Can You Find Calm Through Meditation?
Can You Ever Be This Calm?
Meditation isn't for you. You don't have the time or the inclination. Plus, you're just not the type who can "clear her head" -- whatever that means. You're hardly the only one who feels that way: The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that a mere 7.6 percent of Americans use meditation to improve their health. But judging by the success of books like Eat, Pray, Love and Stumbling on Happiness, women are in great need of stress relief, even if they do think meditation is, well, a little weird. Laura Essie, 46, of San Mateo, California, felt that way too. Until three years ago, she considered herself "superathletic"; she hiked, lifted weights, did yoga -- until a repetitive stress injury left her sidelined with a chronic pain in her neck and arms. Her doctors put her on painkillers, nerve blockers, and muscle relaxants. She tried physical therapy and biofeedback, but nothing worked completely.
Finally, after two years of suffering, Essie found relief -- at church, of all places. "They put me in touch with a meditation center," she says. "I didn't really think it would work, but I was desperate enough to try it; at that point, I couldn't even sit still for any period of time because I was in such pain."
Essie began meditating for 20 minutes a day. At first, there was no relief, but in just two weeks she started feeling better. "I had less nerve pain, and my muscles weren't as sore," she says. She used various techniques gleaned from class, including guided meditation with a CD and meditative walking. "I snuck it in during lunch breaks," says Essie. "I even did it in the car -- not the walking, obviously! It was a nice break from my day."
Could meditation help you, too? Is it possible to do it without getting all Zen-like? We've got the answers to your biggest (and most cynical) questions.
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