Self-Care: Meditation

meditation-rock-balancing-stoneThis past March, I decided to discontinue the ECT treatments I was receiving beginning in February. They weren’t relieving my depression (ECT doesn’t always work), but still affected my memory. (In fact, my ECT doctor asked to keep him updated regarding my memory loss.) At the same time, a friend recommended Vipassana meditation. It’s steeped in Buddhist tradition, and all this stuff I don’t understand, but after finding a beginner’s guided version on YouTube, I decided to commit to its suggested 30 consecutive days of practice.

At the end of the month, I continued the meditation, but silently (without the teacher’s voice guiding me), except for a bell that chimes at the beginning, the end, and every 5 minutes. I use it as a mindfulness meditation rather than a traditional/religious practice. It helps me stay in the moment, but I still have a ways to go in terms of applying mindfulness to the rest of my life, particularly when I’m anxious.

When I first began meditating, a feeling of bliss would come over me, which I believe helped me out of the depressive episode I was experiencing back in March. I have been meditating every day ever since. Even on days that I feel depressed, I meditate even for only 10 minutes instead of my usual 45. The blissful feeling doesn’t always overcome me, but I believe that meditating has helped me to clear my mind of anxious thoughts, at least for a few minutes.

I realize that 10 minutes sounds like a lot at first, but I use this awesome (Android/Apple) app called Insight Timer, which allows you to set a timer for the length of time of your choice. There’s another beginner’s guided vipassana meditation I like called “Vipassana (Basic) Meditation” by Tara Brach. The app also includes over 4,000 guided meditations, some of which are specifically for anxiety, depression, sleep — pretty much anything you can think of. The best part is it’s free!

I’ve tried meditating in the past, and it never worked for me. I never took it seriously, too many thoughts intruded, and my mind wandered (not that this no longer happens now), so I just blew it off. I didn’t realize there was such a thing as guided meditation, which helped this time around. I admit that when I decided to give meditation another chance, I was desperate for something to help with my depression. I’m glad that I stuck with it and have made it a daily practice.

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