MS: The Path to Enlightenment

I had toyed with the idea of starting meditation well before my MS diagnosis. Meditation seemed sort of appealing. A nice, quiet, half an hour to just sit and think about nothing. A time of peace and reflection.  Checking out the benefits online aroused my interest even more. Good health, success, the ability to mind read (ok, I made that one up), all possible with daily meditation.

What’s not to like?

However, it was harder than I thought to actually put aside those minutes on a daily basis. Who has the time to just sit and do nothing?! Sure, I tried it on and off. The rising, the falling… followed by the boredom, the overthinking, and the finally giving up and going on Facebook.

So I didn’t stick with it. I never got my piles of cash, and I still can’t see into people’s thoughts…

But then MS happened.

I was deep into my ‘empowerment’ phase.  Soaking up knowledge like an MSy sponge. Hunting for MS life hacks in the deepest corners of the internet.

And then it came up again. Meditation.

Pages of articles about the benefits of meditation for people living with MS. How could I not try it?! The promise of reduced symptoms, less stress, and a clearer mind was certainly enough motivation.

So I decided to start my journey to enlightenment on Youtube (where else?!). A search for ‘guided meditation’ returned hundreds of results. Videos promising to help with sleep, anxiety, stress. You name it, it was on there.

This was going to be easy!

Right, so on to the next challenge. When am I going to find the time to do this? It’s not like I’m a particularly busy person. I spend a lot of my evenings either blogging or watching TV.  So I could just do it went I felt like it right?

Well, I learned from my previous mistakes and decided it best to set a time to meditate. The evening was out, that was reserved for dinner and Netflix!

So what about before work? I tend to train in the morning, so I’m already up at 6am every day. Could I afford to lose half an hour’s sleep to meditate? I thought I’d give it a try. I tend to be more energetic and productive in the mornings, so seemed like the perfect time.

I set my alarm for 5:30, and headed off to the land of nod. I woke up the next morning feeling pretty rough, but I still peeled myself out of bed and headed off to the gym for a bit. I returned home 90 minutes later feeling significantly less than ‘zen’

But it was now or never!

I found a video on Youtube, put my headphones in, turned off the TV and closed my eyes.

Then the pan pipes started.  I have to admit, I felt a bit stupid.  There I was, sitting in the dark, eyes shut, listening to a guy tell me that I didn’t need to be afraid of anything, and that I could achieve anything I put my mind to.

Basically, that I was ‘the man’

But I stuck with it, completed the whole half an hour. Followed all the instructions that the softly spoken narrator gave me, really gave it my all. I returned to reality 30 minutes later, feeling a little spaced out (not an uncommon feeling for me).

So what happened? Did I immediately feel better? Was I instantly able to think clearly? To see into the future?

Well, no. Not really.

But I did come out of it feeling a lot calmer, and slightly more peaceful. I definitely felt more able to deal with my day.  Some of the stresses of MS (and working) life had sort of trickled out of me over those 30 minutes.

So I stuck with it. Tried to make sure that I meditated at least once every day.

Ok, so I didn’t actually manage it. But it is something that I try and do as often as possible, especially on the days where I’ m having a hard time collecting my thoughts.  Even if it’s just for a quick, 20 minute session in the car at lunch, a little bit of meditation goes a long way!

Can’t hurt right?

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