5 Ways That Meditation Helped Me
How 25 Days of Meditation Affected My Life
I was feeling burnt out – I started to hate my passion, my relationship was having trouble, and I was even losing my appetite. For anyone who knows me, this would basically equate to my version of depression, and I was at the bottom of the pit. After my physical conditions were taken care of (from my back pain with steroidal injections and physical therapy), I knew I had to revive my emotional stability, STAT.
My Recent Past Self and Its Consequences (2 Months Ago and Prior)
So, let’s begin with how I used to be…
Ever since I can remember, I always had eaten so much food at every meal, even after my stomach started hurting. I loved food so much, I kept overeating to the point where I got IBS and chronic acid reflux and indigestion! (So silly). Having lived in the city for several years, I was living the foodie’s dream because I would explore the best and most delicious restaurants in Manhattan. Before I was even a blogger, I would ALWAYS take photos of my food and post them on my Instagram. Bottom line: I LOVED and ate A LOT of food 24/7. Now with my back and radiating leg pain, I had lost my appetite because of how much my back problems were affecting my life and day-to-day. I was becoming unproductive because of my cloudy thoughts and thus, forgot to eat.
I used to go to the gym every day and SQUAT because I’d try to be as curvy as an Asian girl my size could be. Stemming from 9 years of competitive swimming on a club and high school swim team, I was used to burning thousands of calories a day and exercising all the time. Because of my knee problems, I had to stop swimming in college, but that didn’t stop me from working out at the NYU gym every day. I continued this stress-relieving obsession with the gym, all the way until last October of 2017, where I had to stop because of my herniated disc. For 8 months now, I hadn’t worked out one single day because of the pain my back has brought me.
I love my boyfriend so much, and I think that for the past 5 years, we have pretty much worked through almost everything we could have before the “marriage state”. After living with each other for 4 years, we have been through a lot together, and we can always tell when something’s wrong. Now, with my pain, my boyfriend has to put up a lot with my complaints and he also has to help me with a lot of simple things that hurt my back. Overtime, it has put a wear on him.
Why I Started Meditating
My life was coming to a crash. After I’ve tried everything I physically could possibly do to alleviate my pain, nothing was really quite working. The frequency of pain diminished to maybe 5 days a week, maybe I slept a little more, but sometimes the pain was still unbearable. With this inability to fully heal, my life and business that I’ve been building for many years, was eroding at my fingertips. Once I saw my pain affecting my relationship, I knew I had to act fast. Dealing with the pain myself is one thing, but once it started affecting my loved ones, it really forced me to figure out how to find some balance again. There had to be a way where I could deal with my mentality better.
Dealing with the pain myself is one thing, but once it started affecting my loved ones, it really forced me to figure out how to find some balance again.
My best friend suggested a meditation app called Headspace to me. I had previously downloaded the free version which didn’t leave me with many options, so I had deleted it thinking that it wasn’t going to help me. I was skeptical, but as soon as my friend told me it has helped her sleep, I needed to try it. I was losing all hope, and this was my last chance to help myself. I told myself, “Just try. If it doesn’t work, then delete it again.”
Low and behold, I’ve been meditating for 25 days in a row and have felt better than I ever had for the past 8 months. I am now thinking clearer and am able to deal with my anxiety much better. And here’s how meditation has exactly changed my life:
1. Coping with Chronic Pain
So as you know, I have been suffering from a herniated disc that happened out of nowhere since last October of 2017. After intensive chiropractic care, physical therapy exercises, and steroidal injections, nothing was really reducing my pain. I couldn’t figure it out. Now, I’m not too much of a spiritual person, so I was so skeptical of meditation for the longest time. However, once I ran out of options for self-healing, I finally tried out guided meditation. I was desperate for help, and if I couldn’t change or reduce my pain, I wanted to at least change my relationship with pain. I needed help accepting it, and meditation has allowed me to become less frustrated with my pain. One time, I felt my back pain while I was eating dinner at Mexicue with a friend, and then I used some of my meditation techniques that I had learned, and I swear, the pain went away for the next few hours. Meditation has taught me to better my relationship with pain by understanding that stressing about pain will worsen it. Instead, I have learned to accept the pain, acknowledge it, and move on.
I was desperate for help, and if I couldn’t change or reduce my pain, I wanted to at least change my relationship with pain.
2. Relieving Anxiety
I suffer from severe anxiety – I mean FULL ON, if I feel like I’m out of control in any sort of situation, my breath becomes short, I start crying, sweating, and feeling like the world is going to end. With meditation, I have been able to have less panic and anxiety attacks. Within the past 25 days, I found myself in control of them the two times I thought I was going to have another attack. When I felt my heart beating faster and my face getting hotter, I felt how far it was from my state of meditation and realized that it made me feel uncomfortable. Because of my recent mindful practices, I am now able to quickly recognize the onset of my symptoms and can bring myself back to a regulated state of mind.
3. Improving my Relationship
As mentioned above, my boyfriend was getting exhausted from the complaints from my pain and the amount of work he needed to help me with. I could no longer bend to pick up stuff from the floor or pack my bags without pain, so he needed to help me with virtually everything. He was getting so tired and eventually, very frustrated.
By meditating, I have been able to take steps to self-improvement and quality of life. My complaints are fewer, and I have found myself being able to do more things independently.
Additionally, being at peace with myself has allowed me to appreciate the good times with him a lot more and be grateful for everything he does for me on a daily basis. Coming home to him is more de-stressing than it ever was before. I adore him more and every time I see him now, I look at him with a loving heart.
With all the chronic pain, it was so difficult to focus on my work, go to photoshoots, and even sleep. It was normal to wake up late in the afternoon because I wouldn’t go to bed till 7AM. Thus, I kicked myself into feeling guilty about being productive because I thought I couldn’t be. It was a vicious cycle and most of it was construed with mind tricks that made me feel worse about waking up late.
Meditation has taught me to be patient and most importantly, has allowed me to speak more positively about myself. There are less negative thoughts that enter my mind when I cannot sleep and wake up late. I instead seize the moments when I am awake, and am more grateful for the precious time I have left in the day. I am now on my way to focusing on my blog again.
Meditation has taught me to be patient and most importantly, has allowed me to speak more positively about myself.
5. Improving My Sleep
I’ve struggled with insomnia ever since I was little. As a self-made woman with busy thoughts, there are ideas that consistently run through my mind – how to grow my business, what events I have to attend the next day, to which brand campaigns I need to shoot and complete. While these are all healthy thoughts, they would always come forward when I’m trying to go to sleep.
Because I never made time for myself to breathe throughout the day, my scurried thoughts would obnoxiously start when I hit the bed, which in turn, made my mind race and prevent me from relaxing. With meditation, I am beginning to train my mind to focus on my thoughts only when I NEED to be thinking during the day, and I am now focusing on sleep when I need to be sleeping. It’s a miracle.
As you can see, meditation has improved my lifestyle even with just 25 days of practicing. But, just as a precaution, please know to NOT expect MIRACLES to happen overnight. Some days, it doesn’t work, but most of the time, I feel that it does. It also takes awhile to learn how to be still and focused just for 3 minutes a day, but eventually with practice, you’ll see that you can stretch it to a focused 10-15 minutes a day.
With that said, I encourage you to join me in being more mindful of your stress levels and worries that you could forget about. If you feel a bit lost, frustrated, stressed, or just want to focus better on your tasks, I invite you to try Headspace.
I hope this post has encouraged you to start thinking about living your life more peacefully and happily.
Until next time!