“You’re distracted and stressed because you’re not mindful. But the statement should be in reverse – you’re not mindful because you’re distracted and stressed.”– Unknown
I’ve never had much luck with using or finding any coping skills that work. To me, they’ve always been akin to bullet points on a piece of paper given out at AA meetings or therapy sessions. They just have never been helpful to me and so I keep my distance.
Though I’ve never found any of the generic “coping skills” to work for me, I have noticed that meditation seems to be on every list.
Just another bullet point: mediation.
For all intents and purposes, to meditate, according to Oxford Dictionaries, is to “think deeply or focus one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation”. Well, I’m here to tell ya that I’m just not hardwired for something like that, although there is a known direct connection between meditation and bipolar disorder.
Meditation is known to provide a sense of calm, peace, and balance. It can also help carry you more calmly through your day and may help you manage symptoms of certain medical conditions.
There are many different kinds of meditation, usually all focusing on areas such as posture, breathing, attention, and relaxation
To me, meditation actually seems…daunting. Like a task or something you really dread but have no choice in doing – except you do. I just don’t know that I have the capacity to slow my brain down enough to even an begin to try to meditate.
However, more than 60% of the top health problems for which people use meditation are stress, anxiety, and depression.
It only takes a little research (and some common sense) to discover and understand the benefits of meditation.
Some of these benefits include:
- Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
- Building skills to manage your stress
- Increasing self-awareness
- Focusing on the present
- Reducing negative emotions
- Increasing imagination and creativity
- Increasing patience and tolerance
That sounds good and all but, come on. Give me a break.
I must stress to everyone reading this that I am in no way dogging or downplaying meditation as a coping strategy, ideology, or practice if it works for you. I’m not saying it doesn’t work for people. Not at all. It just hasn’t worked for me.
It’s true, though, that meditation isn’t for everyone. There is some research that found that more than a quarter of those who regularly meditate have had a “particularly unpleasant” psychological experience while doing so, including feelings of fear and distorted emotions.
The study found that psychologically unpleasant experiences can occur during meditation. Even some traditional Buddhist texts allude to intense accounts of similar experiences.
A similar study found meditation can sometimes make people more neurotic, depressed, anxious, and can even trigger unresolved trauma.
For those who can’t properly meditate (myself included), there are a variety of reasons why including:
- Racing mind
- No consistency
- Wandering minds
- Keep falling asleep
- Body aches and pains
- Having great ideas or thinking of important things
- Trouble finding time
- Expectations set too high
- Hope of immediate results
There are, however, different methods for those who traditional meditation doesn’t work. Experimenting with personal variations, practicing in a different or a group setting, and keeping your mediations short are just a few of these ways.
Maybe I’m jealous to some extent because it sounds like an awesome concept, at least in theory; it may be difficult and frustrating in ways I haven’t even considered. In the end, you have to go with what works for you. You have to go with your gut.
For me, it’s not something I find any relief in but have not given up on. I’d like to be able to meditate; out of all the coping skills I know of meditation is the most appealing and seemingly reasonable to me. Maybe I’m just fascinated by the idea of it. I hope to one day be able to put the idea into practice and benefit from it. The science is there. Now I just got to catch up.