For all my adult life I had a busy brain. It never stopped. Swinging from what I hadn’t done to what I needed to do. I’d wake up in the night and make lists of things to remember. It was a spiral.
I spent my time focussing on the past and the future, and no time enjoying the present. It sapped the enjoyment from my life, and I was overwhelmed and anxious. When I look around, I think this is common.
My early career was spent in the chilled food industry. Whilst I loved much of my job, it was demanding, and I was plagued by Imposter Syndrome (I know that now – I didn’t then!). I expected a huge amount of myself and worked long hours. Looking back, in that respect, I was a terrible role model for my team.
This then continued as my husband and I built our own business, and our family. Three years ago, after a difficult time in our business and a concurrent family situation, I knew things had to change. I was exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated. I knew there had to be a better way. My husband and kids deserved so much more. I didn’t want my kids growing up believing this was how you had to live your life.
I wanted more for them and more for me.
One Saturday I met my cousin for breakfast, and she suggested I try meditating. I was sceptical but I was willing to try it. That conversation was the start of me changing my life.
The benefits of physical exercise are widely recognised. The benefits of meditation far less so. However, brain scanning technology has enabled neuroscientists to see that meditation changes the physical structure of the brain. In a study carried out by Dr Sarah Azar of Harvard University after 8 weeks of meditation, she identified physical changes in the subjects’ brains’ where the area of the brain associated with learning and memory had increased in size and the area of the brain associated with anxiety and stressed had reduced.
This very much reflects my own experience. I am calmer, my ability to focus is far greater and I am miles happier. I may spend 15 minutes meditating but I more than get this back as I am now much more efficient in how I spend my time and my clarity of thinking is hugely better. The way we think, impacts how we feel which creates our actions and therefore our outcomes. If we want better outcomes, we’ve got to change the way we think and mediation can help with this.
Photo: Unsplash, Ross Sneddon