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What is it & Does it Really Work?

If you haven’t tried to meditate and have been thinking about it….DO IT!  The act of meditation cost you nothing but a little time. And the benefits of meditating are priceless. There are many different types and ways to meditate. Some people spend a lifetime meditating. Others, like me, come into meditation later in life. I started to meditate a little over a year ago when I was battling with severe insomnia and anxiety. In this blog, I’ll be sharing exactly what Guided Meditation is, how I came to meditate, and why it is now a crucial part of my self-care routine.  

So, exactly what is guided meditation? Guided meditation is a form of meditation that can utilize

a variety of techniques to achieve and/or enhance a person’s meditative state. These techniques may include a session that is under the guidance with a trained coach or practitioner, music, imagery, or other techniques. [i] I have used both the coach and musical imagery techniques and have had good success with both.

Thanks to today’s technology a guided meditation session that traditionally utilizes an in person coach can be done through media like an ap or a recording. The same can be said for musical or visual imagery meditation. Just look on YouTube and do a search for “Guided Meditation”, and you’ll find a wide variety of options. The other great thing about guided meditation is you can set the length of time you wish to meditate. I’ve had meditation sessions as short as ten minutes and as long as one hour. It really comes down to the “Why”.

Why do you want to meditate?  Are you like me and need help clearing your mind so you can get some sleep? Perhaps you need help to relax and reduce some stress and anxiety. Or maybe you need some help to open your creativity. Whatever is bothering mentally or emotionally, guided meditation can be an excellent tool in your self-care tool bag, and can fit into anyone’s schedule

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I had been battling with bouts on insomnia for many years. Usually when I was working on a big project at work or coming up on a major deadline.  I noticed it got really bad right about when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. A few months prior, I was blessed to get a promotion at my job. My new position was a challenge, filled with tons of detailed work and time sensitive information. The position was completely out of my comfort zone, but that’s why I knew I had to go for it! And go for it, I did! I’m a people pleaser after all, and failure was not in my vocabulary. Looking back, I’m sure much of the pressure was self-induced.

I was dealing with so much stress it was keeping me up at night and I was starting to have anxiety attacks. I felt like I could never catch my breath. My neck. shoulders, and back constantly had knots from all the tension. My blood pressure was constantly elevated, and my eating habits were atrocious. A good night sleep was when I got more than three hours of consistent sleep. Enter the Covid-19 pandemic. I end up getting covid early on. On March 16, 2020, my husband and I were placed into quarantine for two weeks. On March 27, 2020, the state of Colorado was shut down except for essential businesses. On March 31, 2020, I was officially out of quarantine and back in my office. For the next month I was working on average 65-70 hours a week. The stress was unpalpable. Still recovering from Covid, working the job of three people, and still self-isolating was taking its toll on my mental and physical health.

People that know me, know that I am horrible at asking for help. I know it doesn’t make any sense and is completely ill-logical, but in my mind, if I asked for help, then I was a failure. So during this time period, I knew I was drowning but instead of raising my hand and asking for help, I kept telling myself, “Just work harder Ashley.” “Go in early or Stay Late if you have to.” “Keep your head down and keep a smile on my face.” That was my mantra for months!

After about five months, things finally began to slow down and return to normal, but the damage I had done to myself was done. I gained 20 pounds and aged about 5 years. My alcohol consumption was way up.  I started taking some cannabis and CBD infused chocolate and gummies at night to try and unwind. It helped some, but I knew I needed to do something else. I just couldn’t get my mind to shut down my body to relax. It was like I was in constant “GO” mode and in a heightened state of alertness. Then, one night after work, I just lost it. I knew I couldn’t do this anymore; my body was starting to rebel against me. Months of built-up stress and anxiety came out all at once, and I began to sob uncontrollably.  I felt like I lost total control of myself. My husband Gene is truly a saint, as he saw the buildup and was there to catch me when I came crashing down.

After I gained control of myself, I felt like I had been beaten with 100 bats. I hurt everywhere and was exhausted, but I STILL couldn’t sleep! Gene had recently come across an ap called Balance, and he suggested I try some meditation before I went to bed. I, of course ignored him. I knew he was probably right, by my stubbornness wouldn’t allow me to concede. How dumb! My own ego had me battling with myself! I finally relented though, thank goodness, and downloaded the Balance Ap onto my phone. It’s a subscription based Ap, but it’s free for the first year, so I figured why not give it a try. Let me tell you, I’m so glad I did!

I feel I need to preface that this is not a paid sponsorship or anything like that, I just really like the Ap! The first night I tried the Balance Ap, I slept more than 6 hours! It was AMAZEBALLS! The Balance ap is an ap designed around guided meditation. It has a wide variety of guided meditation sessions to help you with things like sleep, anxiety, motivation, energy, concentration, creativity, and so much more! And it offers a variety of time lengths to fit any schedule. Seriously, you can have a guided meditation session for ten minutes or an hour!

Guided meditation is now part of my personal self-care routine. I now meditate on average 4-5 times a week. I usually meditate in the morning before I start my day. I find that it helps me set my intention for the day ahead. It clears my mind and helps me to focus. Sometimes I also will meditate in the evening if I find that I can’t “shut down” my brain.

So, let’s review:

  • Guided mediation is a form of meditation that utilizes things like a coach or practitioner, music, or visual imagery.
  • Guided meditation can be virtually any time length so it can easily fit into anyone’s schedule.
  • You don’t have to be an expert or guru to practice guided meditation.
  • There are a bunch or free resources available to help you get started with guided meditation like the Balance ap and YouTube.
  • Guided meditation is an excellent tool for your self-care toolbox.

Until next time, peace, and love to you. Namaste.

[i] Wikipedia

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