Anyone who knows me (well or otherwise), knows that dealing with anxiety is not my forte. When panic attacks, my eyes glaze and my ears fill with cotton. Time accelerates and I scrabble for space.
So – in the never-ending quest for self-improvement, four months ago, I decided to try “Mindfulness” meditation.
And I have learned so much more than how to better deal with anxiety. Dare I say it… I think I’m learning about that age-old concept, the “soul”.
Descriptions of “Mindfulness” abound on the internet, but from my experience, it is the practice of being self-aware. I am following a programme called Get Some Headspace – which I can heartily recommend. In short, I listen to a directed meditation pod-cast for 20 minutes a day.
While the effects may not be outwardly obvious, my consideration of myself and others has increased significantly. I practice trying to be aware of not just my thoughts, but also my emotions, and my physical sensations. Through being more aware of my own reactions, the hope is that I’ll be able to be more empathetic and compassionate towards others.
But perhaps the most revelatory realisation for me, has been the discovery of my sense of self. Earlier this year, I read an article on consciousness in New Scientists that left me awe-struck. It confirmed all my fears as a biology student, that we are simply a reactionary bundle of cells. Some string of intermittent memory may (or may not!) link a hereditary line of our somatic cells from school girl to woman – but all in all, it seemed there was certainly no real self, no soul, no core of being.
But mindfulness has suggested to me that perhaps this is not true. By being truly aware of what I’m feeling, what I’m thinking, and moreover, how I respond – means that I have more self-direction.
If a worrying situation arises, I am still likely to meet it with a rise of anxiety. But hopefully, now I will be aware that I am doing so. By being aware of such anxiety – I put distance between myself and that feeling.
Whereas before, I succumbed to being carried away by panic, I now strive to put distance between myself and that single emotion. I recognise worry as a passing phase; a passing phase leaving my core self seated, steady and ready to take on whatever’s next.
Of course, that’s the theory, and as someone I know often says “It’s all in the doing”. Moreover, just because I can muster some sort of self-determination certainly does not lead to the conclusion that souls exist! But for me, it opens my mind beyond the certainties of our bleak biological billings.
To help, Get some Headspace have produced a super duper video here. If you’re interested in finding out more, take a few minutes to watch it.