I have been meditating on and off for about 20 years now, maybe longer.
I can remember as a child, I would shut my eyes, go deep inside myself, and see a light. I called that light God. Whether it really was God (or the Universe, whatever you believe) or just an overactive imagination, I can’t say, but when I awoke from my trance, I always felt at peace.
In my twenties, I took a yoga class at my local community college. I may not be the kind of person that you think of when you think about yoga, but I really enjoyed the class — not only the stretching, but particularly the meditation. The teacher would lead us through guided meditations, and there was even an assignment to create our own guided meditation.
Later in life, I have turned to meditation to alleviate thoughts of depression or anxiety. I have a family history of depression, and it has cropped up from time to time. I have taken meds, talked to therapists, but what has helped me the most is meditation.
I have never had depressive or anxious thoughts surrounding dialysis (mostly about women) but when I had a stroke in April 2015, everything changed. I was suddenly overwhelmed by crushing depression and crippling anxiety. All my confidence fell away, and I was lost.
One therapist recommended mindfulness meditation, and I even attended a mindfulness class at Kaiser. Everything just kind of fell into place, like I had found the missing puzzle piece that I had been frantically searching for.
In the class, we were given a definition of mindfulness that I really liked and clung to: awareness in the present moment with compassion and acceptance and without judgement or attachment.
It seems simple enough, but when I got into it, I was constantly judging my own thoughts, throwing away thoughts that I thought weren’t good enough or were stupid. Mindfulness has helped me to move past all that and just live in the moment and enjoy it for what it is. I got my confidence back, I started to truly appreciate beauty and nature, and more importantly I was no longer stifled by depression or anxiety.