The practice of meditation in some form has always been a part of my life. Growing up, my father would meditate and often speak to my brothers and I on the importance of the practice for the health of the connective relationship between mind, body and soul. As a child, I could not fathom this, as I was always talkative and a walking stream of consciousness to all who would listen. As I entered college and a whirlwind of responsibilities surrounded me, simply slowing down my mind and thought process became a topic of interest for me.
My first memory engaging in my newfound interest was reading a book my father gave me: “The Art of Happiness” by the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D. While I found the book insightful at the time, it wasn’t until much later that I really grasped the concept and started to implement those values in my everyday life.
After obtaining my master’s degree and entering dental school, my now fast-paced and demanding life quickly showed to be something I needed to address mentally from a different approach. Being present, mindful, concentrating on the task at hand, filtering out anxiety-causing thought loops and winding down to gain a good night’s sleep became my top goals.
Interestingly, my practice with meditation began by listening to meditation music on Spotify. With this, I first learned that the commitment to a routine was as important as the method used to meditate. Dedicating 15 minutes every morning, I started to see a change in concentration and focus throughout the day. Evolving this method, I moved on to guided meditation through the Calm app, which offers different meditations aligned with happiness, gratitude, self-esteem, anxiety and sleep.
While it was one of my initial goals, sleep meditation has been a recent addition to my routine. I often have a hectic schedule and tend to fall into habits of overthinking events of the day and what is upcoming, sometimes getting into a spiral of what-ifs that cause anxiety and make sleep nearly impossible. This part of the app has been peaceful, calming and always helps me quiet my mind and get a restful night of sleep (it also has a timer in case you nod off during a session). People commonly feel fatigued from all that our minds have to unpack from a long day, and this exhaustion clouds the ability to re-center oneself mentally before starting the next day refreshed.
I also have been listening to “How to Meditate,” a 30-day series by Jeff Warren on Calm. His honest and raw approach uses his personal journey to present the topic of meditation in an engaging and tangible language. I find myself hanging on every word. Meditation is personal and can be a spiritual practice, so when searching for a form of meditation, think about what drives you to be present and will give you the clarity of concentration on the facets of life that are important to you.
My journey with guided meditation has taught me to be present, less anxious and more mindful. It has shifted the way I view many circumstances toward empathy and compassion, seeing the similar internal struggles that others are going through. I needed to exercise this part of my spirituality — being kinder to myself in the now, while working toward achieving my personal and professional goals.
I hope that you, too, will benefit from meditation as I have. It has given me the clarity, relaxation and focus to maintain better balance. This relationship between the mind and body has also helped me reduce my blood pressure, especially during times of high stress. It’s a centerline and a way to manage your thought process so you don’t become easily overwhelmed. I continue to grow and adapt and learn new forms of meditation as my life changes, keeping an open mind, and continually learning is part of the process.
~Faith Botana, Georgia ‘22