I always begin writing each post with the same premise in mind, “bipolar is as individual as the people that suffer from it”. Therefore, whatever is suggested as a way of managing bipolar disorder and its symptoms or the tools to use for bipolar management, I know those strategies or tools are not going to work for everyone. At best they can only be a starting point for some people. This is true when dealing with the subject of meditation. The benefits of meditation as a management strategy for emotions have been well studied and proven beneficial. It is the HOW that never seems to be fully described.
Most bipolar sufferers encounter this statement, or something like it, during treatment. “Meditate daily to expand your awareness and to accept triggered feelings by becoming aware of these feelings.”
“That’s all well and fine, but how do you meditate?” Is the usual response.
The therapist or counselor goes on the describe some form of meditation that does not work for the bipolar sufferer, like deep breathing, a form of Vipassana meditation.
The word meditation is kind of like the words art and sport. Most five-year-olds consider their latest finger painting, “art” and many seniors consider lawn bowling a sport. The same is true with the word meditation. There are many styles of meditation and finding what works for you is a process that requires experimentation.
This was proven quite profoundly in the lives of myself and my girlfriend. I suffer from BP 1 and my girlfriend suffers from BP II. In my own life after much experimentation with many styles that never worked. I created my own style of meditation called Active Thought Replacement which combines affirmations with motion. This is somewhat in the style of Tony Robbins but not as intense.
This style just did not work for my girlfriend, but she did not give up. She took a class that went through eight different styles of meditation, none of which seemed to work for her either. Then she literally stumbled across Guided Meditations on YouTube and she found this type of meditation worked for her. Written guided meditations do not work as well for her so she listens to one or more audios of guided meditations each morning and is noticing better control of her moods and improvement in her handling of life in general. That is the real goal of meditation no matter the style, to create an improvement in our mood control and improve how we handle our lives in general. Moving towards always being peaceful and contented.
As proven by both my girlfriend and myself to get to the benefits of meditation you may have to experiment with many styles of mediation and in some cases, like mine, you may have to create your own.
If you are wanting to reap the benefits of meditation but are struggling with the HOW of meditation and which style is best for you, here are some suggested styles for beginners and their definition.
Affirmations – The best definition of affirmations was given by the late, great Mohamed Ali. “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”
Combining affirmations with exercise or simple chores is what I practice.
Louise Hay’s “I Can Do It” is a great starting point for this type of meditation.
This can also be described as:
Guided Meditation – Is defined by Wikipedia as, “a process by which one or more participants meditate in response to the guidance provided by a trained practitioner or teacher, either in person or via a written text, sound recording, video, or audiovisual media comprising music or verbal instruction, or a combination of both.”
There are many guided meditations on YouTube.
Mindfulness Meditation – This type of meditation is described as “paying attention, in a non-judgemental way to the present moment.”
I found Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, “Wherever You Go There You Are.” a great starting point and explanation of this type of meditation.
Vipassana Meditation – Which is a meditation concentrating on breathing. Breathing out through the nose and in through the mouth. There are many variations of this meditation taught and practiced and whole weekends of silent meditation are done around the world.
Zen Meditation – Sitting meditation is the kind of meditation shown in most pictures. A person sitting serenely somewhere slowly breathing in and out letting their thoughts flow but not capturing any.
This is a difficult meditation for bipolar sufferers and not a great starting point, but I also know a few bipolar sufferers who found this type of meditation helpful.
Christian Meditation – the word meditate is found 14 times in the Bible. This style of meditation is to meditate on Gods word (Bible passages).
Mantra or Ohm Meditation – This is where you meditate while chanting a mantra or simply the word Ohm, or some variation of these or other words.
Both my girlfriend and I found this form of meditation annoying, but it works well for others we know.
There are many, many more types and styles of meditation. Finding what works for you will require experimentation as it did for my girlfriend and me. When you find what works for you and practice it for a while you will be amazed at the benefits. If you are a bipolar sufferer we both wish for you to find this one benefit we have found from meditation, a quiet mind.
As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our battle with bipolar disorder is not with other people, places, situations or other external things. Remember our battle for mental health will always be with our minds and our minds alone.
The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”
I say,” Work hard on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”
Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.
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BLOG OF THE WEEK:
Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well. This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you. I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by Jack Canfield
How to Realize That All Fear Is Created by You