Meditation and Mindfulness

Restorative Niches

It’s safe to say that meditation has greatly improved my life mentally, physically and spiritually. I have been meditating every day for over a year and a half now, starting when I began having anxiety attacks and was at a loss on what to do to try and get back to a healthy state of mind and body. At that point, I would have tried anything because I knew I couldn’t live in a constant state of fear and worry. I had heard of meditation and the benefits of it but had never tried it before. I started off slow, meditating for 5 minutes at a time. I was surprised at how hard it was to sit still and just breathe but when your body is in a constant state of “fight or flight”, sitting still can seem very difficult.

Gradually, as I increased my meditation time from five to ten and then to twenty minutes, I could feel the benefits increase over time as well. Taking those deep breaths, calmed my nerves, stilled my mind and allowed something inside of me that I hadn’t experienced before: time and space. Time and space to face my fears, fears I didn’t even know I had. It allowed me to release suppressed anger and resentment that I had pushed down for so long. I can’t tell you how many times I have cried while meditating, actually, it happens most of the time. I have learned that I suppress my emotions deep down inside of me, never to see the light of day, for fear that those emotions are “bad.” I have learned that we are meant to feel ALL our emotions, even anger. Anger can be useful to us if used in the right way.

I am a highly-sensitive introvert who has become quite honestly burned out by giving so much energy and empathy to other people. Meditation allows me to take back some of my power and practice self-care on a level I haven’t implemented before. It grounds me before facing my day, interacting with my extroverted work-place and makes me realize what my own desires and wants are. Meditation has opened an entirely new world of hopes and dreams that have always been there inside of me, but that I wouldn’t or couldn’t allow myself to explore; not until I breathed out fear and breathed in love. It lets me see a future that is much more different than before, full of possibilities and hope! Meditation has helped me to understand that I not only desire to change careers but that I can do so. It has helped me to understand what I want to do with my life and what my future could be.

I see beauty in the world and in my life when there is silence. This is when I am able to be thankful for what I have and not to wish away the present moment. Meditation reminds me to live in the present moment, which is all I have. My anxiety comes from thinking about past mistakes or for fear of what the future might hold. One day, I may look back on this very moment right now and wish for this time in my life to come again. I try not to become fixated only upon the future, this deprives me of joy and peace that is available right here and right now. At times, it is easier said than done.

As a recovering perfectionist, I have been forced to learn that self-care isn’t always all or nothing. It’s about finding “restorative niches” during my day to meditate when I can. Sometimes, all I have is 5 minutes to take some deep breathes and move on with my day, and that’s okay. When I first began meditating, I thought I had to create this perfect environment to meditate effectively. I thought I had to meditate at the same time every single day for 20 minutes, I had to be in my closet with my headphones on and listening to a specific song. Those high expectations alone are going to create some anxiety! I have found out that I can meditate anywhere and anytime. I can practice mindfulness in the bathroom at work, in my car while running errands, even while at the grocery store waiting in line! Taking deep breaths, in and out, and focusing on moving that breathe all the way down to my toes, grounding me to the Earth. I have learned that I can stop my inner-critic in its place and redirect my thoughts to ones that are more positive. I now have the mindfulness to recognize my negative thought patterns which allows me to have control over what I tell myself, about myself. It is a conscious effort and I have had to be vigilant, but it has literally changed the way I view myself and my life. Friends, be kind and gentle to yourself.

The benefits of meditation do not stop when we stop meditating. These benefits continue to live outside of that specific moment in time. Meditation allows us to stop and see a zoomed-out view of our lives. It lets us be thankful for where we are right now and the lessons that we are learning. It allows us to pause and make positive pivots where needed. You have the power to make radical changes in your life where they are needed. Only you can decide that for yourself and meditation is a good place to start.

Bethany Beahm

Bethany enjoys yoga, meditation and anything related to personal development. Her passion is living a balanced, meaningful and tranquil life. You can find her blog at RestorativeNiches.com where she talks about her experiences in hopes to inspire others to practice self-care.

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