Tag Archives: Anxiety

What Meditation Does for Me

It was March 2020 and the world was shutting down. It was the perfect time to try something new: meditation.

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Countless people tell you to meditate. But how the heck do you even do it, and why bother?

Here’s how I meditate every day, and the benefits I’ve gained.

How I Meditate

Every morning after breakfast, I sit down in this red armchair. I keep my back straight and feet flat on the floor.

I breathe in and out. I either focus on my breath or repeat a word.

You can use whatever word (or “mantra”) you like. Swami Rama suggests a few: om, amen, or shalom.

I usually go with om. Sometimes I say it out loud, other times just in my head.

Using a word can make meditation easier. For most people, it’s easier to concentrate on a word than their breath.

I continue doing this for 10 or 20 minutes. I seldom exceed 30.

Choosing Your Thoughts

Most of us inhabit our thoughts. All too often, so do I!

If we’re mad, we’re mad with our entire being. If a negative thought pops into our head, it repeats endlessly.

But increasingly, I’m able to spot that thought and stop it.

I tell myself “I don’t have to think about that.”

Then I ask myself, “What would I like to think about?” And I think of something nice, like a great dinner with friends or a cute squirrel I saw.

Your life is a lot more pleasant when you can, at least sometimes, pick what you think about!

Improved Sleep

When I can’t fall asleep, it’s often because of some repetitive thought. Perhaps I’m worried about something.

Being able to spot that looping thought and realize “I don’t have to think about that” is so freeing!

In turn, good sleep helps your brain work even better!


We live in a world of nonstop inputs. Information flies at us whenever we’re awake.

Meditation is an opportunity to stop all that. You won’t believe how nice that can feel, even if it’s awkward at first!

Success vs. Failure

A friend once told me he was struggling to sleep. “Have you tried meditation?” I asked?

“Yeah, I suck at it!”

The thing is, we all suck!

Mostly, we get distracted and don’t actually focus on our breath or our mantra. Instead of feeling inner peace, we think about how we forgot to buy paper towels.

But that’s okay!

This isn’t about being awesome. Just do it regularly and you’ll benefit.

I hope that even once during a meditation, I can spot my distraction and redirect myself. If I can do that, that’s wonderful!

That’s the skill we’re trying to build. We want to spot what’s in our mind and be able to redirect it.

Try It!

At first, I wasn’t sure I was getting anything from meditation. But the benefits crept up on me.

Soon enough, I found myself spotting unhelpful thoughts without even trying. When I stop them and redirect myself, it’s a wonderful feeling!

This practice has given me so much in just three years. See what it can give you!

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More on life:

How Camping is Improving My Life

A Wisconsin Summer With The People Who Matter Most

The Swami Who Taught Me About Politics

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Has Zimbabwe Found the Solution to the Mental Health Crisis?

Many people have experienced worsening mental health since the COVID pandemic began. Many others struggled even before. But I came across an interesting article today about a very innovative program in Zimbabwe that just might have the solution. It’s called the Friendship Bench:

This is a community-based psychological treatment programme delivered by over 700 trained community grandmothers in over 100 communities in Zimbabwe.

In a country with just 13 psychiatrists for a population of 16 million, this model has helped expand mental health outreach.

It has taken years to build the Friendship Bench model and show that through talk therapy, trained grandmothers can treat depression, anxiety and alleviate suicidal thoughts across communities in Zimbabwe and beyond.

We tend to assume that only professionals can provide talk therapy, but Zimbabwe’s experience argues otherwise. Zimbabwe has few resources and so it was forced to innovate, but we could benefit from their discovery.

Such a program is all the more feasible in the US or other wealthy countries, with our broad access to the internet and smartphones.

P.S. This is by no means the first time major innovations have come from Zimbabwe. Lyft was originally called Zimride (Zimbabwe Ride) and was inspired by ridesharing systems there.