About a month ago I went on a meditation retreat and I feel like it has made large positive changes to my life.
For many years I have used my knitting as a form of relaxation and anxiety relief, this along with quiet afternoons in the garden were the tools I used to de-stress and find calm. They worked (to a point), while in the midst of pulling weeds or knitting on a sock I felt calm but it was not long lasting. Soon my mind would be back to churning over thoughts of work, things out of my control yet consuming and worrying.
Of course I had heard about mindful meditation. But I had not taken the time to learn or practice it for myself. I guess I thought I didn’t have time for it and that even if I did, I wouldn’t get anything out of it so there was no point “wasting” my time.
So how did I end up on a mindfulness meditation retreat? My sister had gone on a similar retreat and since has spoken of how it had benefited her. She was intending to go back to connect further and deepen her practice and asked if I would join her. As she was so passionate about it and I had heard that there were so many benefits I thought I would give it a go. Even if I got nothing out of the meditation it was at least a weekend away in the country to relax.
The timing of the retreat was impeccable, I had been under an immense amount of additional stress at work and was not able the cope with the situation by just going on as normal. So I went in with an open mind, hopeful that I would find that missing piece to help process and move on.
From the moment we arrived I decided to be in the moment, take in the teachings, let go of the rest of the world and be there for me. By doing this I gave myself the best opportunity to get real value out of the experience. And value is what I got over those two days and what I am continuing to get weeks afterwards.
I let go of the anger, frustration and stress that I had been building up and holding on to. I acknowledged my feelings, gave them space and then decided that I didn’t need to let those negative feelings control me or represent who I am as a person. The practice of being mindful gave me a reset button, a way to stop the churning thoughts and calm my mind.
I now meditate daily. Taking just 10 minutes each morning. It sets me up for the day, making me at peace, yet alert, energised and balanced. I am sleeping much better, feel calmer within myself and overall more content.
Of course work is still stressful, but it is not effecting me as deeply as it did before. I stop, breathe, acknowledge how I am feeling and then try to move on. I am still very much a beginner when it comes to all of this, so there are good days and bad days and I know that I will deepen and develop my mindfulness as I continue to practice it. What I do know is that it has really worked for me and is something that I now need and want to do as part of my daily routine.
Now the knitting and gardening are the added bonus on top of the meditation. A more active and public way to calm the mind. Knitting is especially good for this while at work. A few rows knit at lunchtime gives my mind that bit of focus on something fun and that is purely for me.