Before this gets started, let me just say that I’m sorry that this is the second post in a row where I’m talking about suicide. If you’re new here, I promise my posts aren’t always so dreary! This topic has been heavy on my mind lately, and I know that someone else may need to hear what I have to say. To whoever that person is, I hope this helps.
When I was experiencing suicidal thoughts in October 2020, I was in a really dark place, and I just didn’t feel like myself. It felt like my mind was poisoning me and telling me that I was a horrible person and that everyone would be better off if I’d never been born. These thoughts followed me everywhere I went — whether I was on the clock at work, out running errands, or taking Soph for a walk, I was haunted by these thoughts. And do you know what intensified those thoughts and made it even worse for me? Silence.
Whenever I was sitting in silence, mainly right before bed and right after waking up, it’s like those thoughts of not being wanted were louder than anything else at the time. As a result, I grew to hate silence, and over a year later, it’s still difficult to sit in silence because it reminds me of that dark time last year. However, I’ve recently discovered something called reflective meditation, and it’s slowly but surely helping me appreciate silence more.
So, what is reflective meditation? It is a form of meditation where you reflect on some aspect of yourself or your life. I like to think of it as a time to get in touch with your thoughts because sometimes, it’s easy to lose touch with the real and true voice inside of you and start to drown in extremely negative thoughts about yourself. If that sounds like something you want to get in on, keep reading because I’m going to walk you through how you can practice reflective meditation as early as, well, right now!
1. Find a quiet spot where you feel safe and comfortable.
Yep, silence. You can also put on some soft music with no lyrics in the background as well — do whatever works for you. You want to be free of all distractions so that you can focus and channel all of your energy into meditating. It’s also equally as important to find a spot where you feel safe and comfortable. No need in meditating to quiet your thoughts if you’re subconsciously worried about your surroundings. For me, I like to sit at my desk at home or my dining room table because that’s where I feel most comfortable meditating. Can you come up with two or three go-to spots where you can meditate when you’re ready?
2. Close your eyes and reflect.
You don’t have to sit on the floor with your legs crossed and your hands clamped together like they do in the movies, but if that works for you, you can certainly do it. Remember, this is about what makes you comfortable. You want to close your eyes, relax your body, and just let your mind wander into positive thinking. I always start with the question, “What am I grateful for today?” I’m grateful for so many things, but my tops are a roof over my head, a loving husband, supportive parents, therapy, and a meaningful job that allows me to pay my bills. Then, I allow my mind to wander from there. Sometimes, I’ll ask myself, “What were some great moments for me that happened last week?”, or I’ll ask, “What am I looking forward to for next week?”. Sometimes, I won’t even ask myself a question, but instead, I’ll think about really amazing memories in my life like my wedding day, my graduation celebration, or that really fun vacation in Florida a couple of years ago. Those memories make me smile, and I’m eager to make more amazing memories in the future.
3. Think about how this act of meditation made you feel.
After every reflective meditation session, I like to reflect on my reflection time 😅. I know what you’re thinking, “How are you going to reflect on the time you spent reflecting?” LOL, don’t laugh at me! In all seriousness, I think it’s important to reflect on every emotion and feeling that came up for me during the time I meditated. Whether it’s a feeling of gratitude, happiness, or peace, it’s nice to put into perspective that I was maintaining positive thoughts and emotions for however long I was meditating. It lets me know that even though my mind may trick me into believing that I have nothing to offer anyone or that I’m a terrible person filled with negative thoughts and bad energy, I know that I can think positive thoughts. I know that I can offer good to the world and to those around me, and I have the proof.
4. Journal, journal, journal!
Many people don’t like to write, and understandably so, but this is what helps me during rough times. I have a composition book full of all things mental health, including what I talk about in therapy sessions, what I reflect on in meditations, and the many positive feelings that come up during meditation. Journaling and writing my thoughts down allow me to refer back to it on days where I forget my worth or get down on myself. I’ll look at what’s in my notebook and remember that these negative feelings are temporary, and I know I’ll get to a positive mindset again. Sometimes when you’re in a funk, it’s so easy to feel like you’ll stay in that funk forever, but looking at my notebook reminds me that I’ll overcome it. Once again, I have the proof right in front of me.
I honestly never liked meditating before starting this because I always thought that meditating is a time to quiet your thoughts and just sit there in silence. Maybe that works for some people, but it never worked for me. I found it incredibly boring and difficult to concentrate because my mind is always moving and thinking. I remember one time, I even tried a method of meditation where you close your eyes and move each body part one at a time very slowly. We practiced this in our financial literacy class, and it literally put my husband to sleep. We were definitely relaxed… a little too relaxed if you ask me.
Anyway, I think that while there are so many different ways to meditate, the bottom line is to relax and feel good about yourself afterward. So, the next time you feel that your negative thoughts are too loud and you can’t seem to quiet them down, try your hand at reflective meditation, or any type of meditation, to see if that helps. Remember, no matter what negative thoughts and emotions come your way, it’s only temporary.
“Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.”
– Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati