In my last two sessions with Kent, we discussed meditation. I told him that I was having a little trouble with racing thoughts. I couldn’t concentrate. Especially while praying. Other than reading a book, my mind is often 17 places at once. Now, while I realize that this happens to even “normal” people, it can be extremely disruptive for someone with bipolar disorder.
I was expecting him to have me close my eyes and go to a “happy place.” What I was not expecting was a lesson in yoga! But, apparently, those yoga folks have the right idea. Here’s why:
- Sitting in the cross-legged position on the floor gives you a sturdy, triangular base, so that your back can be straight, and your body doesn’t sway. When you stand and don’t move, your body does begin to sway. Not so with this position. Now, just keep in mind, you don’t have to put your feet on top. Just sit like you did in Kindergarten to listen to the latest Dr. Seuss book. Or “criss-cross applesauce” as my kids learned in preschool.
- Now that arm thing. Palms up on your knees. What is that all about? Well, that brings your shoulders down and back naturally and keeps them that way. You don’t need to necessarily touch your middle finger and thumb together, but if it feels comfortable, do it.
- By sitting this way, you can breathe properly with your diaphragm. My choir teacher, Mrs. Goessman would be so proud!
- No humming is necessary, but breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth allows your mouth to dry up so that you don’t swallow, which can be distracting. (This one was a shocker to me!)
- You also need an external sense to focus on. For example, sight= a candle’s flickering flame, smell = incense or the candle’s scent, taste = (I teased Kent and said his must be coffee. He grinned and said yes, but he also uses cherry cough drops. Okaaaay.), sound = one of those tabletop waterfalls.
- Then, you begin to count from 10 backwards. He said to envision it like the old elevators that showed you what floor it is passing at the time, or stair steps.
Practice doing this when you are already calm. Trying to do it for the first time while you are anxious, may make you more anxious.
I practiced a few time last week, and then was able to use it in real life on Sunday. It was when it was pouring down rain and the wind was high. I hate driving in either of those weather conditions, much less both of them together. (I know. I know. I sound like an old lady. These conditions just make me anxious and drive with white knuckles all the way) I decided I needed to calm down. So, I went upstairs to my room and started to meditate. It only took me two trips down the elevator to completely calm myself! It really did work!
I hope this helps the next time you are nervous or anxious about something. A trip to visit the Dalai Lama is expensive, kids! I only wish George Harrison had come to me instead of going all that way.