I Got Anxiety Trying to Meditate

I Got Anxiety Trying to Meditate

My heart felt like it was beating faster and somewhat irregularly. My breath was short and I felt like I was suffocating. I noticed every area of discomfort in my body. The irony is that I was trying to get the exact opposite result.

I was actually trying to meditate and calm myself down.

I lead a rather busy and stressful life, at least from my perspective. I’m a new-ish father with a 1-year-old. I have a full-time job that lets me work remotely – which can be a blessing and a curse. And I’m fairly involved in my church community.

This results in full days where I go from one thing to the next and my mind is constantly racing. I wake up (usually to the cries of my baby) with thoughts flooding my brain. And I go to sleep with those thoughts jumping around in my head all vying for attention.

So I decided to start meditating. The idea actually came from my life insurance company which lowers my premium if I do, but that’s for another blog post.

I downloaded an app called Headspace which provides guided mediation. The purpose of it is to develop the practice of being able to clear your mind of thoughts and focus on one thing. It’s supposed to be a good way to start your day, as well as develop the skill to calm your mind when things get hectic.

So I set my alarm to wake up a little earlier, before my baby wakes up, so I can get in a meditation session. I open my Headspace app and start the session.

Each session starts with the same basic routine.

Deep breaths… in and out.

Close your eyes.

Notice the all the sound around you.

Do a scan of your body, noticing how everything feels.

Clear your mind and focus on your breathing.

If your mind wanders, try to to bring it back to focus.

Oddly, I found it extremely difficult to sit still and think of nothing. I noticed how quickly my mind would dart off into the day. Bringing it back and keeping it still was more of a struggle than I thought. And as if my brain were punishing me for not letting it wander, discomfort started spreading through my body.

I noticed every ache and itch in my body, and sitting comfortably suddenly became very uncomfortable. Parts of my limbs would become fuzzy and numb. I started feeling nauseous, in a claustrophobic way, even though I sitting in a large room with my eyes closed. I felt like I was suffocating, and my breathing got really fast as I struggled to get in air.

Is meditating supposed to be traumatic?

Well, I eventually made it through the 10-minute session. Sure, I was a more stressed than going in. But I think it revealed how busy my mind is that I can’t even be still for 10 minutes.

I try to meditate every morning, though I usually only make it a couple times a week. But it gets easier. I’m able to be calm for longer. I start looking forward to those times of stillness.

I don’t think it’s bad to be busy. I believe in a full and productive life. But scattered chaos in our minds can often work against what we’re trying to achieve. Stillness can bring clarity. Clarity can bring focus. And focus can help us do more, and better.

I’ll keep meditating and see if improvements come in the future months.

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