, because 3 minutes is enough to make a real change in my body. Longer is better, but not always possible. It is pretty much always possible to fit in 3 minutes, though. And the rewards are many. I will write another post to dive into that, but I want to share a video that gives a great overview on why meditation is worth making time for in your life. And you have got 3 minutes, don't you?