Tag Archives: Meditation

Stopping the Spin

Whirling: A verb: move or cause to move rapidly around and around. That’s how I describe it. Constant, continuous whirling. All. The. Time. Thoughts whirl in, out, through and around my head. And for a while, I had no idea how to manage it.

To my recollection, the whirling dates back to when I was 2 years old. I would rip paper up, put it into a plastic bowl and spin it around with my hands. At the same time, I would chant. Yes, you read that right. A buzzing, humming chant that increased in volume over time. While I don’t have proof that this was the start of the whirling, it certainly looks that way.

As I grew up, the whirling turned into anxiety. The floodgate of thoughts would open at any given time, rush through my brain and leave me anxious and unsure of what to do. It wasn’t alway as paralyzing as it sounds. I figured out ways to focus, especially when the topic was of interest to me. While the chanting did stop, the fussing and fidgeting did not; I would constantly twirl a rubber band (or Mardi Gras beads, or a hair tie, etc) between my fingers. I could control it to an extent; if I was comfortable around someone or in someplace, the rubber band would appear.

10% HappierTwo weeks ago, I ditched the rubber band. Sometimes, it feels like I threw out my security blanket. The twirling and fidgeting was a release for me and although it isn’t detrimental to my health, it was distracting, to me and those around me. This is thanks to Dan Harris and 10% Happier. Harris, an ABC news anchor, talks about his struggle with his version of whirling. He’s real, relatable and was a skeptic of meditation. Now, after seeing a change, he is one of its biggest advocates.

We all have the whirling..worries, to-do lists that are never done, etc. But, how we manage it is unique to us. What mindfulness does, as Harris describes, is helps people identify their thoughts to create space in their heads. This helps you be less anxious, less responsive and overall less stressed. Yes, there is scientific research that backs this.

I’m also finding that other activities provide similar results to meditation. Activities like working out (especially yoga and strength training) and cooking relax my mind and provide something specific to focus on. Cooking also unleashes a stream of creativity that excites me. Maybe try these activities (if you like them) as a start.

I get it, it sounds a bit crazy. I know. I was there. But I encourage you to start small, a few minutes a day and use a guided meditation app (I recommend 10% Happier, Happify or Headspace). I use these to fall asleep, which is when my whirling is the worst. Overall, I fall asleep and stay asleep longer, can stay in the present more easily and when I can’t, I use my breath to regain focus.

Now, I am not perfect and some days, all I do is whirl. But, it’s progression, not perfection, that’s important in this mindfulness journey. Corny? Maybe. But it’s accurate and life changing. Give it a try and start living your best life.

 

 

What’s With Well-being?

Whirling. We all do it. When the thoughts in our head race so fast we can’t keep up. When you’re so restless at night thinking about the next day’s to do list. When the days fly by and you forget to eat, sleep or pause for a breath. Yes, this is the whirling. I was (and some days still am) in need of a way to get the whirling to stop. Luckily, I found one.

About a month ago, the Center for Healthy Minds did a live event with the Dalai Lama. It was the most enlightening 90 minutes I’ve experienced in a while. The Center is dedicated to helping people change their minds, so they can change the world. Richie Davidson, the founder of the Center, spoke passionately about the four components of well-being:

  1. Resilience: How fast or slow we recover from adversity. Richie believes this is a learnable skill.
  2. Positive Outlook: The ability to see the basic goodness in every human being and savor that experience.When you see the world in a more positive light, your body’s stress hormones are lowered.
  3. Attention: A wandering mind (aka a whirling mind) is an unhappy one. There are strategies for managing attention including mediation.
  4. Generosity: Acts of giving activate circuits in the brain that regulate emotions and lower stress.

When all of these aspects are combined, a person can achieve well-being or the state of being comfortable, healthy and/or happy. Richie cites different pieces of research that prove these concepts improve your overall physical, mental and emotional health.

Dalai Lama

Inner peace is another way to say happiness

As for me, I just wanted the whirling to stop. I listened to Richie and the Dalai Lama speak and show real scientific proof and thought might as well give it a shot. I started by mediating to fall asleep at night. It got me to focus on my breathing instead of my to do list. I fell asleep faster and stayed asleep all night. Win #1 for meditation!

Resilience has been the hardest concept for me to implement. When things go wrong, either at work or at home, I tend to get hung up on them. I replay the mistake or challenge over and over again and lose all confidence in myself. This is definitely not a good place to be in. One thing I’ve started doing was writing down any challenge, heated moment or incident that triggered me. By writing it down, I’m letting it go. Still very much a work in progress, but it’s a start.

You can start today too. Well-being isn’t something you inherit, you can learn as you go and pivot as needed. I absolutely feel better and in times of high stress know how powerful even a few deep breathes can be.

 

 

 

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