On Saturday I did nothing. Not nothing as in, I did the washing and cleaned the house and called old friends and made casseroles for my neighbours kind of nothing, I mean actually nothing. On Saturday I woke up at 9 am and did not get out of bed until 11am. From here I headed straight to the beach. No shower, no breakfast just pulled on some clothes and left. By 12 I was drinking coffee, lying in the sun reading Gone Girl and walking with my feet in the water. At 3pm I was hot and a little pink from the sun so I headed home to sleep off the day on the couch watching movies.
Sounds like the prefect day? It wasn’t.
I actually felt terrible the whole time. I felt like I had wasted my day. I had thought that I needed some time to relax and move slowly, instead I was just panicked more because relaxing felt selfish. Apparently doing nothing makes me feel really guilty.
I hear time and time again that ITP and autoimmune disorders are stress related. I have read that autoimmune disorders and diseases are linked to inflammation, stress and lifestyle. I keep being told that Meditation and Relaxation is such a great treatment for ITP. The PDSA website claims that meditation and relaxation are the most popular alternative treatment for people with ITP. But I can’t do it!! I just can’t seem to do it at all!
In Regards to Meditation as an ITP treatment. I have struggled for a really long time with Meditation; and by struggled with, I mean – I hated it. I just don’t ‘get it’. What is the big deal with mediation? It seems to be the most commonly prescribed and most talked about alternative therapy in the (my) world. ITP is often labeled as a lifestyle disease, a stress and inflammatory disorder.
So what is the big deal? You just sit there, and think of nothing right?
Since a few weeks ago, I never felt any better after meditation. In fact, after meditating regularly, I always felt worse. It seemed to me like I had just wasted 30 minutes of my life, which made me more stressed than when I started.
I have never been a big fan of wasting time, so instead of stopping the meditation (which as you know is a great treatment for ITP or whatever) I spent that time brainstorming my life. (Brilliant. Time well spent I thought.)
I used my meditation time to sort through my thoughts, I planned my work, organised a few of my classes, decided how I was going to rearrange the lounge room, and worked through ideas for my sister’s birthday presents. Often I would suddenly think of something I had forgotten to do. When I left the mediation I thought ‘Yes! I am calm and refreshed and I know where I am going. All those things that were bothering me are sorted out and I know what I am having for dinner.’
For me it was a purposeful time. A time where I could think, let my mind go crazy and analyse and plan and worry things over till I had figured them out. This was the opposite of meditation. My mind was never at rest.
So while I was getting more organised, I was not helping my health at all. Was I treating my ITP? No.
That was until a few months ago.
While reading a Ted Blog I found a presentation by the monk Andy Puddicombe. Puddicombe spoke of the importance of allowing our mind to rest. In the presentation, 4 Scientific Studies on how Meditation can affect your Heart, Brain, and Creativity he shared the very interesting story about how he became a monk and explains a very convincing argument as to why we should be taking 10 minutes a day to switch off our brains. He spoke of how we spend more time taking care of our cars, hair and coffee tables than we do our own minds.
“Most people assume that meditation is all about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind, but actually it’s much different than that,” says Puddicombe. “It’s more about stepping back, seeing the thought clearly — witnessing it coming and going — without judgment, but with a relaxed, focus mind.”
Everything he said actually made sense to me. I was meditating the wrong way. I was trying to get more out of my meditation instead of allowing myself to actually switch off. I was pushing myself at a time when I needed to stop and rest.
So How do you Meditate Properly?
This time I am not going to try to be an expert at it. I am not going to be harsh on myself and assume I can sit in perfect silence for 30 minutes without a single worry. What I did wrong was that I thought it was easy. What I did wrong was that I didn’t think I had to practice, or learn how to do it.
At the moment I am going through a particularly stressful time. There are lots of blood tests at the moment, and a crazy array of results, that continue to surprise me every week. I find myself again turning to Mediation for sceptical hope. (I am told being sceptical is not helpful for mediation but I persist none the less)
This time I am actually going to be a genius and learn how to meditate. This time I am going to set time aside (so that I don’t think that I have wasted it) This time I am going to realise that results for me are not immediate – not like running or going to ballet or stretching before bed. This is an accumulative process and it takes time. Who Knew?!
This time I am getting help. Lots of help. I am actually going to learn how to meditate. And look for mediations that I like. I did not know that if I hated Mediation I was probably doing the wrong one. As a beginner, look for guided mediations and meditations for beginners.
1. If you are looking for a good place to start I suggest Oprah – Perfect Health has wonderful introductions to mediation. Yes, I love Oprah. Easy to follow, understand and get your head around. None of the content goes over your head and each audio track not only explains what you need to do but why it is important – which seems to put a lot of things in context for me. This is the one I am listening to at the moment Perfect Health, by Deepak and Oprah.
2. If you don’t want to spend any money on guided meditations, there is another option. There is a meditation you can do any time that takes as long as you would like. All you need to do is sit or lie somewhere comfortable, close your eyes and count to ten. Each inhale and exhale should count as one number. In and out – that is ONE. In and out again – that is TWO. See if you can count to ten without thinking about anything but your breath at the numbers. This exercise is about holding your attention and focus. When done properly and slowly it is very difficult. It sounds easy but it isn’t. This exercise can result in a small amount of frustration as you realise that you can’t do it straight away.