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by Guest Author December 01, 2020 6 min read

Lex Stuart - Journeying through meditation resistance, reducing fear and finding awe. Utilising biohacking and practical tools.

I have always played around with how I can get the best out of myself through experimenting with diet and lifestyle. Through my studies, so many different modalities and ideas were thrown at me to play around with.

Still, every single day I get up it feels like groundhog day. I set my intentions for the day in a list and try to get to work. 

I was becoming progressively more and more tired of what I was faced with everyday.

 

Everyone around me seemingly, flourishingand all I could think was “Is this it?”.

 

Either everyone is lying or there's something I was missing. Every time I thought that there would be some sort of change that would make me feel that sense of awe that everyone else was feeling, using my will to push me into a state of bliss. Every time I was disappointed. 

How I Started with Meditation

I tried yoga, which would help me arrive at a certain state of bliss, exercise which definitely lifted my mood and energy. Everything still felt like I was walking uphill. Life was tiring and even these would fall by the wayside as it sometimes felt exhausting committing to these.

I had tried bouts of meditation saying I'll commit once a day, or only doing it when I had hit the tipping point of overwhelm but it was never enough and really only brought me back to a state of normality or I would find myself napping. 

woman meditating

Bless targeted ads: on January 5th an ad for a facebook meditation group came up. I couldn’t ignore it. Meditation was something I had always toyed with, with no success. So I jumped at the chance.

I joined the 5 day free challenge. The first days playing with breathwork and meditation, immediately noticing the difference. My meditation teacher took me through 5 different meditations within the week, changing meditations in an online class style setting suited me well. I felt committed to show up, as I had someone checking in.

Every month was a different theme, which allowed me to dive deep into some topics I had never even delved into - resistance, manifestation. After two years of meditating, working through some intense themes. I felt great, I felt I was who I needed to be, I had finally arrived. This was my missing piece.

Now I had found it. I never wanted to let it go. This feeling of bliss. Things were moving to me and if something horrible happened I felt ok to really feel into that and work through the feelings.

amygdala before and after meditation
Functional MRI (left) showing activation in the amygdala when participants were watching images with emotional content before learning meditation. After eight weeks of training in mindful attention meditation (right) note the amygdala is less activated after the meditation training. 

Image source: The Harvard Gazette

In meditation your amygdala (fear centre) shrinks in size. Fear had been a daily struggle, fear of the future, even my brain bringing up old past memories to make me feel horrible late at night. Now, I could shake these things off with ease. I was to never go back to how I was.

Meditation during stressful times

Then of course like everything. It ends. My meditation teacher had decided to move onto different things, the group was ending. This was my source of will and commitment for the last two years. It fed me what I needed at the time and now had been stripped away. As it grew to a close, I quickly tried to summon that same will within myself.

I wasn’t prepared, I fell off the wagon. I got back up again. Then the icing on the cake. I started a new job in shift work. I completely fell off. Not only meditation but everything. My only blessing, my sense of self awareness was still there.

I watched myself carefully, and when the time was right I knew when my limit was to move on from the job that was causing me inflammation, hormonal issues and a decline in my mental health.

 

Knowing when to leave is the smartest thing anyone can learn.- Burt Bacharach

 

Still having this sense of awareness, I was able to remain the observer through all of this. Whilst still having feelings of anxiety and fear. I knew what I needed, and was able to allow myself what I needed at the time. This allowed me to ensure I was sleeping enough.

Try these biohacks to reduce stress, anxiety and reactivity.

Meditation 101: Start Small

Another blessing through this time was my Oura ring. This allowed me to view what exactly was going on with my sleeping patterns through shift work and how it affected me even months after finishing shift work. My new focus was getting my body and brain back into a state of balance. Being aware of what I need at the time rather than pushing myself into hardcore exercise or meditation is key in my learning.

As I put on weight and felt exhausted. I tried out going to crossfit classes. This wasn’t right for my body at the time, only making me more depleted and fatigued.

 

The greatest self realisation was the trust that I needed to instill in myself, that I would take care of myself in my time of need.

 

I didn’t need to go big to bring back that commitment and discipline that I had once instilled.

I started small again, taking myself for a mindful barefoot walk every day. Even if just for 10 minutes. Finding that source of my why was crucial to restarting this journey, those moments of peace before the day begins.

Then, one day when I was listening to a podcast the host was speaking about the muse headband. I had considered this before but with the group already giving me the commitment I needed I decided against. I decided to invest and see where it could take me. 

It supported me to show up for myself. Seeing myself have a streak of days in a row, seeing the results at the end, gave me a self of accomplishment. Allowing me to choose how I wanted to meditate but instil a strong sense of motivation. I teamed this with journaling to simulate the different themes and learning through the meditation group, noticing that in life themes still come up to move through and learn from.

 

The strong fear of letting the practise go right at the beginning in itself was a deep attachment that I had to learn to let go of. A security blanket that I did not actually need. Finding that inner peace in moments when I could not find the time to meditate. I had instilled a discipline within myself, that was helpful but had to learn to be ok with allowing myself to rest or fall off the wagon. It is not always the right time to instil hardline discipline with self. 

What My Meditation Journey Has Taught Me

  • The lesson as with everything is trust the process.
  • There will never be a golden ticket to anything.
  • Everything worth having takes work.
  • I like to view meditation as a relationship and it will not work without change and communication with self. 
  • Like anything, always shift and change things up if you start to get tired of what you are doing.
  • Trusting and sitting with what comes to me allows me to be my own teacher.

Knowing if things get too tough there is a well of deep knowing within me, I can find joy and bring myself back to that. It can be so hard when you are on the other side but having the experience of that lets me.

Some practical tips I have learnt through my journey:

  • A small practice is still worthwhile - sitting and connecting with self is the intention of my practice. Even 6 deep breaths - same count for inhale as exhale. Is enough to bring you back to self and change your state of mind.

  • Meditate first thing in the morning - it  not only sets the intent and state of mind for the day to improve mood and concentration. As we are closer to sleep it is easier to focus in the meditation as we are in alpha or theta state as our body takes time to move through these and wake up. Setting a similar time every day also helps to form a habit. 

  • Apps and tracking helps to instil a habit - I use my muse and Oura ring to help track my progress and they help me without others to keep accountable. 

Guest Author
Guest Author

This article was contributed by a guest author with expert knowledge in their field.



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