In October 2013, my company produced a panel discussion for the David Lynch Foundation to encourage women to meditate and the reminder and importance of managing a work-life balance. The panel discussed how they learned transcendental meditation (TM) and how it changed their everyday lives. Shortly after this event, I decided all the benefits they discussed were extremely relevant to my life and I decided to go through the course to learn for myself.
Earlier in the year, I discovered that I had high blood pressure, just another thing to add to my now-growing list of medical concerns. One doctor suggested an MRI to see if we could determine the cause, which I initially thought nothing of, naively assuming it was similar to a CT scan, something I had experienced numerous times and had no difficulty with.
The appointment came and I arrived at the facility, put my name down, and waited, waited, waited. I waited some more, punctuating lost time with questions about how much longer it would be until I'd be seen. I decided to do a quick Internet search on what the MRI machine looked like and as a result, completely freaked myself out. I paced around the waiting room crying, trying to decide if I should go through with this or just walk out.
They called my name. I went in.
They told me I needed contrast and pierced me with an IV. I couldn't stop crying. They put me in the machine, told me to keep my eyes closed and that they'd put music on. They were light on the sympathy and even lighter on the comfort, kind of shocking when you consider how uncontrollably I was crying. I cried through the entire thing, all 40 minutes of it, without music in my ears and with the horrific sounds of the MRI machine jolting me back to reality.
I thought my life was going to end in that machine. It was claustrophobic and stressful and nobody and nothing was there to support me.
For years I've been asked to go down to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland to participate in clinical research testing. I never wanted to be a guinea pig so I always declined. Although I never went down there, the immune deficiency team has been extremely beneficial to my health and healing. After many years and health challenges, I decided it would benefit the amazing team, other patients as well as myself if I was to go down there. So I made the decision to go and traveled south to be with a team that has supported me through much of my health struggles. Weeks prior to my visit they sent me my schedule, which included an MRI.
I panicked. I wanted nothing to do with that machine and experience ever again.
I was told I could opt out of getting the MRI but that they would really like it for research purposes. The NIH has done so much for me that I knew I had to at least attempt it. I thought about that awful first experience for days leading up to this second MRI, but when I got to the facility, the technician was poised, compassionate, understanding, equipped and happy to help ease my anxiety. Not for nothing, she walked me through every step and asked, "Are you okay?" more times than I can count.
This second MRI experience was seamless, and that was because I was able to use transcendental meditation and recite my mantra for the whole time that I was in this awkward claustrophobic machine. With this new tool, TM, my mind and body enjoy a new paradigm of benefits every single day. On my third day in my TM course at the David Lynch Foundation's office, I was sitting in this incredibly comfortable chair from Restoration Hardware with my shoes off, feet up, allowing my body to succumb to the powerful physical reactions from a truly deep meditation.
It felt so right. So necessary for me.
That was three months ago. I'm so grateful to have a tool like TM that not only helps with lowering my blood pressure and enables me to sleep better, but also to stay calm and controlled in hectic situations.
This serves as a reminder that taking care of mental and emotional health is just as important and beneficial to your overall health and well-being. Having a team of cheerleaders and supporters whether it's a doctor, healer, teacher or coach is crucial in providing you with the tools that allow you to face your challenges and not feel alone while doing it. The journey may be challenging but the world is filled with support systems -- you just need to be willing to grab ahold of what's best for you.