"The mind is everything. What you think, you become."
Have you ever been overwhelmed with responsibilities? Felt like your mind is constantly racing and you just can’t seem to slow it down? Do you worry about the past or future, and forget to live in the present?
If no one were to acknowledge you, could you acknowledge yourself?
I am a paramedic recently diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety. When I first went off work and was diagnosed, I felt undesirable, angry, lonely, and ashamed. The days dragged on, and no matter how many psychologist appointments I went through, I still felt stuck and increasingly frustrated with myself. It wasn’t until I discovered self-healing through yoga and meditation when I finally started to see my progress for what it was: progress.
Meditation is the practice of self-awareness, self-compassion, and tranquility. It allows oneself to train the brain to understand and process emotions with a clear and calm mind, as opposed to an irrational fight or flight reflex. The stability in your mind that meditation provides you with allows you to live and focus on what matters most in life, and let go of negative thoughts that loom from the past or any anxieties about the future.
For me personally, I felt shame about my mental health. I was scared for others to find out what was going on. I worried what others would think about me. I was angry at myself. I was angry at others. My emotions consumed me. My thoughts were killing me.
I was insecure in my own body and mind.
I was engulfed with self-hatred.
And then, a local yoga studio reopened after lockdown restrictions were lifted.
The first time I tried to meditate, I was frustrated because my mind was wandering and I thought this meant I wasn’t meditating properly. However, a wandering mind during meditation is expected and human. In fact, it is beneficial. Every time your mind wanders during meditation, and you bring it back to the breath, the present moment, that is a “rep” for your brain. With each rep, the impulse control of your brain, the prefrontal cortex, strengthens. Every thought and feeling you experience while meditating is part of the process and teaches you how to sit with your mind, body and soul.
In time, your suffering will no longer control or consume you.
Yoga is a form of meditation using movements and stretches where you practice uniting your mind and body by using your breath. Bringing your mind to the breath allows you to be in the present as you are. Yoga has taught me what matters most to me in my life, to love myself as I am, and how to process tough emotions.
The most valuable benefit that yoga has taught me is the importance of living in the present, letting go of the past, and accepting the beautiful uncertainties of the future.
When I started practicing yoga daily at my local studio, there was a shift in the way I sat with my suffering. Not long after starting yoga, the darkest parts of my mind began to transition into a tool for growth, as opposed to a heavy weight I once carried with me every day. Yoga allowed me to be present with my breath through deep movements of my body, which allowed me the tools to lift the veil of the darkest parts of my mind and fall in love with who I am today.
Finding yourself through meditative practices, whether it be through walking, eating, driving, yoga or any other method, will help you heal and discover that although suffering hurts, it is an essential tool for growth, and therefore it is not something to run from.
Your thoughts don’t have to drown you.
Your emotions are not here to harm you.
If you allow your mind and body to sit with your thoughts and emotions, instead of suppressing or ignoring them, you can live your life free from suffering. Sure, the process might be painful, but in the end, you will unveil the calm, loving, and accepting mind that has always been within you. The love inside you is infinite and has always been available for you to access. The process of retrieving the boundless love within you is liberating. Once you are free from your suffering, you will have unlimited access to that unconditional love inside you.
Every day is an opportunity to grow. I am still growing, and I will continue to grow.
Meditation through yoga has healed me and lifted my suffering, resulting in the unveiling of a profound love for myself, my life, my pain, my happiness, and all the people around me.