Healthy Habit: Meditation
Photography by Kelly Hunter
Healthy Habit: Meditation
Passion: Music, reading, wellness
Family: Parents Ron and Mary; sister Elizabeth; 3 cats—Jasper, Figaro and Pitch; and a dog named Earl.
What motivated you to start a practice of meditation?
About a year ago, the latest in a long line of medical diagnoses landed me in the hospital. I had experienced multiple severe panic attacks due to unresolved trauma that resulted in a four-day hospital stay due to severe health concerns. At that time, my ex-best friend and I parted ways, which was more of a blow than any romantic breakup ever had been. A few months later, I left my job for health reasons, and life required an extensive reset. It’s what is known as a Tower moment, when things hit all at once like that. It was a time of upheaval that called for self-reflection and healing, resulting in a new life path. Because those medical issues directly impacted my heart muscle, I knew I had to change in order to extend my life.
How has this practice enhanced your life?
My blood pressure and blood sugar have both improved, and my sleep quality is better. Most of all, it has brought me clarity of mind.
Without being too personal, can you tell us about a few “Aha” moments that came through meditation?
The magic happens in the pause. Rest. This is temporary.
How do you fit it in to your daily life and stay dedicated?
I have a morning routine that I rarely waver from that involves 15 minutes of meditation, and I listen to guided meditation videos for an hour before falling asleep.
What is a non-negotiable when it comes to your meditation habit?
Cold temperature and no major distractions.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to make a simple practice of it and get started today?
Don’t worry about being perfect right away, and don’t think it has to be over a certain time to gain benefits from it. Life is full of distractions, but meditation does not have to be limited to just sitting cross-legged in a quiet room. It can happen doing anything repetitive, like during exercise, during gardening, even through creative expression like painting.
What about those who feel we can’t even settle for 5 minutes without getting up, or our brains jumping all over the place?
I’m ADHD, and there are times that my brain just doesn’t want to quiet down, so I then have to take full, deep breaths (in through the nose and out through the mouth) and visualize myself in my favorite spot outdoors, with vines going from the arches of my feet to the Earth’s core. This helps me stay grounded and in the moment, and is a technique I regularly use to stave off panic attacks as well, which I used to get on a regular basis. The mind does not have to be perfectly clear. If a thought comes, release it. Make a note if it’s something vital to remember, but chances are, it can wait.
How do you stay awake during meditation?
I listen to guided meditations on YouTube. If I fall asleep, then I forgive myself when I wake up because it means my body needed the rest. Set an alarm if you are worried about this happening.
What would you say to encourage others to start their own healthy meditation habit?
Allow it to work. Set the expectation for yourself that this is what is going to happen and set the necessary boundaries with others in your life, as well. Find what works for you, and don’t expect drastic change overnight. You can always go back later if it doesn’t work the first time. Meditation is nothing new and is not limited to any religion or spiritual path, although it can be a wonderful addition to any faith. If you aren’t religious or spiritual, it can still give you clarity and peace.
Why are healthy habits important to you?
Exercise, drinking water, meditation, saying daily affirmations all help me feel in control of my life and help with perspective and self-empowerment. As long as I can do little things to feel stronger and more balanced, I can do what I need to do to not only survive, but also thrive.