I've had very little free time in the past days for posting outside of Facebook, but I wanted to write this for WPD to share something that has greatly improved my quality of life, it helps me to manage stress and significantly increases my level of happiness. I'm talking about a legal and drug-free way: meditation.
First of all, I'm going to start with the fact that I'm not inclined to anything about esoteric, folk-medical, or scientifically improbable. I consider those as ways to make money with the naivety of people in need. In other words, I'm a rationalist and a skeptical person.
The first thing I would like to say is that meditation has nothing to do with mystical practices, hypnosis, or religion (although it is often considered as a regular practice of Hinduism and Buddhism, which can be safely discarded).
Meditation is a technique to disconnect from the flow of thoughts, which gives a deep rest in a short time, and consequently increases the level of so-called "hormones of happiness", as well as the levels of calmness, sleep quality, tilt control, and it can even reduce alcohol consumption, among other things
This correlation has been proven by scientific researches. Being strict, meditation is not a skill which requires effort and not a sacred truth in order to understand its essence. To meditate the only thing that requires training is the building of habits and perseverance, but we will talk about it later.
For those who prefer to check the facts (and that's the way it should be), here is a link to the research.
First I'm going to start with my personal experience and the background.
Panic attacks, tilt, and this is it
I played poker professionally for 7 years before working full time at WPD.
Poker was taking a lot of strength and energy, literally sucking my life away. Eventually, it became a daily duty. The typical situation where the profits have ceased to increase the subjective level of happiness and the losses ruin your day. Multiplied by downswings and downswings. I think many of you know what I'm talking about. In the course of that time, the mouse was broken, then the monitors, and time later the entire room :)
I released negative emotions with alcohol, for a short-time it helped me feel calm and in the end, it drove me over more stress after all.
At some point, the constant nervousness turned into a chronic anxiety state, and then into panic attacks.
I won't go deep on PA. Those who suffer or have suffered from this disorder, already have an idea of the symptoms. And for others, I will limit myself to the fact that these are attacks of sudden and uncontrolled panic, as a consequence of the low level of serotonin in the brain and it's the background of an anxiety disorder. In short, nothing pleasant.
I stopped grinding, almost didn't eat, I was lying on the couch for days. It happened throughout a month. It was even difficult take a shower, I couldn't leave my room for 3 days.
Somehow, in a completely random way, after being aware of my condition, a friend of mine recommended me a person who was a mentor of Transcendental Meditation. At that point, I was in a position where I had nothing to lose, so the next day I went to the other side of the city for my first lesson, which in fact already seemed to be a great achievement.
As soon as Nicholas saw me (I don't remember his name, let's call him Nicholas), he immediately said:
- "I know what you're going through. Don't worry, this will pass".
I was strained by such bold campaign promises. I thought that everything was very complex in my case.
For half an hour, I watched a film about the TM's founder — master Maharishi, a bearded Indian, like a mix of Osho and Charles Manson. The documentary didn't impress me much.
Well, you know, Indian bearded gurus are no better than our physics and other sects. And the scene itself — I was sitting in a chair watching an enlightened teacher, who didn't inspire me confidence and instead caused a panic attack.
After the end of the first part of the documentary, Nicholas who was sitting opposite me described the basic concepts of having non-thought, awareness, attention, and self-control. Then he gave me a personal mantra — a word devoid of meaning (like a personal QR code) and held the first 20-minute session of guided meditation. That is when the coach is with you and helps you to "manage the trip".
For several minutes, I obediently recited to myself the abracadabra given to me, and then suddenly a strange thing began to happen. The mantra began to "dissolve" (yes, I know it sounds crazy). Sometimes I have caught strange states of half-asleep, euphoria, being at the same time in a state of rest and focus.
In resume, it is very difficult to describe the experience. When the session ended, I opened my eyes, we discussed my first "trip" and I agreed on a second lesson the next day.
I walked out of the building, I got into the cab, and as amazing as it sounds, I never had a PA again. True word.
Inside me, I was quiet and measured. Movements became slower and the concentration increased. Like the effect of Phenotropil multiplied by Phenibut.
The next week I passed a full course of Maharishi and the next month I meditated 2 times a day for 20 minutes. Tilt has gone completely. I enjoyed every hand, like the dawn of the skating rings, watched training videos, and in a complete sense of the word — I came back to life. This was also reflected in the results, I went back to Thailand from the snow-covered Kiev.
I will be honest, meditation didn't become for me the daily hygiene of the brain, like brushing my teeth, but only during stressful moments. I always remembered the mantra and I could quickly leave and meditate. Each time the positive effects were so clear that I thought again — why not meditate on a constant basis?
I learned the answer later — meditation effects are amplified by regular practice, and it takes to develop new habits. Our life tends to cover a wave of events and a certain point you forget about the elementary.
The good news and the reason why this post is that recently those habits have become much easier. Even for people who don't have the opportunity to take a TM course.
I have found on the Internet rare reviews about an application named HeadSpace, created by a well-known on meditation — Andy Puddicombe.
Fighting procrastination and closing Chinese poker apps, I finally decided to test out the meditation apps.
The first thing that catches the eye is a very convenient user interface (and I'm a big nerd); the training consists of short visualized thoughts, funny cartoons, explanations, and coaching audio sessions.
Reminders are sent about 5-minute sessions at a specific time, which are convenient to combine with a poker game (in MTT you can even meditate during synchronous breaks) and work. All you need is a chair, 5-10 minutes, and a smartphone.
The first 10 basic lessons are free of charge. Up next, you choose either to continue using free content or to buy access to the full database by paying a fee.
In addition to daily seasons, there are thematic meditations — to improve sleep, fight anxiety, etc.
The most important thing that HeadSpace gave me was the habit itself. I always have a phone in my hand. In the morning I wake up, take a shower, and before breakfast, I sit down for 5-10 minutes in a chair. It has become a routine.
I began to experience long-term effects after two weeks of daily meditation. Here are some of them:
Creativity - I used to write blogs, music, and poetry. Over time, 15-hours of daily work didn't "leave" time for that. Besides the urge to write, a great desire to return to music was awakened, so I ordered a guitar.
Alcohol — I decide to quit drinking to deal with boredom and to reduce stress because at the end of the day there is no need for sedation. It is achieved through a HeadSpace session.
Anxiety — meditation has proven to affect the levels of the hormones and neurotransmitter Serotonin, which reduces the concentration of Cortisol, Adrenaline, and in general anxiety.
Anger management — it is very popular in American people. With better awareness, the triggers of anger are more easily recognized and controlled.
Sleep and jet lag — I fly quite often and recently started suffering from jet lag (a condition where the body continues living by the clock of the country from which arrived). Usually, I took Melatonin, now I replaced it with meditation before bedtime.
If you have any questions, I'm always happy to help. Text me on Facebook or Telegram @iamlonga.
Love, travel, and awareness!