Anchoring and drifting away

Those of you who know me know that I've been having a little bit of a struggle with anxiety for the past few years. I've never been that much of a worrier, but recently my anxiety seemed to grow worse this past July. Without getting into specifics (since that may be another blog post entirely), let's just say that I've needed to relax and been having a hard time doing so.

Sometime in the autumn of 2012, I starting looking at yoga and T'ai Chi classes. I had always wanted to do T'ai Chi, but there were never any classes close enough that it would be worthwhile to attend. Needless to say, there still aren't any classes. So, I looked into yoga. I found a place in Princeton near my work that had a lot of yoga classes throughout the week, and the prices hit a very sweet spot.

Something else caught my eye, though: meditation.

Since that time, meditation has been sitting in the back of my mind as I worked and procrastinated my days away. However, a fire must have been lit under my ass this past weekend because Kristin and I finally went out and tried it. And holy shit, was it relaxing!

Now, please don't think that this blog is going to turn into all new age-y crap about crystals and all-kale diets. As much as that kind of lifestyle seems peaceful, I don't think I could bring myself to being that happy all the time. After all, how can you be a complete person if you aren't experiencing the full range of human emotions?

I really didn't know what to expect going into this place. It wasn't a full lecture about meditating or something where you had to buy their full range of CDs and meditation clothes. In fact, it was free, just an introduction to it. The woman sat us down, went through two quick methods, and said it was a great thing to introduce into your daily activities.

The first one we tried was what our instructor called The Three Arrivals. Basically, you sit up straight, then you focus on relaxing your body, regulating your breath, and letting your mind go.

The second one was center, anchor/identify, and then let go. You close your eyes, become aware of your surroundings, and focus on an anchor, like the rhythm of your breathing. As this happens, distractions may occur. For us, it was doors opening and closing and people getting ready for another class. When you begin to think of those as distractions, you identify what they are and then let them go. Essentially, you notice they are distractions rather than letting the surrounding things distract you.

What really amazed me about these techniques is that although I was aware of my surroundings, time seemed to simultaneously slow and fly. I did feel myself going kind of trance-like at some points, just watching the blood flows on the inside of my eyelids. After each meditation, our instructor asked how long we thought we had been sitting there. Whatever time we thought, we found the actual time was about double that.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with my mind. While I love having the opportunity to think up things (especially when then end up being good ideas or something creative) on the fly, I hate when my mind goes a mile a minute dissecting my entire life when I'm trying to get to sleep. I've always wonder how to just turn my mind off and sit peacefully. Even while reading, an activity I love to do, my mind often roams elsewhere. This seems like the perfect opportunity to just chill out and feel that relaxation for which I've been searching. Five to ten minutes a day is not too much to ask to try this. I spend more time than that screwing around on my phone. I'm sure as this succeeds or fails, I'll be writing about this again in the future.

Now, would you like to hear my recipe for Kale and Quinoa Pilaf?

This entry was posted on Monday, January 7, 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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