Have you ever wondered about how meditation can help you in real life? Here is my recent experience. I hope it inspires you to begin a daily meditation practice.
July 2019. My husband and I were on vacation in France when a medical emergency sent him to the emergency room. During a long, scary night of waiting, I was able to rely on my meditation practice. These are the meditations I used during the night.
The breath prayer. Often when I’m stressed or scared, my prayers become jumbled and incoherent. The breath prayer is a simple way to pray and connect, and express what is on your heart. Here’s how it works: on the inhale, say your name for God (Jesus, Holy Spirit, Comforter, Creator, Divine, Krishna, etc.). On the exhale, say the deepest desire of your heart. Inhale, Lord have mercy, exhale heal his eye.
Counting Down from 108. This is one of my favorite meditations. It goes like this: inhale the even numbers (108), exhale the odd numbers (107). When you get distracted, come back to the last number you remember. Inhale, 108, exhale, 107, inhale 106, exhale 105, inhale 104, exhale 103… I had to restart the countdown over and over as worries intruded. I kept at it, and twice I counted all the way down to zero, then restarted again.
The square breath. On the wall was a battery-operated wall clock with a very loud sound: tick tick tick. I began to use a technique called the square breath. Using the ticking clock as my counter, I inhaled for four beats, held the breath for four beats, exhaled for four beats, and held the exhale for four beats, then inhaled for four beats, and so on. The steady tick tick tick of the clock kept me focused. Inhale two three four, hold two three four, exhale two three four, hold two three four…
Staying in the present moment: This is happening now. During the long night, it would have been easy to avoid my feelings. I was tempted to stuff my feelings down with chocolate or drown them with wine. I was tempted to distract myself by diving into a great novel. But I wanted to stay in the present moment. I repeated the mantra: this is happening now. By doing so, I was able to stop jumping into the future and thinking about worst-case scenarios. (Well, sort of.) Those what if thoughts kept creeping in, but I did my best to let them go and come back to the present moment.
In the end, Stuart was okay, and I hope we never have to go through something like that again. However I am so grateful to meditation for getting through the experience in a healthy way.
I am relaying this story because I hope it inspires you to start your own daily meditation practice. If you need help getting started, try starting with my beginner’s guide, my gratitude meditation, a mindfulness meditation, or the chakra clearing meditation.
In what ways has meditation helped you? Have you had a similar experience?