Hey everybody, Mike Uhrlaub with another of Power Your Life. Today I would like to talk to you about how you can heal faster with meditation. Previously, I have talked about how my son, Garrett, had started trap shooting. I know I mentioned how proud I am of him. He started shooting on his trap team for Underwood back in March. This is the first time he has been involved with this sport and I didn’t have a lot of experience either. It has been a new experience for our entire family. He only got a couple of practices back in March before the COVID-19 restrictions hit and shut it down. Recently, a few months ago they started to resume practices.
Garrett struggled with being consistent about hitting the clay targets at first. Watching his progress over the last several weeks has been super inspiring for me. He really worked hard at it and his persistence is starting to pay off. Back in March he could only hit two or three out of his 50 targets. At the end of August, he was hitting 13/14, and now he’s hitting over 20 of the 50 targets! He has gone from hitting a couple to hitting almost half. This really got me thinking about how important it is to be persistent and persevere through things.
Persistence and Perseverance
Too often, people tend to quit when things they’re working on start to get a little tough. It seems to me that when we’re faced with an obstacle or challenge, many folks will just try and back away or try to avoid it completely; When what they need to do is take that obstacle head on and keep at it until they overcome the challenge. For the most part, I think this is just human nature. It’s human nature for us to avoid the pain of the obstacle or challenge. But, when you think about it, anything in life worth having is not going to be easy.
There are going to be challenges. There are going to be trials and tribulations along the way. There will be obstacles and roadblocks present and you should never shy away from these obstacles because the obstacle is the way. Overcoming the obstacle or challenge is how we learn and improve ourselves. The perseverance and persistence is how you succeed. This process has been a blessing because in this, is the journey of perseverance and persistence to overcome the challenge that you are faced with. In turn, it builds your character. I believe there is always a lesson God is trying to tech us in everything we face. If we open our eyes and hearts, we can learn from what we are facing and can be better from that experience. It’s all about persistence and perseverance.
I want to talk a little bit about meditation and breathing. At times, it can seem life is just coming at you in every different direction, right?
You have things coming at you on your phone, TV, radio input, news, media, everything is just fast, fast, fast, fast, fast. I don’t know about you, but for me, it can become incredibly overwhelming. I have personally experienced this feeling over the last several years where I’ve been working on expanding and building my physical therapy practice. In that time, I experienced a period of unrest and felt overwhelmed; It seemed like I had so much to do. It didn’t matter what I did, I just wasn’t making any progress. I don’t know if you’ve ever had that feeling where you just feel like you’re just spinning your wheels. You’re doing stuff, but are not making any progress so you look at it and see how much more you have to do. Then, it starts looping over in your mind and gets kind of crazy.
The Never Ending Loop
That loop led me to a period of time where there was a lot of increased worry and anxiety. In turn, this caused me to have trouble shutting down my mind. At night I would lay in bed and wouldn’t be able to sleep because my mind would just race. It would be thinking about all of the things I didn’t get done that day and night. Then it would be thinking about all of the things I needed to do the next day. It just kept this round and round loop going which kept me up. Eventually, I couldn’t be present with my family; I would just sit there. It became really apparent to me that my own thoughts were becoming my worst enemy. I couldn’t relax nor could I couldn’t stop and be in the moment because I couldn’t get my thinking process to shut down.
Have you ever been there?
Where you’re at home, but you’re really not at home. You may be there physically, but mentally you are kind of checked out. Your mind’s racing and thinking about other things in life, whether it’s your job, worries, or concerns. Someone’s trying to talk to you but you’re just not there……
That’s how I was. My wife knew there was something wrong. The more I struggled to take control of things, the harder it got. The idea of getting control of your mind and thought’s is an elusive idea. You reach out there thinking you were just getting ready to grab it, but you couldn’t. That concerned and worried me to the point where I was starting to have trouble completing different tasks and projects. I would get things started and just couldn’t carry them to completion. I started to procrastinate because I felt this incredible overwhelm that came along with the anxiety of my mind not shutting down.
I started to experience what I call monkey brain. All I wanted was just to have peace and calm; To be able to sleep at night.
It was about that time a friend of mine, who is another physical therapist, suggested I try meditation. I have to be honest with you, at first, I kind of laughed at it. You know, it’s like meditation, what’s that going to do? What is just sitting there and thinking going too? I can’t shut my mind off, so why would I want to think more? I want to get it to shut off. He said he uses it and it really helps him. So, I decided to give it a try, what could it hurt? He was having the same problems I was; Plus, it had grown to be more than a mental problem. My back pain had started to increase, a pain would shoot through my neck, and I was getting headaches. There was no doubt this was starting to create physical problems for me.
I had no idea how to do it. I really didn’t even know what meditation was. But I trust and respect him; he swore by it. I tried a few apps and the first one I tried was Headspace, which I liked. I thought it was good. A Simple Habit is another one I found to be pretty helpful. I progressed on and tried another app, Calm. I think a lot of people are familiar with Calm. Eventually, I settled with an app called Abide because I wanted a meditation app that would enhance my faith as a Christian.
It doesn’t matter what app that you use, all of those are good and there’s a lot more out there.
Regular Meditation is a Life Changer
Regular meditation made a huge difference for me. I didn’t notice it right at first. I just started out with a few minutes in the morning (five minutes and eventually built up 10/15 minutes because that’s all I had time for). Eventually, I started using it over my lunch hour with a quick 5-minute meditation to get my thoughts reorganized. I found I was really productive in the morning and I liked being really productive. In the afternoon, I would lose my productivity because things Then, I started using it in the evening to help me go to sleep. I still use it to this day.
Within a few weeks, I noticed a big difference. I was able to think more clearly. I was a lot more present when somebody engaged me. I was able to pay attention. Some of my aches and pains were getting better. I was sleeping more through the night and not waking up near as tired. The biggest one was hot it helped my personal relationships with my family. I felt more clear and direct; I would think of exactly what I wanted to say. It didn’t feel like I had all this stuff in my brain circling around like a big storm. It felt like everything was a lot more calm and smooth.
This stuff didn’t happen all at once. It was a gradual process.
Since starting, I’ve researched meditation and it has been proven to not only help you mentally, but also with aspects of your physical healing too. Due to my findings and success with meditation, I wanted to list out some of the benefits you can.
I have already touched up the big one, which is reducing your stress.
Meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system and calms the sympathetic nervous system. You might remember those from some of the other blog posts we’ve talked about; The fight or flight response is your sympathetic nervous system. It’s the part that makes things really excited. It is the part that doesn’t want to let your brain shut down.
When that part of your nervous system is overactive and you have an imbalance, your body starts a stress hormone called cortisol. Which increases your blood pressure, heart rate, and forces your body to start storing more body fat.
Meditation Can Help With Weight Loss
Meditation will not only help with your thinking and mental clarity; it will help you with your physical healing and weight loss too. It does this because when you activate the parasympathetic nervous system, you lower your cortisol levels; That’s a good thing.
Meditation Lowers Anxiety
This is part of reducing the stress. I didn’t notice this all at one time. One day I suddenly realized I was not worried as much. Things started to roll off my back. I’m not worried about the things I have no control over. I can just let it go.
Meditation Improves Your Emotional Health
I found this benefit to be a real value; It makes you feel more positive and enhances self-awareness. All of the research points at this as well. It’s been shown that those who meditate improve their positivity and feelings of wellbeing. I certainly can attest to that.
With regular practice, I started noticing I could pay more attention, not only to how I felt, but to what was triggering me with racing thoughts at the time. I could learn how to pay attention to my body and how to remove those triggers from what I was experiencing.
The deep breathing aspect of meditation really seemed to enhance that aspect of self-awareness for me. I mentioned before how my thinking got more clear, but one of the big ones is how my attention span started to get better. Before meditation I had monkey brain. Monkey brain is like the dog Doug in Disney’s Pixar movie Up. Every time he hears the word squirrel and then he goes all over the place. That is how I felt.
I couldn’t attend to just one thing because something else always got my attention. Happily, that got better. I could focus and I started completing projects. I was able to carry them all the way without worrying about what the next item was. I could sit and give somebody my full attention. I’ll tell you what, my wife and kids really love this aspect. My memory started to improve too. My family will probably tell you I still misplace my reading glasses; Which, I still do. I’m constantly looking all over the house for them.
But….. what I started noticing, as far as my memory goes, wasn’t where I left my car keys or reading glasses…… I noticed I could recall conversations better. It was as though I had less clutter in my brain. I could really think and my thoughts were more coherent! They were more clear to me.
What was happening you ask?
I was slowing my brain down and that made all of my thinking clearer. It felt as though meditation removed all of the junk and created room and space so I could breathe and think. Conversations became more fun and engaging. There were no more distractions.
Research shows that meditation does leave people to be more kind and thought.
I did and do notice that. I truly believe it does make people more aware of other people’s feelings when they meditate. That in turn, makes you want to be more positive with those around you.
That’s a huge benefit!!!
Another major benefit???
It improves sleep. That was a big plus for me. Sleep is huge if you’re trying to heal. I don’t care if you are trying to heal mentally, physically, or spiritually; With any kind of healing, sleep is required. You need seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every single night. I don’t care if you think that you can get by on four hours of sleep. Quite honestly, you are doing your body a disservice and will create an unhealthy pattern.
Sleep is huge; It is when your body produces growth hormones which your body needs in order to repair itself. That only happen as you go through the different REM sleep cycles. You have to have that rapid eye movement portion the sleep cycle. You only stay in those for short periods of time. After that, you breath and then start cycling again. The longer you stay asleep, the more of those REM cycles you have and the more growth hormone your body produces. With more hormones your body can heal itself more.
If you only sleep three or four hours of sleep, wake up, and then try to fall asleep again, you have interrupted sleep. This happens because your mind keeps waking you up. If you have this problem, you must try meditation. I guarantee you; It will help you.
It has been well-documented that those who are in chronic pain have a nervous system that is out of balance. This creates their sympathetic to be way more active and create all that cortisol. Creating those stress hormones triggers pain that increases chronic inflammatory levels which in turn can affect intestinal health.
Meditation helps to calm and rebalance it.
Meditation is easy to do. It can be done anywhere, by anyone. I just gave you the recommendations of some apps. You don’t have to have any special training. All you need to do is have three to five minutes. Put yourself in a quiet room, lay down, and turn on the app or use a guided meditation. That’ll be really helpful.
Another great benefit these apps taught me is how to breathe. They taught me to slow down using the deep diaphragmatic breathing during meditation that seemed to help and speed up the effects of the meditation by calming my body down.
How do you practice deep breathing? Why does that even matter with meditation?
Those are really great questions that, guess what, we’re going to cover next time! We’ll go into deep breathing on our post.
If you’re having any trouble with getting your body right from back pain, headaches, or even shoulder pain and feel like you need a little bit of help…. You can set up a breakthrough exam session just by going to the webpage HERE.
As always, I really like leaving you with inspiring and thought-provoking quotes. So, from Charlotte Swindle,
“On tough days you gotta have heart. Don’t quit, whatever you do, persevere.”
I’m going to let you guys think on that one. Until next time. Power Your Life and keep moving forward.