Quieting the chatter in my head has always been a challenge, especially when it's time to sleep. My thoughts seem to run endlessly, just like the Energizer Bunny. To help with relaxation, I've made it a habit to use my sauna almost daily, and my love for books keeps me engrossed in reading for extended periods. But despite those and various other recommended techniques like exercise and quiet time, I still find it hard to relax.
Persistent Stress Abounds
Being a business owner comes with its own set of stressors, which I've grown accustomed to over the past 13 years. However, personal stress has also been piling up. My father-in-law's unexpected passing in March placed a significant responsibility on my husband and our family to care for his mother. Additionally, I have co-guardianship over my mentally ill mother, my father faced hospitalization earlier this summer, and recently I've been dealing with my own health issues. To top it all off, we are in the throes of several home improvement projects.
With everything going on, the constant chatter in my head has been overwhelming. After trying (and pretty much failing at) meditation in the past, I decided to give it another shot after my therapist encouraged it. She suggested that I look for 5-minute guided meditation sessions on YouTube. Despite previous difficulties with meditation, I committed to trying this technique on a daily basis to see if it might help.
Success at Last
Surprisingly, it's working. I can't pinpoint exactly what aspect of meditation is making the difference — whether it's the focused breathing, moments of gratitude, or simply being present — but I do feel a newfound sense of calm.
Also, I've revisited one of my favorite personal growth books, Zen and the Art of Happiness. In that book, there's a powerful quote from Buddhist leader Thich Nhat Hanh that struck a chord with me: "Meditation is not an escape from life… but preparation for really being in life." This single sentence has transformed my perception of meditation; now I understand that it's vital for my day-to-day survival, preparing me to face whatever comes my way.
The book also shares insights from Alan Watts, who compares living from our center to practicing martial arts. Watts advises, "Stay always in the center position, and stay always here." By doing so, we become ready to respond to whatever life throws at us. This concept has helped me remain committed to my meditation practice, as it keeps me centered and prepared for any situation.
If you've never tried meditation, or if you have but it hasn’t worked for you, I highly recommend giving it another chance. Just five minutes a day is all you need to start. If your mind wanders (which tends to happen for a lot of people), gently bring your focus back to your breath. It may take some time to train your mind to concentrate, but once you master it, you'll likely experience the same sense of calm and centeredness that I've found. Meditation truly is a powerful tool for staying grounded and ready to face life's challenges.
What tools and techniques do you use to manage stress amid chaos? Have you tried meditation? I’d love to hear about your experience with it!