A month of yoga, meditation, and my mental health.

Me taking an extended child’s pose in my friend’s garden.

In the month of June, I decided to pick back up my meditation and yoga practice after months of irregularity and avoidance. It’s been about 18 months since I began my yoga and meditation journey, starting in January of 2020 (so literally just before we were in full swing of the pandemic). However, come the end of October 2020, my practice was suffering, what with lack of motivation, being a major part of a dysfunctional support system, my wavering mental health making everything harder, my ongoing existential crisis being amplified by the pandemic, and the depression of unemployment and the lack of support I needed. Even though I started and completed Yoga with Adriene’s annual 30 home yoga journey Breath in January 2021, my practice still suffered after that series. February, March, April and May passed me by wanting to start back again but, every time I tried, I felt met by defeat. 

Then June rolled in. After months of being fed up with going around in circles, I decided to completely change my approach, strip everything back and keeping it as simple as possible. I was fed up with the cycles I’d been stuck in for months, from my approach to the job hunt to some of the more intimate experiences in my personal life. I’d been trying to set up all sorts of timetables and routines to help me feel more productive and proactive which only resulted in pure frustration and no progress. This only resulted in my inner critic becoming louder and louder and the cycle of negative thinking taking over and getting stronger. 

In rekindling my relationship with yoga, I decided to retake Breath as I was familiar with the practice but had forgotten a lot of it since completion. For my meditation, I didn’t have the Calm app anymore but was familiar enough with the structure that I felt I could adapt my own. I also created my own structure for my meditation with things I had already learned such as a breathing exercise of which I was familiar, paired with pure and simple observation. After all, an essential component of yoga and meditation is to practice being the role of the observer. I realised it was less about the what and more about the why and how.

I now use the Balance meditation app. 365 day free trial. It’s a great place to learn meditation techniques whether you are a beginner or an experienced meditator

In finding and personalising my structure, i.e., simple, stripped back, honest, curious and open to growth, I found shifts within me I’d been searching for: Increased motivation, a greater sense of ease and patience, generally calmer, and somewhat more open to the things in my life which had been (and still do) trigger anxiety, panic, and mental shutdown. 

If you’re interested in more detail about the structure of the “why” and “how”, stay tuned for my next post

I’ve found myself feeling that little bit more open to the unknown, inspired to write this blog post and work on my website. I’ve even started reading again. And not just any old book, but some pretty heavy stuff on social psychology, trauma and PTSD. Never have I ever read two books at the same time, let alone two academically weighted books at once. On top of that, since stepping back onto my journey of self-discovery, I found myself open to the odd new thing here and there which was already hard before the pandemic, and then the pandemic made it unbearably difficult. 

And if it’s any consolation, even though I didn’t track Day 1 of the re-uptake of my practice, it took me a bare minimum of 3-4 weeks before I truly started to notice these shifts. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with many of the things I struggled with before, just with an added sense of awareness which makes it easier to understand myself and my own experience.

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