Perspective, Balance, Meditation

Seven years ago, my husband was stationed in Hawaii. He was in the military though he wouldn’t hurt a fly, and I was fighting against my pacifist background to tolerate military life. As newlyweds, we enjoyed the freedom we had to make a new life for ourselves, to have our weekends free, to be far away from social pressures we experienced at home. Two years in, he was done with the military and we were shipped back home to Ohio. Jobless, homeless, living with a family member temporarily, I felt rootless, like a maple tree helicopter twirling and twirling down toward the earth, prey to the slightest breeze. Up until that time, I had never experienced a financial crisis, and the sensation took me completely by storm. While Robert felt now was the time for a little relaxation before we started “real life” again, I fretted over being uninsured, having to depend upon another for shelter, and the perceived shame of having failed at life. During this time, I had to take meds just to be in control of my anxiety. I found a job and was able to get off the meds quickly.

Years later, because of said job, I was back on them along with a sleep aid. While I didn’t have adverse reactions to either, I felt a certain shame at not being able to handle life’s troubles. I wanted to move on, but I didn’t feel I had the skills to handle my stresses alone. As I waned myself off of these meds, I found replacements for each. Melatonin for sleep, St. John’s Wort for a reassuring feeling. These gave me the feeling of outside support, and probably acted as placebos more than anything else.

Off meds and in control, I knew I needed to tackle the root of the problem: caring too much about what others think, and worrying too much about life’s what-ifs. I began to read self-help books and found almost every one I read extremely helpful. I think the most important element to my success what that I was open to improvement, I felt desperate for guidance and therefore did not judge or doubt the advice I received. Through this, I discovered meditation.

Most people I know who don’t already meditate tend to shut down when I mention the word. Surprisingly, it is occasionally still thought of as hocus pocus, pagan practice, the work of the devil. These people must picture me contorted and speaking in a strange language, practicing evil magic.

I’ve also noticed that it is best mentioned when someone is actually coming to you for advice; unwanted advice is rarely put into use.

But meditation is simply the intention to focus your attention, quieting the mind. From observing your breath to chanting “ohm,” there are good reasons and good benefits to each type of meditation. It has helped me tremendously. In some way, guided meditation is comforting to me just because I am able to listen to a calming voice, and I put some amount of trust in that voice.

The other day, a friend was struggling with a romantic relationship, wondering how best to handle her situation. An hour later, she was ruminating over the same several factors that we had discussed. Her mind could not break free from this cyclical thinking, and she would likely be up all night in the same manner. I suggested she Google guided meditation and make an effort to get some perspective on her situation. After all, she has a choice over how her life will progress, she is not being persecuted or abused, and her basic needs are being met.

Surprisingly, she was open to the idea. To me, this is how God sometimes affects positive change in our lives. A conflict is brought about which forces us to assess ourselves and seek outside help or make a concerted effort to improve. Whenever I have trouble sleeping, I step away from the situation and ask, what is out of balance? A day or two later, I discover something was out of balance – whether I was not being mindful enough of the blessings in my life, or wasn’t allowing enough time for decompression at the end of the day, I needed to make a change to find my inner quiet again.