Can meditation really tap into your unlimited potential?
I’m not a fan of meditation. My mind is too busy, too forthright, too belligerent to be still and at rest. My body is too demanding to allow me to sit for twenty minutes without moving. I don’t envy people who can sit for twenty minutes without moving. I think they’re nuts. Until I found Dr. Joe Dispenza and heard what he has to say about mediation, how it can transform your life, and tap into your unlimited potential.
This is why meditation is such a challenge for me; maybe you can relate? My morning can go something like this: I get out of bed, make coffee and sit down to work, usually waking with the seed of an idea, something I want to write about. I open the laptop; write a few words, notice some dirt by the door, clean the floor. Return to the laptop, write more words, and think of the dirty dishes in the sink. While I wash said dishes, I remember I want to bake some bread, paint the door, clean the car.
I take the ingredients from the cupboard and lay them out on the counter to make sure I have what I need. Invariably, I’m missing something and need to pop to the shop. I return to the laptop, write a few more words. The dog wakes up. I’m now thinking about the words on the page, the words in my head, the shop, the door, the car and taking the dog for a walk. This activity is punctuated by numerous visits to the bathroom.
I also need to get dressed. I write a few more words. I hop in the shower. The dog is now pacing. In the shower, more inspiration comes. With a towel wrapped around me, I write a few more words. I get dressed. Make a mental shopping list. Find the dog’s lead, organize my handbag, put on make-up. Write a few more words. The dog is now downright impatient. I’m doing six things at once. I still have to have breakfast.
THE OVER-ACTIVE MIND
I can only imagine that this kind of mental activity is tenfold for people who have kids and spouses and full-time jobs outside of home. As a woman with IBS, I’ve learned to make lifestyle decisions that minimize demands on my time, painfully aware that there’s only so much I can cope with, and it’s considerably less than most people.
Even the idea of another person in my space on a day-to-day basis gives me palpitations. It’s hard enough to keep up with my own daily needs, never mind those of a potential partner. To put it mildly, I’m easily distracted, easily stressed out. On a good day, I’m highly-strung. While all of these minor tasks are going on, I’m also hyper-aware of my bowels and how easily they can shut down. When that happens, I crash.
I’m speaking from experience. In 2019, I had a nervous breakdown. For days, my body was on fire, vibrating with anxiety. I couldn’t sit still, couldn’t calm my mind. I felt as if I could feel the blood pumping through my veins, and could hear every internal mechanism as loud as a foghorn inside my head. I wanted to scream, to drown out the noise. I was screaming – silently. No one could hear me but me.
The breakdown lasted for four days but the anxiety lingered for two years. It made me feel weak, unworthy, a coward and a loser. Negativity plagued me. I resented the dog for needing regular walks. I hated going outside, dreaded seeing people. But I forced myself to go to the gym a few times a week. Exercise became a lifeline. Without it, I’m not sure I would have made it back.
PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING
Outside factors contributed to my breakdown: a new noisy neighbour, friends spreading lies about me, a sister who believed some of those lies and decided to despise me. Around every corner was an enemy. Everywhere I turned, I felt attacked. I couldn’t figure out if the attacks were real or imagined. The more I tried to qualify them, the more I distrusted myself.
All this may sound trite or hyperbolic to anyone with “real” problems, for example, someone who is homeless, disabled or in an abusive relationship. But if you’re in an abusive relationship with yourself, it’s akin to being homeless or disabled. How we perceive the world around us is how the world around us treats us. See that world as an enemy, and it becomes one.
And this type of negative thinking has serious consequences. This is how people lose their homes, families, health and wellbeing. What saved me was having a home to sell. While I recognise I was incredibly lucky to have this option, what I sold was my retirement plan. I figured it was worth sacrificing my future security to regain mental health.
I used the money for two things: to give me space to finish a novel, and rent an apartment in the countryside. I finished the novel and got good responses from a few agents but it wasn’t good enough to get picked up. However, the move to the countryside was worth its weight in gold. It rekindled my love of nature, giving me strength to seek out help and start seeing things in a more positive light.
THE RECEPTIVE MIND
More importantly, it settled my nerves, muting my self-hate, changing my outlook from one of fear to intense curiosity. I wanted to understand what had happened to me, and the more research I did the more I came to realize that what I went through was not only common, it was an experience on the rise for millions of people all over the world.
In a 2020 University of Leeds study, it was shown that the prevalence of anxiety and depression amongst IBS sufferers to be 39% and 29% respectively. Studies also show that people with higher levels of depression and anxiety are more likely to develop IBS, and people with IBS are more likely to develop anxiety. In short, an upset stomach can lead to an upset mind, and visa versa.
“When you change your energy, everything changes,” says Dr. Dispenza and until it happened to me I didn’t believe this was true. In this podcast with Lewis Howes, Dr. Dispenza explains how this works. He describes the different states of the mind, and how in a theta state, the mind becomes malleable, allowing it to be retrained and eliminate old fears.
Your mind naturally falls into a theta state just before you fall asleep. But the other way to get there is through meditation. You don’t need to do this for a long time (though it helps.) If, like me, you can’t settle your mind for 20 minutes, 30 seconds is enough. Now, I spend 30 to 60 seconds in this state every day, before I go to bed and when I get up.
The difference this makes to my mental health is huge. I sit down to work and finish tasks. I think of the people who wronged me in the past and feel compassion. I smile more often, more easily. I think of my future self and my heart fills with joy. Instead of berating myself, I see my flaws as opportunities to improve. I still have a long way to go but I’m starting to feel unlimited.
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Watch this podcast of Dr. Joe Dispenza in conversation with Lewis Howes. Try a 30-second meditation. 30-seconds, that’s all I’m asking. Let me know how you get on in the comments below.
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