‘You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour’
These past few weeks I have been trying to find a new method to deal with anxiety/stress. I’ve been testing a variety of different suggestions as well as researching possible new ones to consider. I thought I would run through the three main ones I have tried and let you know how helpful they have/ haven’t been:
When I first tried acupuncture I wasn’t entirely convinced that it did anything; I thought, perhaps, it was a placebo effect and someone was sticking needles in me for no reason. However after trying it for 6+ weeks now, I have to say I definitely have noticed a difference, especially immediately after the sessions.
I mainly have it done in my ears and on my head, which sounds terrifying at first, but trust me- it’s not! After having gone to 10 + sessions of it, I’ve just gotten used to it. In fact, some of them can be quite relaxing- which is a completely strange feeling, considering I’ve been terrified of needles for as long as I can remember.
Before starting acupuncture I wasn’t aware of its history, uses or popularity. It’s just after researching it that I have become aware of how useful it is as well as how essential it is to some people’s lives. I was shocked to see how many acupuncture points there are on the ear alone never mind the entire body:
Acupuncture derives from Chinese medicine and it is their belief that each part of the body is connected to another and by putting needles into it you can relieve said other part. For example if you were suffering from a cold they could put a needle in the part of the ear labelled 23 (on the diagram above) and that should help to give some relief to the lungs and therefore help with your cold symptoms.
Although I think it is something that is useful for my anxiety, it is something that I had to have multiple times before I found there was a great effect (most likely due to the fact that I was concentrating on the needle part too much.) But once I got over that, I did find that I was immediately relaxed. So if anyone is wanting to try it, I would suggest giving it a chance for a few sessions and don’t just give up if it’s not working after just one or two.
I have to be honest here; hypnotherapy is something that I haven’t tried in the last few weeks but rather approximately 6 months ago. However, I did think it was a method of relaxation that is not commonly discussed and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to talk about it and its effects.
I did 4 sessions of hypnotherapy and have to say my reaction is very mixed. The first couple of times I went, I felt very relaxed but didn’t think I had been hypnotised. Although it is impossible to tell because that is the whole point of hypnotherapy, for the hypnotist’s suggestions to just naturally come into your life. I did think the third time something might have happened because I felt odd when I ‘woke up,’ but again I can’t be sure, I could have just been quite sleepy. The fourth time for me was the most effective as it made me feel the most relaxed. Although I’m not sure if this is good reflection on how the hypnotherapy actually was but rather how calming the hypnotist’s voice was.
Overall, even though I don’t think it had much of an effect on me, I know it helps thousands of people around the world, so it is always worth giving it a go if you know you are susceptible to that sort of thing/ like the idea of it.
For me, personally, meditation was the method I was the most sceptical about yet have found the best results from it. I have to admit (like with the other two methods) I didn’t really feel anything the first few times I did it- I just felt like I was closing my eyes and just daydreaming about nothing. But after doing it 3/4 times a week for 6 weeks, I felt myself gradually getting into that meditative state that everyone talks about. For me, it was quite scary. It was a feeling I’d never felt before and if I’m honest I found it truly terrifying. The first few times I managed to get into it, I woke myself out of it because I found it too overwhelming. Eventually, after doing a lot of research, I decided to just go with it to try and see what happens and once you get past the initial overwhelming feeling, it becomes incredibly relaxing. I usually do it for about half an hour at a time and find that I am really refreshed after it, sort of like giving your mind a rest for a while, so it can calm down. And contrary to popular belief you don’t have to be sat in the famous lotus position to meditate- many people just do this to maintain the right posture (you’re not supposed to have a slouched back when meditating as it can, apparently, lead to your mind wandering.)
The more research I did into meditation, the more interested I got. I was fascinated to learn it had been around since at least 5000 BC (this was the first known recording of it.) To me, its incredible longevity just proves that it actually works and is doing something to calm down the brain. I mean, if people have been using it for over 7000 years, surely something is right. I also found out how popular it is with the majority of Asia. I already knew it was big because of its association with Buddhism but I didn’t quite understand how big it actually was. It is so imprinted into the routine of many in south East Asia, that it is common practice to have a ‘meditation break’ in their workplace. It is believed that meditation helps both the physical body and the mind- it is even said to help the immune system!
I was also surprised at how many celebrities practice meditation on a daily basis. I thought I would include some quotes from a few to give more insight on the effects that it has on people. I struggled to narrow these quotes down as there are so many celebrities who do it and I wanted to include as many as possible:
“In moments of madness, meditation has helped me find moments of serenity”- Sir Paul McCartney
“After your morning stretch — which everyone should do — meditate. You don’t need to be able to levitate. You can just do it for 30 seconds. I leave my body and look at myself, like, ‘Ru, what do you want to do today?’ And I say, ‘Let’s do something.”- Rupaul
“Meditation is helping you to tap into something that’s already inside of you… that’s you, in essence. That’s something that was super-empowering for me once I grasped that.”- Cameron Diaz
“Now I meditate twice a day for half an hour. In meditation, I can let go of everything. I’m not Hugh Jackman. I’m not a dad. I’m not a husband. I’m just dipping into that powerful source that creates everything. I take a little bath in it.”- Hugh Jackman
“The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.”- Confucius
“Twenty minutes, you just notice the difference! When I get lazy and don’t get it in, I can feel a difference in the day. So I try to meditate first thing when I wake up.” Jennifer Aniston
“I meditate before going onstage – it helps me focus.”- Harry Styles
“The personal experiences that I learned from meditation have helped to change the way I live my life by modifying my perception of myself and of others.”- Keanu Reeves
“Meditation was a turning point for me. It helped me deal with a lot of stress and has given me a lot of relaxation.”- Mike Love
“I meditate every day. I do it in the mornings for about 10 to 15 minutes. I think it’s important because it sets me up for the rest of the day.” – Kobe Bryant
“If every 8-year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” – Dalai Lama
These are just a handful of hundreds of quotes from celebrities from now and throughout history that support and endorse the use of meditation within daily life. I find it all incredibly inspiring and I hope you do too!
I thought I would end with a favourite meditation quote of mine:
Buddha was asked, “What have you gained from meditation?” He replied, “Nothing! However, let me tell you what I have lost: anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.”
Thank you for reading,
Once again here’s the link to the National Tremor Foundation: