Lately my girlfriends I must say that my head is full. Really. My brain indeed hurts. It’s been a long few months and well, my sisters, I’m feeling the need , somedays to just shut off.
Likely some of you indeed know what I mean? Don’t some of my girlfriends out there ever feel the need to quite the voices in your head? Fret not- we are not talking the kind voices that tell me to do irrational things- no, these are more the voices that ride a fine line between the mundain and the things that need to be done.
Some suggested I take up Yoga- an hour class of stretching in order to quite the mind. Unfortunately my sisters- I have never been a fan of Yoga. As many of my girlfriends know- I am more of a run the sea wall kind of girl than stretch it till it hurts….. as far as aligning my CHAKRAS? It’s best that they run free.
Besides in the midst of training for a half Iron Man…. Who has the time for a 90 minute yoga experience? Sure it might be good to stretch it all out and blah, blah, blah. Yes, it hurts just to write it down, never mind register for a class.
And so in the spirit of a quite mind- I decided to take up meditation.
Yes, meditation. This is where you pick a quite place in your home close the lights and just breathe.
I know. Those of you who know me might be in a bit of shock. Me, Meditate? As in just be still and let my insides quite? Could it be done you ask? Where would she find the time? Where would she find the space? Can she even sit still for a few minutes without medication on board?
Trust me my sisters- I pondered these
And so I went in search of the perfect steps to learn how to meditate in 5 steps or less.
Set an alarm. According to the interweb (how did we learn before cyberspace?) I am to chose a quiet place and set an alarm.
Pick a quiet friendly place in the home that is dark and happy. I have chosen my…. Closet. Screw Disneyland- THIS is my happiest place on earth. It’s small, intimate and my happiest times are often spent here. No judgement sisters- she who is without flaws will cast the first open toe pump.
Sit in a comfortable position. I am training for a Half Iron Man. No position is comfortable. My hips are killing me. I lie flat on my back in a closet in the dark. Yes…. This is comical.
Breathe and quite the mind. This sounds easy. It is not. My mind wanders to things to do, missed deadlines and what I should eat for breakfast. But I continue to push all these thoughts aside and quiet the mind.
Breathe and wait for the alarm to go off.
And so, to summarize, the first day of my meditation went something like this:
Set the alarm on my iphone for 5 minutes. Settle in to my closet (aka- my happiest place on earth) closed the door shut the lights and lit a candle. Sat on the floor crossed legged. 15 seconds later- blew the candle out- the smell and light were distracting. Ahhhh much better. Now in the complete darkness. My hips are killing me. My hip flexors are screaming. Shhhh I tell myself- quite your mind. Quite your mind. It is now a battle between my mind and my hips. I uncross my legs, lie flat on the floor and let my mind and my legs shut up.
It was one entire week of meditation before I gave up the ghost. Make no mistake- I am sure it is a completely noble practice- but like many things in the world- it is not for me.
I gave meditation 10 good days before I realized that it was really just another thing for me to do. No, this practice did not enrich my soul and no I was not more productive in my daily life. Here’s the thing…. I’m not convinced there was a good deal wrong with my inner quite before I started the whole process. Sure- I’m high energy and yes, I find t a challenge to sit still but if I am okay with it and my life is not out of limits than what is indeed the harm. Physically I’m in great health and mentally I am likely as neurotic as the next sister- so when it all comes out in the wash? Nobody gets hurt- if I don’t sit in my closet for 5 minutes every morning and try to shut off my brain.
A study published in 2007 in the American Journal of Hypertension showed that indeed meditation can be used to lower blood pressure. The study was a meta-analysis of nine randomized controlled trials looking at the effects of transcendental meditation and the effects on blood pressure in participants. Overall patients who participated in daily meditation in these studies had an average systolic reduction in blood pressure of 4.7 mmHg (range of 7.4-1.9 mmHg reduction) and an average diastolic reduction of 3.2 mmHg (with a range of 5.4-1.3 mmHg).
The study looked at the effects of meditation in a population of patient with borderline hypertension. The studies did not examine the effects in patients without high blood pressure nor in those with hypertension. Criticisms of these studies have cited that there indeed was a bias in term of how the studies were conducted,in that it would be hard to standardize a person’s meditation experience.
As for mindfulness meditation which is what I indeed tried? According to a review published in the British Medical Journal in 2004, controlled trials of mindful meditation have not used true controls in their studies and so specific effects of meditation in this form can not be isolated.
There you have it my sisters…. A little bit of evidence one way and not so much in the other. I can meditate or I can use the evidence to sit on my ass in my closet and just look at my shoes…. There you have it girlfriends. Meditate on that.