A little over two years ago, I had an event that radically changed my life. It introduced me to a very deep depression the likes of which I never knew and thought I would never get over. To some degree I’m still struggling with that today, but I am able to handle it better than I was then. Naturally, some of that could be attributed with time. After all, it’s been two years but as I struggled with depression, for a while it seemed like things were getting worse.
I would have random anxiety attacks. A single second would feel like an eternity and I would have a very strong desire to lash out violently. I would have moments where I would relive certain events or return to certain places or hear certain voices and I would lose all sense of the now. Several times I would sleep in excess of 12 hours, and I had no appetite. I also had a strong pain in my chest, like someone was stabbing me through the heart.
I was not in a position where I could go to therapy or buy medication. Frankly, at the time I was surprisingly open to it. Since it wasn’t an option I turned to something else.
Now, there are several ways you could learn meditation. You could learn it through therapy. You could also learn it through practitioners like Buddhists. Neither of these were options for me at the time, so instead I went with what is generally considered a poor method. I read about it on the internet and applied what I read to life.
One of the first things I tried was to eradicate all thoughts. To think of nothing. In an effort to obtain this I would focus on my breathing, but as I did this I noticed something. Rather than not thinking, I was concentrating my thought on the effort of breathing in a regular pattern. I was also prone to thinking the words “not thinking”.
Despite failing in the objective I realized that I was able to find a sense of calmness. I came to a bit of realization that not thinking simply isn’t easy to do. It’s not even realistic. Thinking will happen when you meditate. I found what worked best for me wasn’t what I thought but how I approached my thoughts.
In art classes, one of the things you are taught is to step back to get a whole view of your work and to edit your approach to make the piece stronger. I decided to apply that to meditation. You don’t stop thinking, you just take a step back from your thoughts to get a better look at yourself. During this process I would allow my thoughts to flow.
Sometimes they would be words, sometimes it would be incoherent babble, and sometimes they would hover around my breathing or the sounds around me. I didn’t fight with them but I also didn’t dwell on them. In end end when I had decided I was done I would feel much more relaxed and I found myself more invigorated with life.
One of the things I’ve constantly read and heard about in regards to meditation involves self discipline. I won’t dispute this, but I will dispute the types of discipline required. Particularly in regards to frequency and time spent per day. One thing I’ve noticed from people promoting meditation was that they asked you to sit down for a given amount of time every day.
Rather than do that, I instead meditate as I feel the need. Sometimes it may be due to depression or stress. Other times it may be because I feel like relaxing and books, games, television, drawing, and exercising just aren’t doing it for me. Rather than adapt myself for meditation I have adapted meditation for me. If I’m depressed I may meditate in sessions that last several minutes. If I’m stressed but the situation requires my active attention I may meditate for a few seconds. If I don’t need to meditate, I can go a long time without even considering it.
I have found meditation to be a very positive influence on me. It’s allowed me to be open to new ideas in a way I never was in the past. It’s helped give me a sense of self and a greater appreciation for the things and friends I have. I know that when some people think of meditation they may be under the impression that it requires a detachment from yourself and the world. While this can be true it’s only true for those who practice that kind of meditation.
You don’t have to give up your attachments in life to turn meditation into a beneficial practice, you just need a desire for some form of improvement.