[By the way, if your personal tradition doesn’t like the word “meditation,” you can substitute “prayer” or something else that works.]
Believe it or not, the habit I have cultivated for the longest time is meditation. I probably came to it for self defense; I had a very, very busy brain as a young person. I worried a lot; I daydreamed a lot; I replayed scenarios in my mind; I engaged in endless analysis of my perceived flaws and the perceived flaws of others. I needed a break.
Lucky for me, I liked to go to the library as a little kid, and my mother did not care what I brought home, because when I was reading I was quiet. Sometime around 1970, when I was a preteen, I saw a scary looking book called Transcendental Meditation, by the equally scary looking Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. I thought to myself, “Hey, that’s what all the hippies are talking about” (the “hippies” were actually grad students who rented a house down the street from us).
So, I was just a kid, 11 or 12, so I probably didn’t get all the nuances of the technique right, and I never did take an official class in it, but I started meditating almost every day. I got to be pretty good at getting all blank, and I sure felt calmer when I consistently did it.
As time went on, I studied other forms of meditation, finding myself drawn toward something like Zen Buddhist meditation for a long time, learning about entering trance from my pagan friends (who always said I was SO good at that, since they didn’t realize my self-taught practice was pretty much what they were teaching), and of course, taking childbirth classes and practicing all that breathing (hee hee hee, etc.). And as you know, I do yoga as one of my main forms of mind-body exercise.
What did all that get me?
I’m pretty sure that all my meditation allowed me to go many years without any medications for my anxiety issue. It has also provided me with the best tool I have for dealing with physically stressful times, too. That childbirth breathing also works very well at the dentist, when stuck in crowds, or when I’m about to give a speech. A bit of breathing helps a LOT.
I’ve also found that answers to questions that have been on my mind have popped up while I’m doing my best to think about nothing. Usually one just gently shooes away random thoughts, but when an answer shows up, I see where it goes.
Honestly, meditation was my first step toward fearlessness. Having this wonderful tool in my repertoire to help me through difficult times has been a real blessing. I fear physical pain so much less, and I know that in mentally stressful times, I have a tool to help me recover. Such a simple thing as sitting for a while in silence every day has morphed into a powerful and freeing part of my life.
Does this aply to you?
Do you meditate? Do you prefer to pray and include words directed toward a helpful intermediary? Do you concentrate on a mantra or other phrase? Do you read from a book of meditations of some sort, then think about that? There are many different ways to center yourself and many different things people call “meditation,” but I think everyone needs a way to find their center quickly. Think about what you do. Do you want to learn something new?
If so, well, there are lots of resources beyond Transcendental Meditation these days, and there may be one that is just right for increasing your own fearlessness and coping with what life brings you