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Episode 28: Finally - Meditation that Worked for Me

Transcript:

[00:00:00] For this morning's podcast, I'm going to do something a little bit different. Instead of being in my office, I am currently in my closet. And what I want to talk to you about today is how I deal with big amounts of emotion. I don't know whether I am the only person who feels this. My guess is I'm not.

[00:00:27] But over the years, I have been able to recognize a pattern that I get into that causes me a lot of anxiety and I've figured a way to get out of it. This recognition of what was going on started when I was maybe a year and a half post-divorce, and I could not figure out why I was constantly getting so confused by my own emotions. And I went to a woman who, you know, deals with stuff like this. Not a therapist. It's a little woo woo. But she anyway, I won't get too into who she was or what she did unless you really want to know.

[00:01:10] She helped me to recognize my pattern of being overwhelmed by my own emotions. I didn't know how to identify what they were, and so I would look to other people to save me from myself. And that had the effect of my entering a marriage in which my husband was constantly telling me what to do. And because I didn't know what I wanted, I just did what he said. Not super helpful, not super healthy, and really not putting me in a place where I could be healthy and, you know, raise a healthy kid.

[00:01:50] So over time, I started to recognize that I would feel really, really strong emotions and I wouldn't understand what they were. I didn't know whether I was feeling mad or sad or bad or glad. I just felt overwhelmed. And I hated the feeling.

[00:02:13] In an attempt to get rid of the feeling, I would go into my brain and start to analyze it. And I couldn't make any sense out of what was happening, so the emotions would get bigger and I would get confused and then I would get anxious and I would have no idea what was happening. And it was a really bad cycle, because then once I was even more overwhelmed, I would keep trying to analyze it and I would just go down this spiral of horror that never seemed to solve any of my problems.

[00:02:50] So over time, I realized I needed to figure out how to break the cycle.

[00:02:57] At the time that I was trying to figure this out, I had a girlfriend that was also trying to figure this out. And we were just like, "how do we get out of the cycle? I get that it's bad, but what do we do?"

[00:03:11] And the answer is that you have to break the cycle by just stepping out of it. In the beginning, the cycle can be unconscious. And so we're doing it and we don't even realize we're doing it. So the first thing you have to do is recognize that you're even doing it in order to step out of it.

[00:03:30] But once you realize that you're down this rabbit hole, spinning out of control, overwhelmed by your emotions and having absolutely no idea what's going on, you step out of it by interrupting it.

[00:03:44] The way that I have found to do that is by first, taking the dog for a walk. And the reason why that works for me is being outside, and for me just watching the dog. She's really interested in the world around her. Sometimes she gets the scent of something and then she goes off after it. And that just has a way of bringing me into the moment, the "right now" of watching her and being like, "huh, I wonder what she smells." And then I notice the trees. And then I'm just very much in the moment - like what the weather is like and what my body is feeling. And so that kind of interrupts it a little bit.

[00:04:23] So first I go for the walk, then second, I drink a bunch of water.

[00:04:27] And then third, I do a grounding meditation. And I know that many people have tried and hated meditation or just are tired of hearing about it. Everybody is talking about meditation and mindfulness and all this stuff. And I will tell you, I tried for years to do meditation, and it just I was like, "my brain does not work this way." I just watched it bounce around and make me miserable, until I realized I was just putting too much pressure on myself to do it "right."

[00:05:04] What has worked for me is just not thinking about meditation in the way that other people have talked about meditation, where you're just watching your thoughts go by or you're trying to focus on one single thing. None of that worked for me.

[00:05:24] For me, what works is this: I sit in my closet, which is where I am now, and why I got inspired to share this with you, because this is what was going on with me this morning. And so I sit in my closet and I'm cross-legged on the ground and I feel my butt on the ground. I feel my legs on the ground. Usually I will light some sage — and I know that sounds super woo. You don't have to do that. But for me, again, like watching the dog, it's not so much about cleansing the energy of the air (although, you know, let's be real, it IS like that for me), but it's also about having a scent, something that brings me into this present moment. There's a smell every time I start doing this.

[00:06:16] And so it doesn't have to be sage for you. It could be a candle, it could be incense, it could be anything. I just really like the smell of sage. So I light some sage. I let that smell move around me. And then I just kind of concentrate on what breathing feels like in my body.

[00:06:35] And I'm not thinking about my emotions when something comes up. I kind of notice it in my body, but I don't give it any attention. And to do that, I'm not *working hard.* It's actually the opposite of that. It's just like, instead of going into the effort of noticing it and trying to let go of it, I'm just like, oh, there it is again. OK, so I'm going to go back to thinking about my breathing and I just notice where that breath is in my body.

[00:07:05] And then I start to imagine that breath, instead of just being in my chest or in my stomach, I try to imagine it going down further in my body. And then I imagine that my breath is light and I can see it in my mind's eye. I see it as I breathe, just going further down. My closet is on the second floor of our house. And so I imagine my bright white breath, every time I exhale, it goes further down, so it goes down through my butt into the carpet and then into the subfloor, and then it goes down through the kitchen, which is right below my closet. And then it goes down through the hardwood flooring in the kitchen and down through the subfloor and down into the hard cold ground.

[00:07:58] And then it goes deeper and deeper and deeper until it reaches the center of the earth.

[00:08:05] And then I just kind of imagine my breath going up and down, up and down, all the way down into the into the center of the earth.

[00:08:16] Then, when I breathe, the light comes up from the center of Earth and it goes all the way through my body. And I just do that over and over and over again until I start to feel really calm.

[00:08:27] And then, while I have my eyes closed, I tip my head back until I can kind of see the light from the closet through my eyelids. And then I imagine that light from the from the center of the earth coming up. And it's going out through the top of my head. And I can kind of see it because I can see the light of the closet above my head. So it's going out through the top of my head, and it is going up into the sky.

[00:08:56] And so if you imagine it like what I would look like, it would look like a person who is has a beam of light coming down through the sky, through the top of her head, all the way down to the center of her body, down through the ground, into the center of the earth, and I just feel that. And by the time I'm done with this meditation and imagining this, I feel so much more calm.

[00:09:27] And I also usually realize whatever those emotions were, they aren't there anymore, and in some cases when I'm in the process of doing this, I will notice what the feelings are. So like when I feel my body on the ground in the very beginning and I start to breathe, I start to notice, "oh, wow, I feel really sad." And instead of trying to figure out WHY I feel sad, I will cry or I'll do whatever I need to do in that moment.

[00:10:06] And usually that gets me to a place where I either recognize that something is not right — like if I am day after day in the closet feeling sad, you know, something's probably not right. Or I just realize our emotions kind of come and go, and they flow through us and sometimes they aren't there for a reason. Sometimes something sparks them.

[00:10:37] For me I just feel it, and then I let go of it and recognize that it's really not that important and it doesn't have to rule my whole day. This can be really freeing.

[00:10:49] So I don't know if anybody else goes through these horrible cycles of like deep emotion, and then analysis, but I hope that this will help you get out of it, if you do.

[00:11:03] So, let me know on Instagram or via email — I'm @mightyandbrightco — if this has helped you or if you have a different method to get out of this mess. Thanks so much.

Sara Olsher

Sara Olsher

Sara Olsher is the Founder + CEO of Mighty + Bright. She's a young cancer survivor, mom, and former single mom.

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