I stumbled accidentally into meditation as I desperately looked for something that would help me regain control of my mind after some intense postpartum anxiety. I'm no guru, but 5-15 minutes a day of meditation for less than a year has radically realigned my mental and emotional state.
My daughter was born in the middle of my last semester of college. I went into part-time work right after I graduated, which was soon bumped to full-time work. Six months later, I suddenly quit that job, expecting to find another that would suit our family better. But I didn't. I applied to jobs and interviewed actively for about three months before I realized I was a stay-at-home-mom and there was no end in sight.
My daughter was about 8 months old when I quit. At first I was excited to enjoy a few weeks with my baby before starting work again. As the weeks turned to months and the permanence set in, I found myself shockingly and fully lost in significant paranoia.
The symptoms of my postpartum anxiety (it's not my story, but read more about postpartum anxiety here) had been held at bay while I was working, but with the sudden and deafening silence of my house in a new town, I was at the mercy of my imagination. I saw a doctor about it, who diagnosed me and prescribed me medication. In my case, medication wasn't a good fit (it is for so many people though! not against it at all), so I kept looking for help that fit me.
Fast forward many desperate months, sleepless nights, and endless crying, I stumbled on meditation. It was pitched to me as a quick, very effective habit that I could start with no skills and no money. All I needed was to wake up a few minutes before my kiddo and breathe until my timer went off.
What did I do? Sit with my back straight and supported, closed my eyes, and thought about my breath. In, out. In, out. When I found myself thinking about something else, I'd focus back on the in and out of my breathing. That's it. I started with just one minute, then 5, now I'm up to 15 minutes (well, 10 and thinking "is it over yet?" for the other 5).
Within a few months of near-consistent meditation, my mind was my own again. Of course it wasn't just meditation, I was eating healthier, exercising almost every day, and put real effort into making new friends.
To my surprise, the effects of meditation integrated so fully into my body that I would realize I was focusing on my breath before I noticed I felt stressed. The anxiety became much less frequent, and wouldn't consume me anymore when it did come. I could accept it was there and that it would end. Meditation helped me not only return to "normal", but elevate what my normal was.
Written by: Kelsie Hasleton