Sunday, August 30, 2015

My Prescription: Meditation for OCD

I first tried meditation when I was around 8. My mom brought me to a meditation guru who assigned me a mantra. What's a mantra, you ask? He advised it was a word to focus on while meditating. It was meant just for me but in the spirit of challenging magical thinking, I'll let you in on the secret: eng. The sound "eng" said in a slow and ceremonial way.

I didn't like meditating. But I did it for my mom. I was a  responsible child. My mom tells me stories of how I'd unpack my backpack upon returning from school to get started on my assignments. Never once did she have to ask whether my homework was completed. It was done before dinner.

I meditated as the responsible 8-year-old I was but I hated when she meditated. When she meditated when I had friends over, that is. If my friends and I had to maneuver through our home, it often involved walking by my meditating mother. I felt mortified that they would get a glimpse of her in an upright, stoic position, eyes closed. 

"What is she doing?"

Clearly not napping. I could deal with napping. 

And now, 20 years later, I'm choosing to meditate. I didn't check out Yelp for meditation gurus or whip out the old mantra. I was recommended the app, Headspace as a homework assignment for my OCD.

My inner 8-year-old still feels like it's a chore. That is until I'm about halfway into the experience. Sometimes I'm annoyed by the guy's voice. Yeah, yeah, let the annoyance be there and refocus on breathing. Sometimes I find myself in the moment and it's a welcomed change from being bound by the past and future. And if nothing else, I committed to the free, 10-day trial. This was homework, and homework needs to be done before dinner.

Speaking of dinner, I just finished eating spaghetti while pausing to blow my nose fifty-some times. Appetizing, I know. 

I recently came down with a cold. This happened after a week of doing exposures for my contamination OCD: I touched public doorknobs, turned light switches on and off, shook hands and eliminated my use hand sanitizer. And that's just a sampling!

And now here I am with a cold, whether by coincidence or not, I'm not going to analyze. What I am going to do is recognize that it's an opportunity to continue with more contamination exposures. I'm not washing the bedding nightly; I'm not disinfecting my toothbrush; I'm not using Lysol wipes on everything I touch. 

Part of me worries that this means I'm going to keep getting colds but I'm then reminded of what I would do while meditating.

I would let the thought be there; I would refocus on my breathing, or the feeling of my feet on the floor, or the hum of the fridge. 

And so I sneeze, blow my nose, and put what I'm learning through meditation to practice.

Plus I got through the ten day trial! When it came time to choose which subscription (or prescription) I wanted to purchase, I checked out the price options outlined in the App Store:

The price blip is something that deserves to be sent to a late night talk show. But for now, in the spirit of homework, it's time to go classroom style with a discussion question:
  • What meditation apps do you recommend?

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