A blog by Thomas Boto, co-founder of Natural Rhythm
Meditation is (or was) a foreign concept to me. Prior to heart palpitations I never tried it. It seemed like some mystical aspiration for gurus or hippies. But after developing heart palpitations, I kept stumbling on to articles extolling the calming virtues of meditation. And then I saw an article that said Jerry Seinfeld credited much of his success to his daily meditation. Really?! Seinfeld! That sealed the deal. I had to check into this whole meditation thing. So I tried it. And of course I loved it. Apparently there are a zillion different ways to meditate (ranging from bizarre to bare minimal) but I finally found a way that works for me.
How I Meditate with Heart Palpitations
I already wrote about the breathing exercises I do (you can see that post HERE). I occasionally combine both my meditation and my breathing exercises, but I prefer to do them separately if I have the time.
Like my breathing exercises, I always have a hard time focusing when my heart palpitations are going crazy. So I use a massager and place it on my chest if I am laying down or propped up on my back if I am sitting up (this is the massager I use). The vibrations from the massager make it harder for me to feel each heart skip. Otherwise, all I can think about are the palpitations and my “meditation” time is anything but peaceful.
How I Prepare for Meditation
I also try to find a nice, quiet, comfortable spot in the house (sometimes I go into our closet where it is nice and dark and other times I sit by a window in the warm sunlight). I typically like to lie down, but occasionally I will bring a giant comfy pillow (like this one) and sit up with my legs crossed and my back against the wall or a couch.
I love good smelling candles, so I will also light candles when possible. I really think that certain smells can be comforting and bring us back to familiar, restful places. I love Eucalyptus & Peppermint candles (especially this one) and Cinnamon Candles (this is another one I’ve used and enjoy). The Eucalyptus candle is supposedly great for stress and reminds me of my house growing up, and the cinnamon candle reminds me of the Christmas holidays and just makes me happy.
How I Meditate
Once I get situated, I put my headphones on (this may be a meditation no no, I don’t know) and I start listening to music or pre-recorded reminders that I made. I use noise canceling headphones because I have a house full of boys and it’s pretty much the only way to ensure a quiet environment (if you are interested, here is the pair of headphones that I use and love. They are awesome).
For music, I typically listen to Explosions In the Sky since they are nice ambient music (It’s also great music to work to). I also listen to calming music on iTunes Radio, but I hate that there are occasional advertisements that chime in, so I have bought some calming music for my meditation playlist.
If I don’t listen to music, I will occasionally just take one thing and say it over and over like a typical mantra, but my absolute favorite thing to do is listen to a playlist of reminders/mantras that I have pre-recorded. This may sound silly, but since I’m prone to panic attacks when my heart palpitations get out of control, I like to remind myself of some of the things I have learned along the way (I will write another post about the actual reminders/mantras that I use soon) along with inspirational sayings and verses from the Bible that I’ve recorded. The verses are a great reminder that we have a purpose in life, God is good, He is the giver of peace, and he is in control.
To record my reminders, I use an app called Memorize Anything. It allows me to record a saying on my phone then put a tag on it. I have a tag called “Meditation” and when I go to meditate I can play all my reminders and verses in order or randomly (which I love). It’s been a great app for me, so I highly recommend it. You can find it HERE on the app store.
The goal for me in meditation is to eliminate the bad and put in the good. It helps me come back to center and focus on what matters.
When I Meditate
I try to meditate before the kids get up, but often times I find it even more helpful to do a quick 10-15 minute meditation break at either 10am or 3pm (or both if I have the time). It a nice break from the stress of work.
Some Meditation Tricks That I Have Learned
- Get Comfortable.
I found myself fighting around a lot trying to get comfortable when I first started meditating. Find or invest in a good pillow or chair to help you settle in (personally, I love this one).
- Start Small.
I started with just 3 minutes. I didn’t want to make a goal of meditating 30 minutes a day and then beak it after the first couple of days. Three minutes is nothing. It’s an easy way to start and you can build from there.
- Do it in the same place.
Try to find a quiet place that you go to each time you want to meditate. I actually have two places and it works out well. One is in our bedroom closet since it is quiet and dark and the other in a room that has a lot of sunlight (I love sitting in the sun, there is something so peaceful about it).
- Track your progress.
I started by making a spreadsheet and marking the time and quality of the meditation, but now there are plenty of apps that help you do that quickly and easily. Here is a cool one called Equanimity – Meditation Timer & Tracker
- Use Technology.
I put my phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode so I won’t be interrupted, but as I mentioned above I will often listen to music or listen to my reminders on my phone. But now a days there are also a number of really awesome apps and gadgets that really help you relax and monitor your meditation. One is called Muse. It is a headband that monitors your brainwaves and helps guide you back to a state of calmness. It’s a little bit of an investment, but really helpful! Here is their website and here is their headband.
And that’s about it. I guess I don’t really get to some higher state of enlightenment, but meditation does help me come back to a state of calm and peace, which is essential for battling heart palpitations.
How about you? Do you meditate? What types of meditation have you found helpful for heart palpitations?