My meditation journey…
Back in 2013, I was working in Canary Wharf London and had a career in Financial Services Technology – Operational Risk. This was a highly pressurised role working with facilitating risk management across 32 locations within Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). I endured daily commutes of 2-3 hours each way. By the end of the week, I was exhausted! Coupled with my Mother becoming ill, with me relocating further afield to be with her, it comes as no surprise that the stress of it all eventually took its toll. I suffered debilitating migraines, anxiety, and exhaustion. I sought help from my GP who suggested Mindfulness Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (MCBT).
MCBT was amazing and I soon became aware of how my thoughts were effectively controlling my feelings and subsequent behaviour. From here, I started meditation using the Calm App. Mostly, I used the app for a 15-30minute body scan meditation before bedtime to help me sleep. It was great, I was able to ‘soften’ the body and calm the mind, which meant sleep was more restorative. I slept better than I had for a long time, which in turn made a difference to how I felt when I woke each day. I was more alert, focussed and refreshed, therefore felt better able to cope with the day ahead. I also used the Calm app for breath meditation during the day, as an ‘emergency’ reset, when I felt anxious or overwhelmed. With this experience, I was better able to identify triggers and draw on meditation to enable a more effective response to these triggers.
During this time, a friend also suggested trying yoga, however I was a little resistant as I had tried it in my 20s and didn’t ‘feel it was for me’… how wrong was I!? Eventually, I signed up to Original Hot Yoga (previously known as Bikram Yoga). This style of yoga is performed in approx. 40-42 degrees centigrade and 70-80% humidity. Maintaining focus on the breath and an awareness of ‘mind chatter’ is key to this style of yoga. The moment your mind wanders and you lose focus on your breath, is the moment you feel extremely faint. I soon began to identify similarities between the disciplines of yoga and meditation, i.e. the importance of the breath for creating space and stillness, both mentally and physically. Here, my curiosity to develop my meditation experience was born!
For me, meditation is “a life skill that facilitates moments of stillness to settle our busy minds and enables the cultivation of awareness for improved wellbeing.” This truly has been my experience and, as that experience grows, I become more aware. Aware of stress triggers, my response to those triggers and how I can better manage my response. My sleep is very much improved, waking feeling refreshed and positive. Mentally I feel stronger, along with my overall wellbeing, which is more balanced, calm and able to cope. My only struggle now is, I do not understand why some people do not meditate!