I tried meditation about six years ago after reading The Mindful Way Through Depression. But it felt clunky, I decided I was a meditation dud, and gave up.
In January, a friend mentioned the Headspace app. Headspace was created by Andy Puddicombe "to bring meditation to the masses in a way that would cut the airy-fairyness out of it." (Nilufer Atik, The Telegraph)
IMMA GO AHEAD AND SAY YOU NAILED IT, ANDY.
I completed the free intro pack and lickety-split became an evangelist. I signed up for a year membership and made my way through the Foundation Pack, excited to unlock the rest of the Headspace library.
I began to notice some fun changes.
My squirrel brain slowed long enough to absorb entire conversations, podcasts, and lectures. I could recap said conversations, podcasts, and lectures in detail (my recaps used to sound something like: "So this woman—or man?—who worked for a big important organization—or maybe a startup?—did a thing and then some stuff happened—or maybe stuff happened and then he/she did a thing?— that changed lives and woah. Cool, right?") I realized I'd never really been present during my massages. I was always lost to all the chatter in my head. Massage is kind of amazing without Captain Anxio-brain busy spinning webs and making lists.
And then I one-two-skipped-a-few and almost jumped.
After my close call with the wrong side of a bridge, I decided meditation, like my anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds, needs to be part of my routine.
Nearly jumping from a bridge shone some sobering clarity on what staying alive looks like for me. It looks like routine and vigilance and radical self-care. I don't get to relax when it comes to my mental health. Hope it just works itself out.
Which, to be frank, is a bummer. Depression comes with an American-sized serving of fatigue. The energy involved in that level of vigilance makes me instinctively reach for my pyjamas and a few months in bed.
But Headspace is something I look forward to. It's time for me to heal and build emotional and mental strength. With zero pressure and zero judgement.
Anxiety. I see you.
I had a therapist call me "sticky." "You feel everything, Shannon and it all sticks to you. You're sticky!" Yaaaaaaas! Because I ruminate. I grab onto a thought, hold tight, and ride that sucker twisty-town down to the bottom.
My anxiety is the command post for my mental-health-related quirks—that stickiness. Understanding this has been like discovering where that smell in the kitchen is coming from. Instead of selling the house, I can get to work chucking and scrubbing everything covered in potato slime.
When I finished the Foundation Pack and unlocked the full Headspace library, I went straight for The Anxiety Pack. I was so excited to tackle my anxiety that I briefly considered smashing through the entire 30-session pack in one sitting. (Zen, right?)
You may call me Teflon.
The Anxiety Pack introduces the practice of "noting." Noting is a quiet, huggable beast. You definitely want Noting on your team. Noting has meant that thoughts—the kind that typically latch onto and hatch bigger, scarier thoughts and pin me to dark corners for days and months—make an appearance, get a pat on the hiney, and slide on by.
I used to believe that the only way through sadness was through it. I believed I had to allow myself to feel it. Sit with it. Coddle it. Anything less would be a form of denial and stifling to my growth.
I still very much believe that sadness is a crucial companion to joy. But I no longer feel obligated to sit through five course meals with negative memories, regrets, or staggering what-ifs.
Meditation has given me the tools to avoid spirals triggered by clinging to thoughts and feelings. It's connected me to who I am without the tangled muck. It's escorted my anxiety to the back of the bus and put me behind the wheel again.
It's made me less sticky!
Headspace for everyone!
I've especially been sharing the good news with friends dealing with mental health issues, but I can't think of one single person Headspace wouldn't benefit.
If meditation interests you, but you don't really know where to start, Headspace is screaming your name. And if you've already got meditation buttoned down, I double dog dare you to try Headspace anyway. You might see meditation from a fresh, more delightful angle.
Mr. Puddicombe is not compensating me in any way for my Headspace happy dance. I'm this obnoxious all on my own because Headspace has opened up my world more than cute cat videos. Which is really saying a lot.