Meditation Beats Medication
By Jeremy Britton
Around ten years ago I suffered “a series of unfortunate events” which resulted in anxiety and depression. Talking to a psychologist seemed to be dwelling on the issues instead of moving on, and clinically prescribed medication had severe unpleasant side effects. I was placed on suicide watch by my doctor, as I was having ideations.
A friend suggested a meditation boot camp called Vipassana; they have free 10-day courses in around 80 countries and I managed to find a retreat location an hour from my home. I decided to take my friend’s advice and do the course: it was free food and free accommodation for ten days, and if it did not work out, I could always resume my suicidal tendencies the following week.
The first 3-4 days were very hard, but I followed the discipline and persevered. Days 4-10 were significantly easier as my body and mind adapted to the self-care routine.
Upon returning home, I felt a little rudderless without my daily pre-breakfast meditation, so I decided to continue to wake up at 430am and meditate for an hour before starting my day.
I was fortunate enough to live within walking distance to the beach, and decided to meditate down in the sand dunes with the sound of the ocean blocking any distractions.
As the sun rose over the ocean, I took a picture and posted it to Facebook; sharing with my friends the joy I felt as a new day dawned. When I checked Facebook several hours later, the picture had drawn many encouraging comments and appreciation from others who simply felt good seeing a picture of a sunrise (rather than other people’s ubiquitous sunset pictures)
The next day I followed the same routine: up at 430, walk to the beach, meditate for an hour in the dunes, and post a sunrise picture to social media. Then the next day, and the next.
I was doing this for my self, to make myself feel better and happier, but somehow it made others happy also. I kept going and over time, started to attract followers who showed up in person to meditate with me.Some days I was alone, some days I had five or six people who showed up. There was never an agenda or plan; everyone just knew that I would be at the same spot at sunrise every single day.
Over the next few years, I clocked up over 1500 check-ins and 1500+ sunrise photos. When I hit the milestone of 1000 sunrises, I was featured in the local newspaper, and even had a documentary film crew come to shoot some footage. Sometimes the little things we do to make ourselves feel happy, when *shared*, will make others happy also. And isn’t helping others the secret to helping yourself?
A decade on, I am no longer living by the beach, but I continue to meditate every day, and recommend the practice to anyone. It astonished me later to learn that the majority of those who have achieved success in the material, financial or physical arenas are also meditators (eg. Hugh Jackman, Oprah Winfrey, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tim Ferriss and many more). Meditation: just do it.
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