Two years ago I felt the sh*ttest I have ever felt.
I was run down, burnt out, and stuck in a job that was stressing me out so much that my physical and mental health were a mess.
I was desperate to get out of the rut and feel better, but anything I tried just didn’t seem to work. I knew that things like meditation and mindfulness were *meant* to help me feel better, but I just couldn’t make the time, or develop the patience for it.
Watch: The horoscopes and self-care. Post continues below.
It seemed boring... despite being told by countless people and sources that it’s proven to do things to your brain (good things, apparently.)
After attempting lots of different apps and types of meditation, despite my resistance (and feeling increasingly sh*tty), I decided to try and give it a serious shot to see if it would actually make any impact. I was sceptical, but also desperate for something.
The thing is, I suck at committing to things – unless I have someone or something to be accountable to.
For me, that meant I needed to go hardcore. I forked out a lot of money to do a Vedic Meditation course, knowing that if I paid for a course to actually learn how to do it, I was a) more likely to commit because I’d spent a lot of cash, and b) if I understood how to actually meditate, and what impact it can have, then maybe I’d be more motivated.
The Vedic technique is mantra based, and the idea is that you meditate twice a day. The technique is really easy to learn, and it’s meant to be 'effortless' – which sounded pretty good to me.
Basically, in the technique that I learnt, you do a five-day course where you are given a personal 'mantra' – a word in Sanskrit that you repeat to yourself during your meditation.
Then, you sit down wherever you can – the idea is that you can do it anywhere – and you close your eyes and repeat the mantra to yourself.
Of course, the normal thing to happen is that random thoughts pop up, and that’s okay, you let them come and go and when you remember, you go back to repeating the mantra.
You do this twice a day for 20 minutes, once in the morning and once in the afternoon or evening. And that’s it!
So basically, you close your eyes for 20 minutes twice a day and do nothing... and it makes you feel a whole better for the rest of the day. Kinda crazy, I know.
If you want to get a taste for the technique, there’s a free app called 'One Giant Mind' that does a guided version.
I’m not going to lie – saying 'I meditate twice a day' feels a bit wanky to me.
It’s true, and I could talk about it for hours, but I don’t much because I don’t want to give the wrong impression.
It feels like one of those things that 'seems like a cult but isn’t a cult' – on the outside everyone rolls their eyes and says 'yeah sure' but on the inside it’s like you’ve unlocked this secret club that can change your life.
Yep, I said it – meditation really did change my life.
Not in a day, but over the course of the past two years, there are lots of little things I’ve noticed that have had a massive impact on me – making me much more relaxed, compassionate and I like to think a better human.
These are the things I’ve noticed:
I’m less stressed.
Look, I am the sort of person who gets stressed really easily.
So to say I never stress anymore would be a lie. BUT, overall, meditating has made me significantly less stressed.
They say it can do this, but I kind of always thought it was lie... until I realised a few months into meditating that I just didn’t care or worry about the little things as much.
Sure, things would still annoy me or I would still worry, but I was able to let them go a lot more easily – at work and in my personal life. It’s been a game changer.
I’m less anxious.
Going hand in hand with being less stressed, I also felt a lot less anxious.
Let's be real though, this didn’t happen overnight.
It gradually happened after a year or so of committing to meditating. I am a very anxious person, and get caught in my head a lot. I found after meditating for a while I was able to be much more present, and enjoy things without getting in my head.
Big, sad, traumatic events in my life felt more manageable.
This is a weird one, but as I meditated and learnt more about Vedic Meditation and the beliefs, I was more 'at ease' with things going wrong.
Of course when something heavy and sad happens it shakes you, but I felt like I could deal with it a bit better, and provide support to other people in a more compassionate way too.
My friendships and relationships changed.
I found the more I meditated, the more clarity I got about the types of things I wanted to spend my time doing and who I wanted to spend it with. I was much less interested in drinking and partying, and craved more genuine connections and chats with like-minded people.
This meant that naturally some of my relationships changed. I grew closer to some friends, who I found I could really connect with, and I grew apart from others.
This was actually quite hard, and I felt a sense of loss for the past friendships that no longer felt relevant to my life.
But at the same time, it made me really appreciate the existing and new friends I grew closer to, and I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the friends in my life now.
I had a full on life crisis.
After about six months of committing to meditating I had a FULL. ON. MELTDOWN. Like 'WTF I am doing with my life/job/friends/time' meltdown. I got pretty down and depressed and it really shook me.
But I now understand that I had to go through this to realise what was most important to me, and after quitting my job, moving to the beach and surrounding myself with supportive friends and family, I emerged on the other side feeling better than I ever have.
I feel more empathy and compassion.
Since meditating I feel much more compassion and empathy for lots of different people as well as animals.
When I’m in a difficult situation with someone, even if I’m angry at them, I also feel this profound sense of empathy and love for them as another human.
At the end of the day, we are all just doing our best, and everyone has their different struggles. It’s strange, but also beautiful.
It taught me that you don’t get fulfilment from things or other people.
This was a big one for me.
I've always been very 'go go go' and am constantly looking for something to do or change.
Sitting still in meditation has made me realise that you are never going to get fulfilment from anything external – a job, house, relationship – whatever it may be.
Fulfilment comes once you accept who you are and fully embrace that. I don’t know why it took me so long to realise this... but it’s been the one thing that’s changed how I look at everything.
Have you tried meditation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Feature Image: Supplied.