Only when we stop running from our feelings can we feel the hole close and begin to live a whole life. But, trying to cope with emotions while they are high is like being thrown into the deep end of the pool when we don’t know how to swim. Can you eventually learn to swim this way? Sure, some people do. Others will panic, become traumatized and never get in the water again.
The most effective way to learn coping mechanisms is to practice them when you’re calm. And practice them often. Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of a breakdown to practice belly breathing, pick a time of day every day to breathe deeply ten times, so that when the time comes and you need it, your skills are developed.
The same goes with meditation. Don’t wait for the anxiety attack to play the meditation track your doctor/therapist/yoga teacher/friend recommended. Practice meditation as often as you can, while you’re calm, and those tools will become like second nature to you in times of need.
An easy way to start is by taking anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes to sit quietly. Close your eyes, or leave them open and find a spot on the wall or floor in front of you to let your gaze rest on with a soft focus. Bring your focus to your breath and notice where in the body you’re feeling your breath.
Thoughts will come up. It is a common misconception that in meditation we are trying to stop our thinking. We are not trying to stop our thinking. We’re learning to let our thoughts flow. We’re learning to let them come up and pass without getting carried away by them. We’re learning to refocus our minds on our breath when we do get caught up in thought. This is the practice. A calm, quiet mind is the eventual result of this practice. And, this result can take years to reach.
Eventually, you’ll find you can sit in meditation for longer than a few minutes. You’ll find that you crave your meditation time. It’s no longer an inconvenience—something you feel you need to squeeze into your day—and will become a priority. You’ll find that with a clearer mind, you’re more productive and have more time in the day to meditate.
Other results of a regular meditation practice is raised awareness, non-attachment to your emotions and outcomes, and calmer reactions to life’s upsets. And these come much quicker than the quiet mind.
Remember, we’re not trying to be Buddha, we’re trying to recover and feel whole. It’s all about the practice and practice is our time for learning from our mistakes, not being perfect.