Friday, October 11, 2013

Healthy Living: Meditation

Health (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)
I love my puppy. I love her as much as I could love any human baby. But that doesn't stop her from driving me insane.

Puppies are great until they pee on the carpet, start chewing on your shoes, and take out their teething pains on your hands and toes instead of their toys. That's when you want your puppy in a diaper suspended from the ceiling so you can take a worry free nap.

If you don't have a puppy I'm sure there are things in your life that stress you out. Maybe you even know some people who should be suspended from the ceiling. Your boss? Your kids? Health problems, money problems, and money problems because of your health problems all add up to frazzled nerves.

Stress Is Bad

We know stress is bad. No one has to shove scientific evidence in our face because we know how lousy it feels to be stressed. But it's more difficult to de-stress than to get stressed. Who has time to de-stress when there are things to stress about? We can't take vacations all the time. And I'm allergic to bubble baths so that's out of the question. How do we de-stress in this crazy world?


When I worked in a fast-paced minimum wage job an extra 30 seconds on what you're doing could mean 10 grumpy customers. It was that environment that made my struggle with cognitive dysfunction futile. Often, my job looked as hopeless as this:

The line behind my customer was getting longer. Families were impatiently waiting to order food. Little kids ran around tripping distracted people trying to balance their food and drinks in their arms. Anxiety was setting in as the crowd realized they might miss their movie or the beloved previews. I started to get the customer's beverage.
Me:"What would you like to drink?"
Customer: "Coke"
"Regular or Diet?" The next person in line sighed and rolled their eyes. The movie they're seeing came out that day so they've been waiting in line for a while and they have 7 minutes until the previews end.
I walk to the soda machine and fill the cup halfway with ice.
"Did you say regular or diet?" The people in line are ready to kill someone.
"Actually, I'll have fruit punch instead." The customers castrate this person with their eyes, wishing him all sorts of holy hell. Worried that I'll be their next victim, I don't realize I forgot to give my customer his popcorn. And his change.

Work wasn't the only place I'd forget things or struggle to find my words. Did I mention the comprehension problems? Sometimes sounds reached my ears after pushing through a layer of invisible jello. My tongue had a mind of its own and would garble my words. The dissolution of my brain was unbearable.
Meditation (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)
Like I do with any substantial health problem, I asked my doctor what I could do to make it go away. He suggested meditation along with cognitive therapy. I never got around to the therapy, but I did meditate more. The difference was striking.

How To Meditate

I copy the methods that Buddhists use. I figure if they've mastered the practice of meditation for thousands of years, they probably have some inkling of how to do it right. 

My favorite meditation exercise is simple. You fixate on your breathing. All your mind power goes to listening to the sound of your breath and experiencing how breathing feels. Have you ever sat and focused on how breathing feels? It's not something you think about that often.

While you're breathing focus on releasing the tension you hold in your body. Keep your mental spotlight on your breath. If you notice yourself thinking of other things concentrate on the sensation of breathing. In the beginning your mind will drift. That's okay. It's okay to be imperfect. Just bring your attention back to where it should be.


I've made some lists on StumbleUpon that you might find useful if you're undertaking this Living Experiment with me. I'll leave the links below. Feel free to follow the lists you enjoy so you can stay up to date on the fun stuff I find.

Do you have any favorite meditation practices?

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