On World Mental Health Day, I thought I would share my story about how meditation helped me with my mental health issues.
When our physical body get sick, we try to fix it. We can try a western medicine approach: take a few pills and wait for the symptoms to disappear. Or we believe in a more holistic approach when all physical symptoms are a mere reflection of a dis-ease in our mind/ emotion/ body /soul connection. Then, not only are we trying to treat the symptoms but also the causes of the problem. We will also try to keep our body/ mind healthy and in balance to prevent ‘getting sick’ again. All diseases have something to teach us if we dare to look inside ourselves at what is really causing our suffering.
With mental health, the issues are harder to diagnose as we do not have any physical symptoms; we are sick ‘inside’. Again we have the choice of trying to fix the problem with a few pills and while it may help us to feel better and relieved while we are on medication, it often does not remove the problem. Healing the mind/ emotion is a far more complex healing journey than it may appear.
How can meditation help?
I started meditation when I was 23. I didn`t know anything about meditation or know anyone who was practicing it. I`d heard and read about it and strongly felt it could help me. I had never been diagnosed with any mental health issues before as I had never seen or told anyone about how I was feeling ‘inside’. Yet looking back I was far from being ‘as well as I appeared to be’. I grew up very shy and introverted, with very low self-esteem,getting sick a lot, got through my teenage years with ‘low mood’ and ‘dark thoughts’ always running through my head. Maybe I was just feeling lost, maybe I was looking for myself, maybe I was depressed. I was also very anxious, stressed and was experiencing panic attacks on a regular basis. And I also had some mild form of OCD ( how many times did I have to check my pocket to make sure I hadn`t forgotten my keys!!!). But because I was doing very well at school and then at uni and always been told that I was ‘ intelligent’; I didn`t know if what I was experiencing was normal or not. For me it was normal anyway, that is all I knew then. Leaving my country at 22 for a one year holiday in Australia was supposed to be life changing. I hoped it would change me anyway, change how I felt inside. Although, even if I did escape my physical conditions, what I thought made me unhappy, I couldn`t escape myself. Inside it was still the same: a busy, scared, worried, unhappy mind.
I can`t remember the first time I heard about meditation, but I remember the first time I tried to do it. Not much of a success I can tell you. I didn`t stay sitting for long. But for the first time I totally become aware of how BUSY and full of nonsense my thoughts were! And if meditation could help me with that then I would give it a chance. So I started practicing daily , and slowly I started noticing some improvements. First I could manage my thoughts a bit better, then control them, then change them, then stop them altogether . That first moment when I experienced pure emptiness of thought felt incredibly amazing. I was free. Free from any negative thinking that my mind was trying to make me believe in. I was at peace. I was myself. It was just me. Bliss.
I`ve never stopped meditating ever since. Meditation taught me a lot and brought me on a amazing journey full of wonderful experiences. But mainly what mediation did is that it saved me. It saved me from myself, from my own thoughts, my own fears. It does not mean that I don`t experience fear, stress or worries or negative emotions anymore, but they don`t have much power over me. They do not affect me as they used to. I can be aware of them without identifying with them. I can notice them and stop them. Or I can leave them alone while I live my life. But the best of it is that my mind is so much more peaceful! That alone is worth gold!
Meditation changed my life because it changed the inside of me. It changed how I experience and respond to life. Life has still its moments of pain, joy, its problems, its ups and downs. But how I react to them is totally different now. I can now say that I am well, I am at peace, and I am happy.
It has been an amazing journey, trying at times but well worth it. Now I am dedicated to teaching people how to help themselves.
You can check my website www.karenwilson.co if you are interested in learning meditation, I wrote a couple of e-books and teach meditation retreats. Our next retreat is coming up, it will be on the 8th of November 2014. It would be great to see you there 🙂