by Ahna Hendrix, CEO & Founder of Anahata Swimwear
Mediation transformed my life and helps me actualize my dreams everyday.
At Anahata Swimwear, we strongly believe in a dedication to self-love, which means taking care of ourselves from the inside and out. The mind is a key part of that directive because it contains the power to make beliefs come true, so being purposeful about how we care for it shouldn’t be overlooked.
While there are plenty of articles outlining the benefits of meditation, I wanted to share the story of how my meditation practice came to be and why its been so instrumental in helping me overcome the scruffier sides of myself.
A little background..
In eighth grade, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Unknown to most, ADHD isn’t just a lack of focus - it’s an umbrella term for the nine types of mood disorders associated with ADHD. My special cocktail is hyperactive depression and anxiety.
Sounds like a fun, right? haha..
Over the years I tried a plethora of medicines, but despised how they numbed down my personality and turned me into someone else. However, inevitably I would find myself back on medication.
Let me stop here to say that I believe having ADHD is a gift. I don’t consider it to be a disorder or a problem. What I do consider is that the world isn’t set up to run efficiently for a person with ADHD, so it often leads to frustration, problems with focus, mood swings, and a variety of other “issues.”
The flip-side for me is that ADHD blessed me with the ability to be a multitasking pro, grasp new tasks extremely fast, be highly intuitive about the people and things, learn to do anything with proper instruction (literally, anything), have an infectious personality, and bring passion and intensity to everything I do.
In short, I love being ADHD.
But I have greatly struggled with managing the anxiety. I feel uncomfortable at large social events, can be extremely shy, it’s easy to make me feel claustrophobic, and can become anxious about, well - anything at any time. And anxiety medicine is awwwwwwful.
So a few years back, I decided to go all in on me - to give all that nutty, self-help, granola living stuff a try.
I had big dreams and knew it would require me becoming the best version of myself to achieve them. Plus, I reasoned - it could possibly negate the need for medicine. The new direction included consistent exercise, eating well, nourishing my spiritual life, feeding my mind with learning, and in the process, I discovered meditation.
But quite possibly just like you, I didn’t think meditation was for me. I had a million excuses why I didn’t need it or couldn’t do it. However, one day after returning from a business trip I was feeling very overwhelmed and went for it. And crazy enough it made a difference. Immediately.
Clear. Calm. Open. I remember floating through that day and sleeping soooo good that night. So good I couldn’t wait to get up and meditate again.
A few myths to dispel - meditation isn’t complicated, isn’t about clearing your mind, doesn’t require fancy apps and equipment, can be done anywhere you’re comfortable, and in any time frame that suits you.
My meditation practice is very simple because I don’t ever want to require stimulus to meditate. And I keep it to 10 minutes because that feels right for me.
Physically: In the morning, I sit in an upright and comfortable position (usually cross-legged on my bed), set my alarm for 10 minutes (it helps me to relax knowing there is a timer since I have a day to start), place my hands on my knees with palms open and facing up, close my eyes, begin breathing full breaths, and start the timer.
Mentally: It’s different everyday, but goes something like this.. I begin by relaxing into my seat while maintaining good posture and start feeling out the different areas of my body. I’ll travel from my feet up to my ears, listen to sounds around me, and then settle into the “theatre” of my mind where I sit back and watch what it wants to show me. I allow my mind to share anything it desires, but consciously and softly direct it back to the present when I become aware I’ve drifted off. Sometimes I’ll visualize the outcome of the dreams I’m chasing and what they look like. Sometimes I’ll repeat a mantra that’s especially needed that day, like “I am able. I am wise. I am strong.” etc. And sometimes I’ll focus on my breathing if my anxiety is extra high that morning.
Bottom line, anyone can meditate, and despite what the “how-to’s” tell you, emptying your mind is not the goal. The goal is to gradually become aware of your thoughts, aware of the present moment, and relax. When we become aware of the things happening around us, to us or inside of us, we can then choose how to handle them.
And the funny thing is, half the time you won’t feel like you’re doing anything in the midst of it or afterwards. But if you continue to trust, breathe, and show up then you’ll be amazed.
Since I began meditating my focus, mood, mental clarity, mental talk, and anxiety have improved dramatically. I have more patience, am better equipped to handle stressful situations and decisions, and am wayyy better at being mindful of life happening around me.
If you’re interested in meditation then my advice is to begin experimenting to figure out what feels right for you. Some people like being led through meditation by audio tracks and others prefer meditating for longer or shorter time periods.
There is no wrong or right way to meditate. If you simply show up and try, you’ll be blown away at the enormous impact it will have on life, and mainly, your inner life.
I hope you give it a try. Namaste.