Tag: personal journey

Între doua lumi

Între doua lumi

Demult nu m-a mai prins o carte pana la ore târzii din noapte, așa cum a făcut-o “Între doua lumi” – de Suleika Jaouad.

Este povestea unei femei care, la 22 de ani, este diagnosticata cu o forma gravă de leucemie, și povestea vieții ei din acel moment – sau mai degrabă, lupta ei.

Am empatizat cu ea, deoarece la rândul meu, într-un anumit moment al vieții mele, am trecut prin aceleași stări – și multe altele, de multe ori, rămase mute în interior, neexprimate așa cum ar fi trebuit. Problema e ca la momentul respectiv, nu aveam cunoștințele și experiența de viață de acum, care sa mă ghideze, sa mă facă sa le conștientizez și sa le gestionez într-un mod sănătos.

Cam așa este și cu Suleika – este o carte despre suferință, neputința, pierderi, dar și despre speranță, compasiune, iubire – despre evoluție, dar și cădere.

O carte scrisă cu sinceritate, fără coafari și alte cosmetizări ale adevărului.

Cred ca tocmai asta m-a ținut captivă – voiam sa văd ce mai urmează.

Am urmarit și discursul ei în cadrul unui eveniment Ted, însă cumva, nu m-a impresionat așa de mult cum a făcut-o cartea.

Ca si cum, văzând-o povestind în carne și oase, nu părea la fel de profunda ca în carte, în plăsmuirea imaginației mele.

Oricum ar fi, este o carte care merita citită, din punctul meu de vedere – cu siguranță nu este o pierdere de vreme. Iti poate da o perspectiva noua.


Meditation, or how it changed my life

Meditation, or how it changed my life

Nowadays everyone is talking about meditation – all the more so given the current pandemic, where mental health is on everyone’s agenda more than before.

I came across the concept of meditation some years ago – at the time, I was thinking: “Yeah, sure, yet another buzzword, just like kale or whatever” – I didn’t think it could work in my case, to be honest I thought it was just a waste of time.

Also, I really didn’t believe either that I could just “stop” my stream of thoughts – and that the battle was lost even before it was started. I tried at some point to meditate, but I was not able to be present in the moment – I just had too much going on in my mind at the time. I even tried looking at a candle’s light (that is supposed to help, to have a fixed point to look at), maybe it worked for some seconds or so, but not for too long a time.

So I just tossed the whole “meditation” thing aside and moved on with my life.

Then, at one of my previous workplaces, there was this workshop on meditation – and I decided to give it another try.

I must admit I found it more interesting and approachable – the trainer helped, in that she told us about the “myths” related to meditation, in that you cannot “stop” your thoughts – and you should not even try. That was good, I thought, at least it’s something I could work with and helped to reduce some of the pressure.

Then, I also liked about that particular session that we focused on our breathing, and all the bodily sensations – how our body felt against the chair, our soles on the ground, the temperature in the room, the outside noises, how not to pay too much attention to any distractions or sensations, like itching – it was like a “heightening of senses” experience. Which, again, I very much enjoyed.

Then some time passed and I completely forgot about meditation – I liked that first session, but did not actively seek it afterwards.

People were talking about the apps they were using and that some other more “mundane” activities could also be considered some sort of meditation experience – for instance, cleaning, as a means of focusing on house chores, which can help with acquiring a sense of control and is anxiety reducing. I can say that indeed, for me this works as well, when I wash the dishes.

And forward to the more “present” moment – really appreciate the wordplay here! – I think what also counted a lot in my personal journey with meditation were two things:

Firstly, reconnecting with nature, spending more time outdoors, hiking, just listening to the birds, the tree leaves, walking in the forest – when you truly connect with nature, it’s a truly awesome experience! It’s almost like a revelation! You suddenly feel connected to the universe, to something greater than you, to infinite energy – and that can be summed up as life, or happiness, I believe. I spoke with some other friends as well and they all confirmed that indeed, spending time in nature, observing, is such an awesome meditation experience for them! I cannot agree more! And plus, it helps so much with clearing your head – especially during walks – or “forcing” you to be present – as when hiking.

Secondly, I read almost all of Eckhart Tolle’s books – and they are all about learning to be present – and that is the only moment that matters, and the only way to achieve peace and true inner happiness. It’s quite easy reading, easy to follow, but nevertheless, highly spiritual and wise.

So finally, I decided to try meditation when it was offered as a benefit at the company I am currently working at – 3 months trial. An acquaintance actually joked about this, something like “Why do you need 3 months trial ? Is your job that difficult?”. Funny indeed.

Meditopia is the app – and I must say I am crazy about it! I recommended it to everyone, really – friends, family, colleagues!

I was reading previously on some blogs that I am following about some people using meditation apps and about the sleep stories – and I was curious about trying that.

So I started using the app in February and by now, I am meditating daily! I started indeed with the sleep stories – and there are a lot of stories, told so beautifully, it’s almost magical! It really introduces you into a calming, magical, spiritual atmosphere. And there are also sleep stories for children, which I believe it’s truly interesting, as it introduces them to the meditation practice, and also enhances their imagination – and plus, children love stories, in whatever form they may come!

Then I tried nature sounds – oceans and birds chirping, fireplace sounds, the universe, the moon, the earth, rain and thunder. My favourites so far are universe sounds and rain – rain particularly has such a calming effect on me!

And then I moved on to the actual meditation practice – I started small, with 2-3 minutes meditation, then extended to 10, 15, 20 and 20+ minutes.

There are a lot of forms of meditation – less guided meditation, where you can experiment more with how you approach meditation; meditation focused on different themes (compassion, focus, gratitude, anxiety, self confidence, self love, acceptance, etc); short meditation practices, such as for 2-3 minutes or small breaks; sleep meditation practices and techniques; meditation based on your current mood and feelings.

Some common points in the meditation practice: focus on breathing and different breathing techniques (these also help anchoring you in the present); body scan to identify any tension in your body or just to examine how you feel at that moment; reflecting on your emotions – current and also past; and in some meditation practices you may also use visualisation as a technique for enhancing the experience.

It’s better to start small and not put too much pressure on yourself just from the start – take it easy and in time, it will all fall into place. But don’t practise it too sporadically either. Meditation is for the mind just as sport is for your body – you need to practise it daily, to exercise your muscles and see continuous effects. And speaking of sport, I can say meditation also helps with your fitness motivation, in that you are more likely to be getting active. So that is yet another benefit of it.

What I also like is the “inspiration” section, where you can find daily doses of inspiration – which provides more insights into feelings and also suggests different approaches to understanding and managing them, or just, make you consider a different way of thinking. Good food for thought, so to speak.

Other nice features: you can save meditation programs and music in a sort of personal library, for watching later; what contributes to a sense of belonging and inclusion is that you can know, at any given time, how many other different people are meditating with you – for example, 14179 people are meditating right now.

The profile part is also interesting, as there is where all of your personal progress is tracked – you have the mindful meter, which increases each day you meditate; session count; number of mindful minutes; badges, for when you meditate for multiple consecutive days, or for being a note taker or music listener (yes, you can also take notes after each meditation, and also share your experience on social media); you can also see your history (in multiple views – per week, month, year, etc), your journey (a more detailed view of your meditations).

We have talked a lot about the app and its features – but now, let’s consider the benefits of meditation.

Personally, since I started meditating, I can now say it has a tremendous effect on your mind and overall mood and energy.

I feel much calmer and peaceful, happier, less critical (of myself and others), less judgemental, more compassionate (of myself and others), much more focused, more motivated (even when it comes to approaching less pleasant tasks), more self confident, more patient, I sleep better and fall asleep much faster (and wake up feeling much more refreshed and energetic). And I feel much more connected to my feelings and emotions, and to nature and the universe.

For me, meditation is now part of my life, not just a buzzword – I incorporated it into my life and I cannot wait every day to find a moment to meditate, even (or especially) during busy days. I’ve been meditating for more than a month now every day and so it has become a habit.

Why did I say I wish I practised it earlier in my life ?

Because it’s amazing how fast you can experience its effects and benefits and how it contributes to a more balanced life and overall mood. In the past, I used to have a more negative mindset, focus only on the problems and not the solutions, I used to be more impatient when it came to wanting something, much more anxious and had negative thought patters. I had trouble with my sleep and my mind wouldn’t ever stop running. If I knew the effect of meditation, I would have started practising it earlier to cope with these personal limitations and understand (and accept) myself and my emotions much more easily.

But I am glad I discovered and embraced it anyway – better late than never. Now I am sure I will never give up on it.