Updated: Nov 15, 2021
My mind was my worst enemy. It was always holding me hostage, keeping me in dread of what may happen—making me worry about everything.
My mind was a terrible place to live. Perhaps it was damaged. I don't know, but it's better now.
Meditation changes me. It changes my mind for the better. Meditation is the habitual practice of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. I first tried to meditate in 2012. It was awkward. I had crushing anxiety. Doctors found Lymphoma in my chest, head and neck. The stress was driving me nuts. I read about meditation and how it can reduce stress, so I sat down to try it. Closing my eyes, I sat on the floor. My mind was racing. It seemed the more I tried to quiet my thoughts, the more they raced. I couldn't stop thinking. I thought meditation is impossible for me. I kept trying each day. I sat and closed my eyes and intentionally tried to meditate each day for 10 minutes. Most of the time, it was less than 10 minutes before I quit. It seemed like an eternity to try and be calm for just a few minutes.
I started to notice that I felt just a little better each time after meditation. The stress vibrations I was reacting to began to chill out. In the body, stress causes an increase in cortisol, which is a stress hormone that releases inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. I had a run-in with cytokines from a cancer treatment I endured in the hospital, but that's another story. These are bad boys, causing depression, anxiety, increased blood pressure, disrupted sleep patterns, elevated body temperature, fatigue, anemia, clouded thinking, and more. My research and the research of the scientific community have proven that meditation reduces the cytokine response, which reduces inflammation, reducing all the ailments mentioned above along with other benefits.
With continued practice, I learned to quiet my mind during meditation. During quiet time, as I call it, there is a stillness that can strip your ego down to its core. I felt a natural progression towards self-awareness, which is something that was eluding me. Mindfulness began to set in. Mindfulness is where you are focused on the here and now. Your mind becomes clear. Before I learned to meditate, a lot of my mental energy was scattered and fragmented. I thought if I could just put away the scary stuff and bring the joy and reduce the fear, I'll be good. That's what meditation does for me.
Greater self-awareness of my mental and physical habits began to set in, which gave me a greater belief in myself and my ability to overcome challenges. A kindness, a real feeling of empathy, began to emerge during meditation. It made me cry. Emotions of love for myself and others swelled suddenly. Studies of people meditating have proven that meditating three times a week improved positive emotions, interpersonal interactions, and understanding of self and others.
Meditation improved my sleep tremendously. I had been struggling with insomnia because my racing thoughts wouldn't stop at night. I had tried sleeping pills, but they had the opposite effect on me. They caused sleeplessness; it was crazy. The quiet time I had developed sta