• A few years later while studying at university, I was grappling with some big life changes. (E+)Source: E+
After a few sessions, I started feeling happier, and able to control my emotions which improved my moods and focus.
By
Rashida Tayabali

27 Jul 2020 - 9:50 AM  UPDATED 22 Apr 2021 - 2:50 PM

I first came across meditation in Kenya over 20 years ago.

On a school trip, a group of us wandered into a stall set up by the Brahma Kumaris, an organisation that advocates meditation. A soft-spoken Indian woman wearing a white sari encouraged a few of us to try it. We sat down and she led us through a guided meditation. To everyone’s surprise, a few girls (me included) burst into tears when it ended.

Personally, I had an out-of-body experience and felt as though I’d been floating around the room. It was unlike anything that I’d ever experienced before. We stumbled out of the stall in a daze, promising never to try it again! I tried to make sense of the experience and couldn’t, because I didn’t know anyone who meditated or could explain it to me.

Personally, I had an out-of-body experience and felt as though I’d been floating around the room.

A few years later while studying at university, I was grappling with some big life changes. As a result, I suffered from anxiety and insomnia and was unable to focus on anything. After sleeping poorly for weeks, I decided to try meditation because I’d read about it in some book.

I didn’t even know how to meditate properly (the days before Google), so I just sat in my room every night before going to sleep, and breathed in and out until my mind calmed down. 

After a few sessions, I started feeling happier, and able to control my emotions which improved my moods and focus. To my surprise, I started sleeping better at night and my anxiety slowly reduced. I felt much calmer and could go about my day without falling into a downward, negative spiral. 

Many research studies have shown that meditation helps in improving one’s mental and physical health, increases our empathy or kindness levels, boosts our problem solving and decision making skills, reduces stress levels and increases focus. 

Sadly, I didn’t keep up my meditation once my life got back on track. Soon, I moved to Australia and became busy studying, working and exploring a new way of life. 

Sadly, I didn’t keep up my meditation once my life got back on track. Soon, I moved to Australia and became busy studying, working and exploring a new way of life.

I did think about meditating on and off over the years, but apart from the occasional yoga session, I never got back into it. 

Recently, I’d been struggling with some of life’s big questions. I was feeling demotivated and discouraged. Unexpectedly, a good friend added me to a 21-day meditation challenge on WhatsApp. 

As my finger hovered on the 'leave group' option, I paused. I didn't want to hurt my friend's feelings, and it reminded me of how much I’d thrived using meditation years ago. So, I decided to commit to it for the 21 days, curious if it could help me again this time.

I started meditating every day after school drop offs, even during busy weekends. The tasks challenged my beliefs and ideas, the meditation audios explored different ideas on abundance, gratitude, spiritualism and letting go. 

I often listened to the audios twice in a day and took a few minutes out to reflect and think afterwards. On the days when I didn’t meditate in the mornings, I meditated before going to bed. More than anything, it was a chance for me to sit in silence (quite rare with two kids), and calm my mind.

By day four, my sleep patterns started improving. Before, I used to find myself suddenly awake and staring at the ceiling all hours of the night.

After meditating, I found my creative energy flowed easily and I could write all day, sometimes into the night without feeling tired or sleepy.

What really changed was how I worked during the day. Before, I’d find myself distracted between different things, and feeling drained out if I spent a few hours writing for just one client. After meditating, I found my creative energy flowed easily and I could write all day, sometimes into the night without feeling tired or sleepy. In fact, I finished a first draft of my first novel during this time!

I also began noticing how if I set goals, then things happened along the way to help me get there. This might sound a bit woo-woo to you, but I put it down to developing a single-minded focus and directing energy to the right tasks. My brain became better at cutting through noise and life clutter.

Good ideas became more frequent and I started implementing them in my business, which also changed. I was more productive and proactive when faced with situations, and I managed my emotions better too.

After the 21 days, I added meditation to my morning routine and I’m sticking to it this time. Ommmm...

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