It was a big day in the Spring of 2004. Never would I have to walk back to the middle school building again. I was a big kid now, heading into high school. I had always been the somewhat shy type, mostly hanging out with the geeks, nerds, misfits, and weirdos. My neighborhood friend Jason was the complete opposite. He played many sports, and helped talk me into playing football the upcoming Freshman year.
I had thought about it a lot, and finally decided to dive in. Although I never played any school sports before, I had always been active. Very rarely would I be inside as all us kids in the neighborhood would either be hiking in the woods, playing baseball, basketball, or football. While the training was absolutely hellish and one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, I felt amazing and became much more social.
Freshman year of high school was the best time of my life yet. Things were going great, I was in fantastic shape, and the sky seemed to be the limit. That was until Summer of ‘05. These deep, dark feelings of self hate and hopelessness started setting in. I stopped going to football practice. I stopped talking to friends. I ate more. I slept more. I shut myself out of the world.
Eventually, I ended up getting put on Prozac, a very popular anti-depressant. I wish I could say it helped, but not by much. Sophomore year was an absolutely horrible time, and I failed a couple classes that needed retaken Junior year. The depression never really went away, and I eventually got to the point where I failed high school altogether, dropping out when I was 18.
Things were rough for several years. Suicidal thoughts were always lingering. One time, things got so intense that I just couldn’t trust myself anymore, and was admitted in the psych ward. As is typical in the medical world, my dosage was increased, and I was sent back to face reality. Things did seem to be a little better after that, and that’s also when I started diving into psychology and how the mind works.
I worked hard, and continue to work hard, developing the right mindset, focusing on more of the positive than the negative. I started working out again, and focusing on my business rather than wallowing in pity and sorrow. It was around this time that I looked into alternatives for treating depression.
Aside from psychedelic drugs, meditation consistently popped up. To be honest, it seemed stupid, and just something that monks do while loudly saying ‘Ommm”. However, I gave it a shot. For the first week or so, nothing. It was just so damn hard to focus when my mind was always going a mile a minute.
Since I was determined to make it work as there were many great stories of how it’s helped people, I kept at it. I started to get better and better, noticing that I was a bit more relaxed, and not as hot headed which can be hard to not be when you’re a redhead. Then, a few months later, something interesting happened.
As I was deep into meditating, I started feeling a small burning sensation at the base of my spine. Without spending too much time explaining when there are far better resources out there, our body contains seven “chakras”. Chakras are referred to as points of our life force, energy, according to Hinduism, Buddhism, and other beliefs.
Here is an image which details all seven:
Yes, it sounds like wishy washy, old school thinking. In my personal experience, there is a lot of truth to it. However, what’s great about meditation is you don’t have to agree with any of the underlying principles. In fact, it doesn’t matter your religion or personal beliefs. All that matters is a focus on becoming a better human being.
As for the burning sensation in the spine, there is a thing called kundalini, often talked about in yoga. It is defined as the “sleeping, dormant potential force in the human organism”. In deep meditation, as well as yoga, it can become “awakened”, going up through the spine to the top of the head, traveling higher as each “chakra” is opened.
As I sat there, this immense feeling of love and happiness took over my body. All problems, negative thoughts, fears just washed away. My mind felt like it was in another place, like I was somewhat detached from reality. I could hear what sounded like a high frequency, which was not like anything I’d picked up on before. Eventually, I got to the point where my heart was beating rapidly. I honestly thought I had done something wrong, and was going to die.
It was then I snapped out of it. Of course, everything was fine, and I had this crazy amount of energy and just a feeling of pure bliss. In just a matter of moments, my perception of reality completely changed. I was more aware of my thoughts and actions. I was more aware of my surroundings, and how great life truly can be without materialistic desires.
For a few days, it was a bit scary though. Because of such a powerful experience, my mind seemed to be in this other place, again, somewhat detached from reality. However, I eventually came back down to what I’d consider a “normal” level. Through that experience, I helped develop a better understanding of myself, and what truly matters.
This all took place about five years ago. Not too long after this experience, I slowly started to wheen myself off of Prozac. As a disclaimer, this is highly not recommended and can be very dangerous. While it probably wasn’t a smart decision, I felt that I had reached a point where it wasn’t needed anymore. Thankfully, everything worked out.
While depression never truly goes away, meditation has helped me significantly to better manage such thoughts, feelings, and stress. Some say it’s a way to connect to God, a higher power, the universe, whatever it may be. Over the past several years, I’ve had very powerful experiences, even more so than my first big experience. It’s hard to describe exactly what’s going on as it’s such a personal experience. Recently, I experienced what some people would refer to as “seeing the light”.
Are we connecting with what’s defined as God, or is this simply caused by a release of extremely powerful chemicals in the brain?
Whatever it is, meditation has the power to transform lives. We are all capable of doing it, and an orange robe, shaved head, and chanting of the word “Ommm”, is not required. I’m still not entirely where I’d like to be today, and faaaar from a shining example, but meditation has helped me realize that we are capable of great things if we just take the time to look inside.