How Meditation Helped Me Control My Anxiety & Find My Zen

Before I became hooked on meditation, I had put off trying it for years.

I mean it. Years.

This was in despite of the fact that had I suffered with anxiety almost my entire life. I was that kid who was afraid of everything. And once I got older, those childlike fears of being afraid of the monster underneath my bed evolved into fears of others judging me, of having panic attacks and of being anxiety-ridden forever.

As any desperate anxiety sufferer eventually does, I found myself moving from pillar to post, trying to find the next quick fix. You name it, I tried it: hypnosis, saying affirmations in the mirror, shuffling out hundreds of dollars for anxiety programs. I even tried convincing my sister to come with me to an anxiety retreat in England despite the hefty $4,000 cost to attend.

But after searching through hundreds of articles like, “How to Get Rid of Anxiety,” one of the most-used tips I found was

practicing

meditation. But still, something stopped me as the thought of sitting there, with all my anxious thoughts swirling around my head while I tried to get my “zen on,” seemed too much to handle.

So I did what any anxious person does: I dabbled in it, trying it here and there, before moving onto the next promised “miracle cure.”

It’s ironic to look back now and realize that the one cure I had been searching for was the one I spent years avoiding: meditation.

I’m the kind of person who likes to believe that things come into my life at the right time. Maybe I simply wasn’t ready back then to stick to a meditation practice or to realize the full potential it would create in my life.

The day that it did stick, however, I remember it well. I had been working at a new stressful job and having panic attacks on a frequent basis. Fueled by my desperation to get better, I gave in and finally decided to download the Headspace app’s free Take10 program.

At first, I felt just like Julia Roberts did in the movie, Eat Pray Love. She tried meditating in India only to find herself growing frustrated over being unable to shut her mind off. Despite this, I stuck with it, and stuck with it, coming back to my meditation practice each day until I found a little bit of silence gently wedged between my thoughts. I found so much relief during those first ten days that I upgraded to the yearly subscription. Soon, I found myself meditating 20 minutes a day, every day.

It’s been over a year since I fully devoted myself to meditation. I didn’t put any expectations into it, and that’s one of the best things I could have done as my lack of resistance allowed my mind to relax and reveal the blue sky that Headspace creator, Andy Puddicombe, talks about often, calling it the innate nature of our minds.

So, yes, I meditate and, no, I’m not some “hippie freak” (though I may preach about self-love). I let go of those stereotypes and my search for the next “miracle cure.” Now I meditate because it helps me better understand my anxiety, because it gives me peace and most of all, because it has changed my life.

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