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Archive for October, 2010

During my past couple of meditation sessions, I’ve been focusing on “a more natural breath.” As I shifted from a mantra-based practice to one that focuses only on the breath, I found that I was breathing with what is known in yoga as “ojai” breath. When I think of focusing on the breath, I default to this style of breathing. I found that the “loud,” ocean sound of the breath helped me to focus in a way similar to having a mantra. However, I once had a yoga teacher who told us (what a yoga teacher of his had once told him, as it goes in yoga…), “If the ojai breath is an ocean, it is your ocean.” Meaning, you shouldn’t be overpowering your neighbor with the powerful sound of your ojai breath. This was interesting to me because I’ve been in many yoga classes where the sound of ojai breathing fills the room. Still, I’ve kept this in mind since then and figured this should also apply to my meditation practice. In addition to that is the fact I’ve also been told that the breath during meditation should be a “natural” breath. This is why, lately, I’ve been trying to soften my breathing during meditation — silencing the ocean, but probably ingratiating myself to my neighbor during group meditation practice.

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Two years ago I was promoting meditation as the best form of medication. This was all part of years spent trying every possible method of “alternative” methods to quell a problem with generalized anxiety and panic attacks. I have been firmly opposed to medication on many levels, but primary out of the belief that it is over-prescribed and/or prescribed after a too short evaluation ending in a possible misdiagnosis and out of a fear of long-term and side effects. I find the pharmaceutical industry to be almost as corrupt as the financial sector of our economy. And so, after experiencing my first panic attack during my Junior year of college (that would be…um…14 years ago), I have read myriad self-help books, including the Anxiety and Phobia Workbook; I’ve learned and practiced a great many breathing exercises; I practice yoga; I’ve had acupuncture treatments; I’ve tried reiki, shiatsu, and swedish massage; I started meditating; I’ve tried Chinese herbs; I’ve done talk therapy. All in all, I’ve tried nearly everything to deal with and change my anxiety and panic attacks.

This summer my anxiety seemed to be reaching a new level. I had made a decision to leave my office job and return to teaching, which has, for years, been one of my primary triggers around my anxiety. I also felt that I was falling into a mild depression — life just didn’t feel the same to me anymore. For example, I could rationally and objectively tell when it was a beautiful summer day outside, but I didn’t feel the beauty. I wasn’t connected to it in the way I’d always been when it came to the outdoors. This, coupled with the impending Fall semester and my return to the classroom, pushed me to the point of seeing a psychiatrist.

I am now doing meditation and medication, and this blog might be taking a different direction than I had originally intended, but I’d like to begin documenting that now altered (chemically) spiritual journey. I still have many mixed feelings about the medication part of my life, and I want to explore through writing how the two mesh (or don’t).

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