How to finaly get the meditation benefits you’ve been promised
How I stopped my anxiety attacks in three weeks
I had been meditating for six months on doctors orders, and I was getting nowhere. At that point my life had been going downhill for a year or so. An addiction to weed led to a debilitating anxiety/dissociation disorder known as depersonalization/derealization. It crippled me from living my day to day life. Meditation was supposed to help me deal with my anxiety, grow my self awareness, increase my focus, and give me better sleep. However after six months of meditation I had squat to show for it. I was still the scared and depressed 18 year old kid with daily anxiety attacks, the attention span of a goldfish, and the need for pills to fall asleep. It was pretty disheartening being promised so many benefits and reaping none of them after six months of falling and getting back up again. Meditation has become increasingly popular over the past few years and in the age of instant gratification people have like you and I have been mislead into the easy, monetised, and ineffective ways of meditation, guided meditations.
Passive vs. Active
The key difference between effective and ineffective meditation is wether its passive or active. Guided meditations are a very passive way of meditating, the directions are told in soothing voices with calming music in the background and therefore create a fake sense of being calm. Almost like a quick high you chase, a high that goes away just as quick as it came.
The harsh truth is that in passive meditation you follow directions and do as you’re told in a calming environment to reach a superficial calm. However that simply is the real world. The truth is we can’t have relaxing music, soothing voices, and positive thinking telling us what to do all the time especially when we feel our world is going to shit. Active meditation teaches you to achieve that calm even when it’s raining panic attacks and depression like a tropical storm. You learn to accept what comes and goes and how to deal with it. You learn to feel stress and not oppress or hold on to it (often leading to anxiety attacks or burnouts). Not oppressing the negative emotions lets you feel the positive ones more as well, because when you oppress emotions good or bad you oppress its counterpart as well.
So what’s active meditation then? Active meditation is meditating on your own. No directions from soothing voices and no relaxing music. It’s the birthday suit of meditation, as naked as can be. It’s active because it relies on you actively focusing on your breath and then returning focus yourself after distractions come up without being reminded by an outside voice. Within three weeks of active meditation my anxiety attacks stopped and now a year later I am on the verge of overcoming all my mental health issues. This shit is truly magical.
So what’s the technique?
The technique in and of itself is quite simple, but not easy. It involves closing your eyes and focusing on your nostrils. You observe the air flow in and out of your body. Basically you focus on your breath at one specific point, your nostrils. The more you meditate the stronger this “focus point” becomes. It’s the purest form of here and now because the focus point is always were you are physically and always in the current moment. You can never breath a future breath and never breath a past breath. Because of these reasons buddhist monks call this “their homes”. The stronger you make that focus point the more present you will be in your day to day life. Meaning it increases your self awareness, focus, causes better sleep, and most importantly a deep sense of calm that doesn’t go away in any situation.
How to start
Starting active meditation might seem very daunting but it isn’t. My first session was two and a half hours long including sitting, standing, and walking meditation (in a meditation group). Since you probably don’t have two and a half hours of time start small. Begin or end your day with a ten minute meditation. Grab a chair, some pillows to sit on, or simply lie down. Then relax your body and start to focus your energy on your nostrils and the sensations the air creates as it flows in and out of your nose. Every time you get distracted bring your focus back to your breath. The key is to be consistent try to meditate everyday for a week or two weeks. Thats how you really start to see results.
You will get distracted
Distraction is a big part of meditation. The assumptions is that meditation involves not thinking but that isn’t true at all. It’s impossible to not think it’s like the pink elephant rule. When you tell someone to not think of a pink elephant then they ironically can’t stop thinking about pink elephants. The truth is that thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations will occur no matter what and they’re not always pleasant. However you get distracted during your meditation bring your focus back to your breath, every time you do you have a small victory.
You will get frustrated
The first active meditation session I ever did was filled with moments where I was sweating profusely and filled with anger and frustration. Usually you shy away from such discomfort but with meditation you learn to distance yourself from these emotions and see them as temporary. When they arise again you can live parallel to these emotions meaning they will be present but they won’t control you. That in itself has unlimited power. You will be less reactive to the stimuli around you and start to see things as they really are.
It can be scary
If you started to meditate to better your mental health it can be very scary. When you meditate you face yourself, your thoughts, and your emotions in the most raw form. You can’t run away or seek distraction from yourself. But the truth is you can’t live your entire life a victim of your own mind. Your world will become as small as a prison cell and if you don’t face the demons guarding it then it will certainly become a life sentence. Resulting in your final years filled with regret and pain for not doing anything about it. So stop running away or seeking an easy way out because that doesn’t exist. When you meditate you run straight into your fears and emotions. They won’t kill you, as a matter a fact through meditation these emotions become thin and brittle and you’ll quickly rise above them.
Every person that I’ve met that uses active meditation has had their life changed by it. Not one of them regret simply sitting down and trying even though they’ve been frustrated and uncomfortable multiple times. They are more fulfilled, productive, and effective in every part of their lives. There’s not a single excuse you can use to stop yourself from trying. You’re always breathing and you certainly can make time for just a few minutes a day. In the absolute worst case you might waste 30 minutes of your time and feel a little uncomfortable. I truly hope that you try meditating in an active way, I am 100% sure it can help improve your life if you just keep trying. Happy breathing.
Tips and tricks
- To make the sensation of the air passing through stronger lightly squeeze your nostrils together to restrict the airflow a little bit. Then take 5 deep breaths. The sensations are strengthened because the air passes through faster than it otherwise would.
- Focus on the temperature of the air. Feel the air come in as cool dry air and the air coming out as hot and humid. It creates a greater distinction between your inhale and exhale making it easier to focus. Keep in mind that your environment influences the temperature of the air as well so the contrast won’t always be so strong.
- If your thoughts are going at hyperspeed than you can count your inhales and exhales or use phrases like “I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out” This well help quite your mind deepen your focus.
- Make your breath the most important thing in the entire world for the entire duration of your meditation. No upcoming chores or past quarrels. Just your breath here and now period.
- Start incorporating your focus point (nostrils) into your daily life. While you’re working, exercising, reading, cooking, etc. It will support the deep calm that you can carry throughout your day. That is when things really start to change