The Power of Meditation
I recently made the decision to take my mental health more seriously, and this was all brought into focus after several terrible Monday mornings that took the ‘Monday Blues” to a whole new level. Every Monday I would awake to this sluggish feeling of defeat and I hadn’t even showered yet. I first thought that I was just tired but a normal kind of tired, not anything serious. As the sluggishness became the norm, every morning felt like a Monday and it only got worse when the vertigo hit. Now for those who don’t know what vertigo is in simple terms, it is difficulty retaining balance, it feels like the room is spinning and you are a baby reindeer in 9 inch heels trying to walk for the first time. It is horrible.
I realized after another spin around the room that I had to make a better effort at dealing with my health instead of convincing myself that I was ‘just fine’.
After some reflection, I also found that I struggled to fall asleep most nights and if I did I would wake up halfway through the night from extreme discomfort or back pain. I reminisced about the days when I was a child and would just fall asleep and then it dawned on me that I never actually just fell asleep but that my mother would read me a story and actually condition me and my mind to sleep.
Fast-forward, as a young working adult in constant environments of stress and never-ending responsibilities, toxic energies from the news and social media, the truth of the matter is that if you are anything like me you spend more time stressed out or completing stressful tasks than practicing relaxation. So naturally, we would struggle to just switch off at night and retire to a good night’s rest.
Also, in the black community stress is somewhat one of those things that come with “black-tax” we are only now starting to be more open about depression, suicide, and mental health. We haven’t really been taught or exposed to therapy, meditation or other proactive means that prioritise our mental health.
So I stopped playing tough and picked up meditation. Now, before you roll your eyes and move on, note the following; meditation has got nothing to do with religion or spiritual practice, although many spiritual teachers include it in their overall religious practice, the act itself does not take you away from your faith or beliefs but if anything meditation affirms your sense of self, sharpens your focus, clears your mind and conditions your body to a state of rest. Why is a state of rest important? It is important because a cluttered mind is not a productive mind.
In your home, you have a dustbin to collect all the packaging, leftovers or food that has expired, after a few days you take it out because if left for too long the smell of garbage starts to contaminate the whole house, I believe it is the exact same with the mind. If we do not make an effort to empty out and cleanse the negative thoughts, pain, arguments from the day, and baggage from the past it will infect our entire body and overall well-being.
If you are one of those people who struggle to just sit in a corner and focus because of the 1000 thoughts, there are multiple apps that will assist your efforts to relax, these apps include breathing exercises, lullabies, soothing sounds of nature, and stories. These are all designed to help you make a deliberate effort to relax. To help you along I have included my general tips for mediation:
- Set 30 mins to an hour aside in the mornings or evenings
- Put on some comfortable clothes, you don’t want tight items restricting you
- If you are a fan of incense, burn a stick or the smell of essential oils works too, particularly lavender.
- Find a clear space, nothing too big or fancy, just enough space to comfortably sit down or stretch out your body if you prefer.
- Relaxing your muscles and joints, take a deep breath through your nose, hold for 10-15 seconds, and release. Be present in just your breathing and nowhere else- repeat.
Seems simple enough right? However, it’s a trap Sis, the reality is sitting down when you have many things to do is very difficult but remember your health matters! You need time to yourself for yourself. A practice like this every day will reduce your stress significantly and you will begin to appreciate the infinite treasure that is your mind.
Zizipho Ndevu works as an analyst for a risk management firm located in Johannesburg where she provides political and security analysis to global clients operating in Southern and West Africa. She holds her honors degree in Political and International Relations and is passionate about storytelling and stimulating debate