Jun 29, 2008

Meditation and living in the moment

If you were around for a while you know my hunger for comments. While feeling better over the last couple of months, I (and my blog) survived without many comments for a while now. On Friday I had the great pleasure of finding two very nice comments... Woohoo! I inspired someone to do something about their anxiety.

A new social anxiety blog is out! Please welcome travel.trekker1 and wish her good luck in your journey. She seems like a good buddy for me so I am looking forward to more posts and communication.

And an additional note about the last blog I wrote about: Matt Ambrose at Overcoming Social Anxiety: this is a must read. It is kind and gentle. It is the best writing on social anxiety that I stumbled upon. It makes me feel good about myself when I read it.

The guys at the Mental Health Blog Research Study have their survey up and you can take it if you want to help research anxiety disorders and blogs. Email mhblog@tcnj.edu before July 10, 2008 if you are interested.

In one of the latest comments, a reader talked about how difficult it is to be living in the moment. I've been working on this for the last half an year, so I can tell you what worked for me:

- Some sort of vigorous activity that requires concentration and doesn't leave you time to drift into thinking. Ashtanga yoga does this for me. But it took a while. For weeks I kept just thinking how hard it is, what comes next, this is hard, this is easy, and when is the end of the class, etc. I'm now just concentrating on the current posture and it's great.

- In the beginning, use your senses with strong cues: eat something you really love with great attention and pleasure: enjoy a chocolate truffle for a minute or so, smell a great perfume, listen to the birds singing, or to the ocean waves. Eventually you will start being aware of all the chatter around all the time and you will feel and touch and smell things without judgment, for example smelling something foul will just bring awareness not necessarily disgust.

- Read. You will be surprised how many successful people (like Seth Godin or John Halamka) have some sort of meditative practice and preach living in the moment and utilizing the time while you have it... NOW! to do something rather than think about what you could have done or what you will do.

- When overwhelmed with thoughts, ask yourself if there's anything I can do about this right now (can you write an email, make a call, etc. to make the idea happen)? If yes, just do it, if not, let the thought go. I used to fantasize a lot about spending time with friends and intelligent discussions we would have, etc. Now when I think about this, I just smile, say I love you to my imaginary friends and then think: Hey but you are not really here so Good Bye, I'll see you next time! No beating up, no frustrations, no expectations.

And because my commenter mentioned Eckhart Tolle, here's the list of things that helped me in my journey:

- The yoga teachers training at the Yoga and Healing Center in Scotch Plains, NJ - graduation in two weeks... need go practice and learn
- A Yoga, Chocolate and Wine seminar with Yoga Dave
- A 3 hours seminar with Bijan and reading Effortless Prosperity daily lesson and trying to practice it
- Reading A New Earth - Eckhart Tolle


Anonymous said...

Hi Ileana,

Thanks for linking to my blog and I'm glad you find the articles useful. Still plenty to come, with a post about exercise/yoga near the top of the list.


CauseILoveU said...

I am so happy that I have run across your blog. I am struggling to learn more about SAD and besides the medical journals, it is hard to find REAL people that are living their lives with this. I have so many questions and stories that I feel that I want to share with you. Just even reading your blogs and about your live, gives me hope on living a great and normal life with my boyfriend.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the fantasy of having friends over, engaging in intelligent conversations, and what you did to stop that.

I too, have this "fantasy" of having a huge party with all the people I know in my life, but when push comes to shove, I can't do it. (And even if I throw a big party, I am so effing anxious I find myself hiding out in the bathroom, drinking in order to cope with the social anxiety. And if I don't have a party, I end up stressing out over it, kicking myself again and again for not trying harder to maintain friendships with friends.(Especially so when I see commercials, movies, or magazine ads of people gathered happily at some dinner party, thinking: "Why can't I do something like this?" Then feeling guilty and retarded for never being able to compare to the fantasy in my head).

THANK YOU for the courage to blog about this very real experience. I'm just now realizing that SAD is what has been plagued with my entire life!

Phil said...

This article is so refreshing-- thank you for writing it!

Yes, too little discussed or acknowledged, meditation can be hugely helpful for people with social anxiety.

It has helped me tremendously. I also go to a 12 Step program for social anxiety (Social Anxiety Anonymous) that has free support groups and literature on using meditation to overcome social anxiety, http://www.healsocialanxiety.com