I’ve been meditating off and on since I was nineteen. I started as a way to help heal after my eating disorder – to manage anxiety, to calm down – and it evolved into a ritual I practiced twice a day, morning and night, every day of every week. Meditation is widely known for its link to improved mood, increased acceptance, and better all around wellbeing (as well at least 73 other benefits), and for my healing process, it was absolute gold.
As I got older and the problems I dealt with on a daily basis reduced – I was more accepting of myself and others, I woke up actually wanting to get out of bed – my meditation practice slowed down. I had seen it as a tool to get better, and I was better. I didn’t need it anymore.
But the last few months have been hard. I won’t go into too much detail, but I began therapy for a string of events that happened in my teenage years that I had repressed until rather recently, which re-opened a big ol’ can of worms. I thought that, now that I was older, dealing with it would be no biggie. Turns out I was wrong.
Unfortunately I’m only able to see my therapist about once every month or two (this is changing, thankfully), and the space in between appointments is rough. As soon as I began therapy, the events – and all the maladaptive behaviours I used to cope – came rushing back. I drank, I smoked, and I stopped eating. I stayed up late, staring at the ceiling, and I woke up the next morning groggy an unenthused with the day ahead. I avoided my friends, and I was sad all the time.
Knowing exactly how awful it was to be in the place I was as a teenager, I didn’t want to go back to it. I knew I needed to do something. So, instead of spending the first few minutes of the morning staring at my phone, effectively setting myself up to have a shit day, I started meditating again.
The first few days were challenging. I didn’t do it every day, and I felt like I was walking away from it feeling the same as I did before I started. Some days, I couldn’t even get myself to focus on meditating for thirty seconds, which caused me to get angry with myself (but that’s a whole other conversation).
But soon, things started to shift. I felt lighter after meditating, as though someone had scooped some of the negativity out of my chest and dumped it on the floor beside me. The rest of the day bumped along – better than before, but not as smooth as it once had been.
Now, I’ve meditated nearly every day for a month. I feel pretty good, but I know I can feel even better. So, I’ve decided to challenge myself to complete 365 days of meditation.
Starting September 1st, I’ll be meditating for at least ten minutes every morning, and at least ten minutes every evening. I’ll be doing this every day for a year – on weekends and holidays, when I’m sick and when I don’t feel like it.
Heal past traumas
This is obviously the biggest reason. I have a lot of things I need to work through, and I know meditation will help me let go of the negative beliefs I’ve been holding in my body for years (and there’s evidence that doing meditation and therapy simultaneously leads to increased benefits). It’s time to get rid of all the lousy feelings and maladaptive thought patterns my body and mind are clinging to, and begin to have a more positive outlook on life again.
I want to be able to walk into any situation, shitty or not, and be able to say “I’m okay with this right now.” I also want to be able to say that, even on bad days, I accept who I am, and I know things will get better. Life is a lot easier when you have the ability to say “I’m cool with this,” rather than getting in a huff over little things.
This one is exceedingly important for me. I’m one of those people who likes to sign up for too many things, and this year is no different (I’m currently editing the second draft of my first novel), and will be writing a good chunk of my second one for NaNoWriMo in November, along with about ten other things I’ve signed myself up for). Your girl needs a way to chill, especially when doing far too many things at once.
Paying attention is something I’ve always had problems with. At any given time, there are about twenty different thoughts zooming around my mind, and I can never give anything my full attention. I’d like to change that, even if in the end it’s only marginally – though research leads me to believe the change will be pretty significant.
And, of course, I’ll be documenting the process here on my blog, and likely on Instagram as well. You can expect monthly (ish) updates of how it’s going – as well as other meditation and mindfulness related posts, of course. I want to share this experience with you, but I also want to track the changes I experience so that, in future years, I can look back and see how much progress I made.
If you want to follow along and do the challenge with me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message me on my Instagram. You can also use #365meditationswithcat on Instagram to participate/follow along (you can expect to the first post on September 1st).
I’m really looking forward to this – to being more positive again, to slow down, to be present. And I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you!