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Meditation & Inner Peace

So, in my first blog post I made reference to a more positive start to the year. I'm going to be brutally honest here...last year culminated in a six week long CBT course for me with our local Stress and Anxiety Service. I've had anxiety before, again, it happened after a prolonged period of very challenging events and it took me by surprise. I had no idea what was happening to me - heightened senses to the nth degree, no sleep, permanent butterflies etc. Fortunately, on that occasion, I was away with friends and one fried told me she thought I was in the middle of a full blown anxiety attack. She was right. It was the old fight or flight crisis management system in uproar. Thankfully on that occasion it passed within a few weeks and things slipped back to normal. So last year, both of my in laws passed away within 7 months of each other, and we had many crises in those 7 months. It got to whenever the phone rang, my stomach would drop, what had happened now? My father in law passed away peacefully in the end, but only after some very challenging weeks for my husband and his siblings, and of course it happened right in the middle of me exhibiting in Devon Open Studio's and my daughter taking her 11+ exam. After the funeral and thanksgiving service were over, my anxiety returned with a vengeance. Extreme paranoia (I managed to convince myself I had no friends), terror every time the phone rang, constant butterflies and worry over everything, heightened senses again, couldn't stop crying. In short, I felt a mess. My doctor recommended I go on anti depressants for a short time just to 'even things out' until I was back in control again. I was determined not to though. I referred myself to the Depression & Anxiety Clinic and decided to begin mediation again. This was something I'd done a lot of in my 20's and had in fact been doing guided meditations through my anxiety attack. These guided meditations helped to relax me - in fact, a few times I fell asleep, but crucially, it didn't stop the relentless voice in my head undermining me and making me question everything in a negative way. So, I decided to start 'properly' meditating again. No guided meditations, just me and my head. And, oh joy, what an instant relief. From the first day, when I managed about 5 minutes, that annoying voice virtually disappeared. Not totally, I'll admit, but my head was more quiet than it had been for several months. My CBT therapist calls this voice the poisoned parrot - a very apt name for it, a meditation book I've read calls it 'The Babbler'. Since then, I've meditated nearly every day and I really look forward to it now. It's peace time and that poisoned parrot has totally gone now. I feel more happy and at peace now than I have for ages. So, where am I going with this? I know, through having talked to friends, that I'm far from alone in suffering from anxiety. I want you to know that it's ok to talk about it, it's totally ok and advisable to go and ask for help in tackling it so it doesn't rule your life and that meditation can be a major antidote to anxiety symptoms, in particular, that poisoned parrot. So don't suffer in silence, don't think you're alone and don't think that you can't be helped, because you can. I'm going to leave you with one of my favorite blessings with a background image of the beautiful river Dart valley in autumnal colours...

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