My Meditation Journey

Learning to be mindful, one thought at a time

Like so many other people, my relationship with mindfulness and meditation has been a complicated one. My introduction to meditation was in my teens when I discovered Tibetan Buddhism. I completely immersed myself in Buddhism; I devoured books and loved everything I was learning, but meditation did not come easily. When it was time to sit my mind would race, my body would ache, and I would start to beat myself up for not being able to sit. How could I be a Buddhist and not be able to meditate? 

My personal journey with Buddhism took me to California to live in a Tibetan Buddhist community. Even there, when meditation was part of our daily routine, my preconceived ideas about what it meant to meditate eluded me. For decades, I struggled thinking I was a bad meditator.

Now that I am in my 40s, I have decided to be gentle with myself and slowly rediscover my mind. I am now able to sit for prolonged periods of time without feeling like it is torture. I now look forward to my morning meditation sessions. Of course, my mind still jumps around (the Buddhist concept of the monkey mind resonates with me completely) but I am learning to watch my thoughts without as much attachment to them. In my now daily meditation practice, I am learning to embrace those same characteristics that once brought me so much stress.

Mindful breathing has been another wonderful addition to my life. Learning how to breathe into my belly has helped me work through stressful situations that I used to run away from. I’ve learned that longer exhalations signal the vagus nerve to activate the parasympathetic, or rest and digest, part of the nervous system, which also eases the sympathetic nervous system, also known as the fight, flight or freeze response. 

Learning to be gentle with myself has helped in my counselling practice as well. I am a new counsellor and when I was starting my master’s, I wondered how I was going to be present with clients when I knew how distracted my mind could be. When it came time for my practicum, however, I was amazed by how present I was, and how I was able to be completely in the room with my clients regardless of what was going on in my life. I believe that meditation and breathwork have been integral in my ability to be present. Showing my clients simple mindfulness techniques such as self-compassion has been such a beautiful way to grow our therapeutic relationship. Incorporating breathwork grounds us both, allowing for stronger connections and comfort. 

I look forward to seeing where the practice takes me and my clients as I grow as a therapist and learn to embed mindfulness more deeply into my practice. 

Shauna Carson is a Clinical Counsellor and long time meditation practitioner. Her counselling practice is informed by her mindfulness practice as well as her deep compassion for human healing and change.

Shauna’s profile and links to book a free consultation session with her can be found here:

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My Meditation Journey

Meditation did not come easily. When it was time to sit my mind would race, my body would ache, and I would start to beat myself up for not being able to sit.

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