This week I participated in a number of free classes at a local wellness center near my home. Various instructors spent one hour teaching meditation, relaxation techniques, yoga, and tai chi. During the first class an instructor guided me, and a group of five or six others, through a series of meditation exercises.
I began meditating a few years back to deal with the stress of chronic illness. For months after my initial trip to the emergency room doctors failed to diagnose me. I spent days on end visiting medical specialists who had no clue what was wrong with me. Day after day I left doctor’s offices without knowing what had happened to me or what might happen next. By the time I was finally diagnosed I had developed a significant fear of medical professionals. When a number of medical procedures went awry my fears grew larger. After awhile I was unable to visit doctors without experiencing minor anxiety attacks.
Given my medical condition, I couldn’t exactly avoid doctors for the rest of my life, so I knew I had to find a way to cope with the experience. Eventually, I found I could calm myself by listening to a meditation CD while I waited to be seen. I would sit quietly, with my eyes closed, following the instructions on the CD. The doctor’s office is still not my favorite place to visit, but meditating before major appointments allows me to relax my mind and quiet my fears.
This week, sitting in a chair alongside five or six random strangers and an unknown instructor I closed my eyes and relaxed. Tonight’s instructor asked, “what’s the value of taking a class if you don’t learn something from it?” I immediately drove home and pulled out my meditation CD. I’m vowing to listen to it at least a few times a week.