While I love winters for the hot toddies and for having a legit excuse to wear tights and chunky sweaters (and mind you, I still do this in LA!) it does mean our days are getting darker earlier and we’re getting less sunlight. Our bodies begin to lack that essential mood boosting Vitamin D. I’ve been fighting the blues this past year, on and off, so I can’t say it’s a “winter” thing or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Most of my blues is from the ongoing transition from moving from NYC to LA, and grad school stress. While my favorite self-soothing remedies help (a glass of wine, pizza, and an episode of Parenthood. Clearly, I’m also a cheap date) temporarily, I’ve found some lasting change in two practices. Meditation and Therapy. I’d like to tell you a little more about how they worked for me.
Have you tried meditation? I’ve always wanted to, and have some meditations sporadically over the years, but I’ve only recently gotten more serious about keeping the habit.
There are lots of ways to do it. You can simply sit still and concentrate on your breathing for a specified amount of time, 5-20 minutes generally. Or you can try a guided meditation using links online. I know Laura likes using guided meditations, and I find them useful too. I’ve found that when I have nothing to listen to, it’s so hard to sit still for more than 5 solid minutes.
Right now, I’m participating in the Oprah and Deepak Chopra “The Energy of Attraction” 21-day challenge. There’s still time to sign up. It’s a free series of 20 minute meditations for 21 days Check it out here. https://chopracentermeditation.com/about-us
I put a little candle on and let Deepak and Oprah do the work.
There are also specific types of meditation. Two years ago, my friend and I checked into Transcendental Meditation, which lots of people SWEAR by, but despite the organization being a non-profit, there’s a steep fee for the introductory course, which I think is about $750. There’s a 50% discount for students, and I considered doing it in LA, but ended up deciding to wait until I had some more funds. We enjoyed the free Q and A we attended, and I really believe they are doing great work but damn if I can’t see paying that much for meditation. The thing that makes TM meditation somewhat different is that you’re assigned a mantra. (Always reminds me of Annie Hall, “Help! I’ve lost my Mantra.”)
I’m a therapy evangelist! I went for the first time about 6 years ago when I was going through a bad breakup. It was very helpful, especially when my therapist had me join a group session for people going through breakups. It was such a relief to talk to people going through the same thing. Luckily, it was covered by my health insurance with a co-pay. I think the co-pay was quite high, something like $40, but it still felt like a good deal at the time.
Now I’m in therapy once-a-week for regular talking sessions. Normally I just talk about the week and how it’s going. There’s no agenda, other than to release my thoughts. I’ve noticed that every time I leave therapy, I start yawning like a mad person on the bus ride home. Once I noticed this pattern, I realized how much I was holding in during the week, and how relaxing it was to get my mind unburdened.
Think money is an issue? Or do you not have health insurance? Sliding scale therapy is offered by a lot of psychological training programs. That’s what I do, and it’s based on what I can pay according to my salary. Since I’m in grad school and only work part-time, it was agreed upon that I pay $20 a session. That’s not bad at all! My therapist is technically a recent grad, but he’s pretty damn good.
And, ultimately, with therapists, it’s ALL about the fit. You have to feel like your therapist is right for you. Don’t be afraid to choose another therapist. It’s all about finding the right fit and approach.
So those are just two of my favorite healing techniques. But with both of them, the results are subtle and incremental over time. And yeah, some days, the best therapy is a glass of wine and a good phone chat with an old friend.