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Woman Meditating
<<First Name>>,

When you are recovering from a TBI, your mind can be easily overstimulated and overwhelmed. And this can lead to anxiety, depression, and frustration. 

It's normal to face have these challenges. The challenge that comes with them is how to slow your mind down and find some calmness.

One of the tools I found later in my recovery process was meditation. Before you think I'm going to go all new agey, let me tell you that I'm not a new agey kind of guy. The simplest (and my favorite) way of meditation that I've found was in this article. The process is as follows,
  1. Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes, and start taking deep breaths.
  2. Pay attention to the thoughts going through your mind. This can be anything: home, work, your spouse, your recovery, a TV show you watched, etc. These thoughts are called the monkey mind. The focus of this first step is to only observe what's going on. For me, it's like flipping through the TV channels of my mind. I notice my mind changing channels quite often-several times a minute. For this first step, only do it 5 minutes a day for a week. 
  3. Once you've done this for a week, you can try moving from the "monkey brain" to the "ox brain." This is the level of thinking that is slower and quieter. For me, it still seems like the channels still change, but not so often. Honestly, for me, it took a lot of practice to be able to focus on the "ox mind." Early in my recovery, there was so much going on, and so much anger and overwhelm, that my brain kept jumping around. I still enjoyed the meditation process. Just being aware of what my brain was doing provided a lot of peace.
  4. When you are able to pay more attention to the slower "ox brain," you can ask the noisy "monkey brain" to chill out and relax. Then you can start paying more attention to the slower, "ox-brain." If you find this part to be challenging, that's normal. My ox is usually walking in the middle of monkeys that want to play, roughhouse, and go for a ride. Over time, you do get better at it.

From my experience, here are some tips:
  • I have found this method to be my favorite way to meditate. There is no one talking in the background, there is no weird music, and I can do it almost anywhere I have a few minutes. If you try this out and like it, you may want to try a guided meditation. There are many guided meditations online. A guided meditation is one that has someone talking you through and telling you when to breath. There can also be background music. Some people prefer guided meditation because it gives them something to focus on. For me, I find the extra stimulation distracting. Try different approaches, and do what works for you.
  • Be patient with yourself. You might not notice anything the first few days. Then on day 4 or 5, you might notice that you can be a spectator to your thoughts. It is quite surprising to realize how much noise goes on in our minds when we pay attention to it. Start with 5 minutes a day as explained in step 2. As you get better, you can try doing it for longer. If it takes you longer to get there, that's OK. You are healing from a TBI.

If you try this out, I'd love to hear how it works for you.

Take Care,
Marc
 
Looking for some support for you or a loved one? Having a rough day and need to vent? Looking for good information to help with the recovery process?

Good news! You can find all of this, plus a small, intimate group of people (survivors and caregivers) who are also on the path of brain injury recovery, in my private Facebook Group. I keep it private, so only other group members can see what you post. 
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