Meditation as a mental health strategy

Yesterday began fine, but then withdrawal set in from my weekend reduction in the SNRI I’m trying to wean off, and all I wanted to do was go back to bed and sleep. I felt tearful for absolutely no reason at all, but decided I wasn’t giving in to the “damn drugs!” and was going to be proactive. I feel quite lucky in that my withdrawal symptoms haven’t been too bad, well, put it this way, they could have been worse. Just one dreadful day then a handful of tough ones. So – teary and unmotivated I can deal with.

After feeling initially quite negative about the value of a community psychiatric nurse (CPN) for my mental health needs, I was pleasantly surprised during her last visit as she was very helpful and motivational. In fact she was brilliant and turned my whole day/week/attitude around. She gave me lots of very useful practical ideas. The best of which was to try the ‘Headspace‘ meditation app.

Headspace meditationI must admit to being quite cynical about some alternative medicines and despite mindfulness being mentioned everywhere, and highly recommended, I just can’t take to the idea. I bought a book and read a snippet that was all about taking ten minutes to eat a raisin and think about it (really!?). It was all I could do to get to the end of the paragraph as I just couldn’t engage with the concept. Now clearly I am only speaking for myself, as many hold it in high regard. I’ve probably not given it enough of a chance. But half the battle in life is finding what works for you and not comparing yourself to others. So initially I felt the same when my CPN told me about this meditation app. What exactly the difference is between mindfulness and meditation seems very subtle (read this post by Clare Josa for a great comparison) and actually I’m not really bothered about the difference, or the name, but what I am interested in is how to undertake it and the goal of the exercise! This is how Headspace sells itself:

MeditationAs Andy Puddicombe (Headspace founder) says – ‘Who wouldn’t want that?’. I have been following his guided meditations for about 16 days now (10 minutes each day) and I think it is fantastic! Aside from the fact that Andy’s voice sounds soooo soothing as he guides you, it really has made a big difference to me. But don’t take my word for it, take 10 minutes out and decide for yourself!

Back to yesterday’s state of mind, I decided to just ‘go with it’ and do what I knew would be for the best instead of ‘giving in’ to it. I took myself off to one of my favourite places – Harewood House and the 100 acres of beautiful landscape around it. My main goal was just to escape and do some exercise, however halfway around the grounds I found this:

Meditation spotoverlooking this:

Meditation spotwith the only sounds to be heard were the breeze, the birds and a cockerel, and not another soul around. It was as if it had my name all over it – ‘I was wondering when you were going to find me!’ I had found a perfect spot to meditate. I immediately sat down and played my next meditation. I can only say I felt almost euphoric on the rest of my walk!

Stepping stones

Flowers

 

I practically skipped over the stepping stones, did some stretches on the bridge and admired the blooms! Back at the terrace behind Harewood House, the gardens there look fabulous:

The Terrace

The Terrace

 

I couldn’t help but smile when I saw this, reminding me of my little cherubs…

CherubsI will sign off with one final photo:

Flowers

Hope you enjoyed this post, and if you have any thoughts or experiences with meditation or mindfulness as a mental health strategy, please add them below!

I’ll be back tomorrow to share a card.

Emma x

 

8 thoughts on “Meditation as a mental health strategy

  1. Hi Emma –
    Had exactly the same experience myself yesterday, following a stressful morning. Walked up Hawkshaw Lane and towards the bottom of the moor, taking photos of butterflies and wild flowers as I went. Got a few strange looks from those in 4-wheel drives who seem to think the lane belongs to them, not to some mad old woman with her camera, but I know which I’d rather be. Just the sound of the bees and the birds, and the butterflies dancing ahead of me were enough to calm me and make me smile to myself. Nature – what better cure is there??
    Love
    Pam

  2. Oh it looks beautiful there, and the perfect spot for meditation!

    You know, i’ve been thinking about the whole meditation thing a lot more recently, even yoga too. My CPN gave me a disc a while back, maybe i’ll dust that off and have a look before the one you’ve mentioned.

    Great post, Emma! You’re doing great, keep your chin up -we’ve the sandy dunes to face!

    xxxx

  3. I’m into week 2 of an 8 week mindfulness meditation course that comes with Mark Williams’ book. Along with anti-depressants that I’ve been taking for about 6 years on & off, & seem to keep me steady. I didn’t like the raisin one, but am really liking the others. Early days, but I’m feeling hopeful that this will be a resource to draw on in future.

    • Sounds good, yes it feels like a REALLY positive step in the right direction doesn’t it? Glad it’s not just me with the raisins!!! Maybe I’ll have another look. Thank you so much for adding your thoughts x

  4. Mum has that Mindfulness book Em, and I must admit I did like it. I am terribly over analytical and need times where I can focus my mind and block out everything else by focussing my attention solely on one thing in a lot of detail. I did the chocolate exercise where you focus on the taste, smell, texture, tastes etc, and by doing so, you glean all of the pleasure out of it, rather than just scoffing it down and not really noticing (which is what I usually do where chocolate is concerned).
    I find that I have too many thoughts, flitting everywhere and find it very difficult sometimes to train my mind to focus on one thing at a time – I often have trouble concentrating at work – so I quite like the concept, but like you say, everyone has a different state of mind, and you have to learn what works for yours 🙂

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