Calming the Gremlins

Around this time last year, one of my lovely friends sent me a Buddy Box from The Blurt Foundation. Among the things inside was a copy of Calm – a beautiful volume designed to help you create calmness in your life. Its accompanying app and website provides meditation exercises to encourage mindfulness and resilience against life’s stresses. At my most anxious times over the last year I have used the Calm app, predominantly to aid me in falling asleep and to stop the cacophony of thoughts in my head.

Until now, I’ve never managed more than 3 consecutive days of meditation. I tend to be fairly bad at doing things on a regular basis (blogging and diary-writing are prime examples!) However, for whatever reason, I’ve managed to keep my current meditation streak going, and today I hit 20 days. 20 days of taking time to calm my thoughts, to stop my butterfly mind from flitting from thing to thing before bed. It hasn’t worked every night – some evenings it’s taken a couple of attempts – but it has improved my ability to fall asleep.

So, it seemed like a good time to share my feelings on meditation with the wider world. I am fully aware that mindfulness, meditation and self-care have exploded into the public sphere over the last 12 months. Everywhere you look there are books and articles about creating a better, happier you. Most of it seems utterly over the top to me, and I’d argue that it’s difficult to function on a day to day basis if every other action is directed at making your life better. Most of us are just pottering along doing the best we can! But I digress…

If you struggle with sleep and/or tend to get anxious and worried, I urge you to give meditation a go. It’s not about sitting cross-legged on the floor with incense and whale music on, it’s about taking time to calm your mind. It means that you’re less likely to stare into the darkness worrying about tomorrow, fretting about whatever you need to get done. It encourages you to clear your mind rather than spend time raking over the day’s events or reflecting on the things you now wish you hadn’t said. I have found it to be incredibly beneficial. Sometimes it feels like the first real breath I’ve taken all day happens when I set aside the time to meditate. Afterwards, my whole body seems to hum with energy and awareness.

Last week was a toughie. I spent most of it in a state of anxiety, despite the measures I put in place to reign myself in. The anti-anxiety playlist I made towards the end of my degree got a thorough airing, my meditation sessions were littered with worries, and I spent my drives to and from work musing. But I got through! Friends texted me, my lovely mum looked after me, someone else told me not to care about what other people think of me. It’s the gremlins, the demons that keep me awake and fill my head with a dark anxiety. With the worry that I’m not good enough, that I’ve done the wrong thing, said the wrong thing, said too much, said too little, forgotten again. But kind people, meditation and music are instrumental my healing process. I hope that you all have own recipe for calming the gremlins, and if you’re open to suggestions, give meditation a go…

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