The British School of Meditation Blog

16May

Meditation and Mental Health

 

 

Meditation and Mental Health

 

Faced with yet another day of having a blank page in front of me contemplating writing a blog on Meditation and Mental Health, my mind was once again stymied. A case of writer's block! 

 

So I sat quietly for a while looking out into the garden at the beautiful roses blowing in the sunshine while I considered different ways of starting and what I could say. No…still a yawning blank. 

 

I really wanted to write something meaningful as so many people are facing difficult mental health challenges. So I thought about writing on the benefits of meditation and the significant scientific evidence that shows how meditation can improve our mental health and well-being: shrinking the amygdala, lowering blood pressure and cortisol, decreasing anxiety, changing our brain waves and much more. But I’m not a natural scientist and this didn’t really get the creative flow going. And then the thought came…just write about what you know.

 

I've been meditating for many, many years and it's been a constant anchor in my life: a regular and welcome practice, although maybe not through my teenage years! It has been a cornerstone of life.

 

But recently, I’ve been experiencing a debilitating time struggling with adrenal fatigue and gut issues and have been working with different therapists including a functional nutritionist to ease the symptoms of gut dysbiosis, SIBO and all the accompanying well known additions that these issues bring such as anxiety, low mood, fatigue and brain fog. In addition there were sneaking accompanying thoughts of failure: ‘I’m a strong and resilient person. How can I be experiencing these things when I’ve been practising meditation for so long?’.

 

And thank goodness meditation is in my toolbox. It hasn’t been a panacea, it hasn’t made the issues disappear but it has provided times when I am able to relax, see the wood for the trees and enter quietness and solace, some days even if only for a brief moment.

 

Every morning I start the day with half an hour of mantra meditation often followed by some chanting, and more recently I've taken to practising Qigong at this time as well. Then in the evening I practise a different sort of meditation. I've used tuning forks sessions with Eileen McKusick, Yoga Nidra, Qigong meditations and visualisations along with Loving Kindness meditations depending on how I feel on the day. 

 

My daily practice has been a boon. I’ve also appreciated how a regular seated or lying down practice helps me be more mindful during the day: reminding me to be present, to feel my feet on the ground, to observe what's around me. 

 

I suppose what I'm left with is the understanding that meditation hasn’t got rid of any of the challenges I’m experiencing but it has definitely given me a way in which to turn my

 

 

 

attention to something else, to remind me of who I really am, to have patience, and most importantly to love myself.

 

Jon Kabat-Zinn encourages us to just get our ‘bottom on the cushion’ and I would definitely echo this. In my experience, a regular practice of meditation can really help when times are tough, and it can also support us through the joys. I’m certainly so grateful to have meditation in my life. I’m now contemplating cold water swimming in the East Suffolk sea…but maybe that’s for another day!

 

By Catherine Thomlinson 

 

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