Meditation as Medication

Meditation, from the day I started practicing, has been the single best thing for my well-being this year. It’s my charging station, my power cord. E., my best friend, said I was like a mobile phone with a crappy battery that needed to be charged all the time. That is exactly it: I’m okay… I’m okay… I’m fading… I’m gone. For months, my meditations were responses to the “gone” stage ~ when I crashed, they were necessary to recharge me. Now, they are built-in to each day ~ they are necessities to stop me from getting to the point that I’m gone. I meditate twice, if not three times, a day. This means going to my little meditation room (originally created to be my yoga room, which I hope to be able to do again one day), lying on my mat (a small folding futon), putting on my eye shades and listening to a CD, YouTube or podcast. I can do my own meditation silently in my head, but I much prefer to listen to someone guiding me. I find it so calming ~ that is, if I can find the right voice. There are some WACKOS on YouTube.

The downside of this is, of course, the cost. The best meditations I have found were on Amazon and, most of the time, they seem to be about $20 for an hour of talking. Meditation Oasis podcasts are free, but they’re all similar and quite short. There is no shortage of 5 to 20 minute meditations out there. Ideally, I’d like to find hour-long, good quality meditations ~ guided imagery or body scans or breath work or hypnosis practices. Lots of the time, I’m hoping to fall asleep. I’ll listen for half an hour and then doze off, but I always wake up when the meditation ends, so longer is better for me. The other downside is repetition ~ I have listened to my five CDs hundreds of times. When you know a meditation by heart, you tend not to pay attention as closely as you once did.

Interestingly, though, each time I do guided imagery, something new always bubbles up in my brain. And it’s always from my past. My therapist says I am a future thinker: the what if thoughts. What if my husband gets sick? What if I can never work again? What if something happens to a loved one abroad and I need to get on a plane? What if I have an allergic reaction to Lyrica? What if I lose health insurance? What if there’s an earthquake? What if I get the flu? What if I can’t get disability? What if we can’t pay our mortgage? What if I’m like this forever? But, I don’t think about/ talk about/ dwell on my past. However, that doesn’t stop it from playing out like little movies in my meditations and I sometimes find myself lying peacefully with tears running from behind my eye shade into my ears.

There is one guided imagery phone app that I listen to which has me walk down ten steps to a landing with two doors. When I open one of the doors, there is always something new behind it. Last week, I opened the door onto a field in Tiglin, Ireland where I went with E. when we were kids. How old were we? 14? 15? I can smell the air and see the trees and remember the feeling of freedom and excitement. It was before health problems and before the real insecurities of teenage years. We were out of the city, alone, responsible. We were giddy, we were growing up.
Another day, I opened the door into a cabin where I stayed with my two brothers. It was a skiing trip, I was a little older. We drank some beers and blared Janis Joplin and sang along to every song. My brother, who is seven years older, said, “I didn’t know you knew Janis” and I felt jubilant ~ as if I was finally an accepted member of the cool kids instead of the annoying, bratty baby sister. I think they laughed at one of my jokes; I remember pure joy.
Another day, the door opened on a stream. I ran down a path and jumped from rock to rock and, when I saw Dash, I realised I was at the creek next to my Dad’s old house. Dash was our dog from when I was five to the age of twenty. We ran along that creek all the time. Dash didn’t have to be on a leash, he would follow me up and down the rocks and, when I sat down in the sun, he would, too. My constant companion, my protector. A few weeks ago, Dash would have turned 238 ~ in dog years.

Whenever those meditations tell me to imagine a time when I felt happy or go to a room where I feel safe and secure, surrounded by those I love, there are always dogs. My imagined room has all the dogs from my whole life, protecting me, playing with me, making me laugh, making me forget all else. My gratitude today goes to Dash, Floppy, Toby, Joxer, Bowie, and Riley. And to mindfulness and meditation, which keep my battery charged and keep me (mostly) in the here and now.

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16 thoughts on “Meditation as Medication

  1. […] meditation. I wrote about Meditation as Medication a while ago and I still practice every single day. And it is still probably the number one thing […]

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  2. I could have written this! Your experience of meditation as medicine is exactly the same as mine. I too meditate several times a day as scheduled recharge times. It helps me manage my symptoms so much. I also fall asleep during tracks and then come to just as it finishes – I’ve often wondered does that mean I wasn’t actually asleep given I was aware enough to come to as the track concluded, was I actually in the elusive meditative state? I also totally relate to the wandering mind being worse when it’s a track I’ve heard over and over. The cost of new tracks is prohibitive. I like Jon Kabat Zinn too and Meditation Oasis but you’re right they are all very samey. Have you come acroas yoga nidra relaxations? i love them and I’ve found lots of nidra tracks (bodyscans and imagery combined) on amazon mp3 downloads. I particularly like James Jewell’s short, long and his chakra tracks. As they’re mp3 downloads they are only 79p or so (assume the Amazon US has similar pricing) each. A good cheap way of boosting your track list. I also like Bristol Community Yoga nidra relaxation tracks free on iTunes podcasts. Think I’ve waffled enough. Great post! Here’s to many more happy hours meditating 🙂

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    • E. Milo says:

      I don’t fall asleep anymore, unfortunately, but you’re meant to be alert during meditation, so I try to welcome whatever experience comes. I’ve never listened to yoga nidra and never thought of buying mp3 downloads – brilliant! That would make it cheaper and I will look into those. I just checked Amazon – James Jewel’s tracks are $1-$3 Perfect, thanks!

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      • You’re welcome. If you like the nidras I can recommend lots of others I’ve built quite a collection in the year since I discovered them. Happy meditating 🙂

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      • E. Milo says:

        I just did two yoga nidras and of course I HAVE done them before – I used to do them all the time, I still start and end my meditations with a sankalpa … I just forgot about them. I couldn’t find the Bristol podcast, but I found one with a lovely English lady who said “froat” instead of throat and “pam” for palm, as in Pamela, rather than “pom” like they do here. Made me feel right at home!! 😉

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      • Haha! I think I’ve got that one too, “froat” made me laugh! There must be some nidras with Irish accents out there somewhere, that would be really special for you!

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      • Brilliant!! Her voice is v gentle. Nice! Also I’d never thought about using you tube for meditations (durrrrr) so thanks for the tip!

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      • E. Milo says:

        I just found the Bristol yoga nidras. Her voice is the best! However, in the one I listened to, she did the body scan bit too quickly for me ~ it made me all anxious and adrenaliney trying to keep up with her (thank you, crazy ANS). Have you done the chakra one (I don’t know the name off the top of my head). I really liked it. I’m going to add these to my meditation list on the other post. Thank you!

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      • Glad you liked them! I know what you mean about the fast pace ramping up your body, I find that sometimes too. Tho I tend to like the pace as it keeps my mind focused more. I hadn’t done the chakra one but I just downloaded it and did it, it’s so good! I love how she links colour to each chakra.

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      • E. Milo says:

        Yes! And the golden orbs of light zipping around your body. if I’m deeply relaxed, I can really get on board with those balls of energy healing me all over. 🙂

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      • Me too! It’s amazing how I can feel as if the light or energy ball is actually flowing through my limbs. It makes everything tingle! Magic!

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  3. Lindsay says:

    i used to be great about doing meditation, and lately i’ve been slacking. i especially like body scan meditations – i find them helpful for my illness. i often get mediation cds from my library and copy them to my collection. it’s cheap (free) and allows me to have a number of different varieties of meditations.

    thanks for the reminder about how great it can be for my health!

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