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How Practicing Mindfulness Meditation Helped Me Trust Myself With My Disability

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This year, I have been on emotional, physical, and mental journeys to improve my entire being. I was on the Cerebral Palsy Research Network one day, signing up for an event, and I checked the box for the MENTOR program. I thought I was signing up for a program that would give me a mentor certificate, but when I went to the first day of the class, I realized I was wrong. The program focuses on mindfulness, exercise, and nutrition to optimize resilience. It’s about improving your physical, emotional, and mental health. It has been a perfect fit for how I have been trying to live my life.

Through this program, I took a meditation and mindfulness class. Having someone explain meditation and mindfulness has given me a better understanding of what I have been doing when I meditate. Meditating is often about being in the moment and centering yourself. I knew that, but I learned it’s also about trusting yourself.

As much as I thought what meditation and mindfulness was, I never genuinely studied the whole practice. When I started taking this new approach, I read up on it on the internet and understood it was a way to ground myself. I wanted to find something that helped me feel grounded. I felt like meditation and mindfulness might help in this area.

In the past, I knew the outcome of meditation would be to center myself, but I still wasn’t 100 percent connecting what it had to offer. It wasn’t until I started to take the mindfulness class with MENTOR that I started seeing that the practice of meditation can be so much more than centering yourself.

With someone teaching me to meditate and be mindful, I have started feeling more connected to my practice. I was scared to do a body scan, but that was the first practice we did. Before we did the practice, the teacher explained the body scan. As I was in practice, I realized why the practice felt so scary to me. When you’re a body scan, you are often entirely within yourself, facing your being. When I started meditation years before, I didn’t understand the trust I needed to have in myself, but now, I do.

Trusting myself has always been difficult for me. Some of the difficulty of trusting myself was facing the hard times I kept private. Still, the most significant dilemma of trusting myself was facing my disability and how it has affected me in life. I tried to “outrun” my disability because I didn’t want to face who I was.

As I understand how meditation works, I’m starting to connect with meditation and mindfulness on a different level. I’m learning meditation not only as a centering practice but also as a practice of trusting myself. There have been times when I thought I couldn’t trust myself, but because of my disability, I needed more time to move on.

Meditation makes me feel like it’s a “trusting” practice because you have to go into yourself, which can be hard for some people. When I’m meditating, I’m going within myself to talk to my inner self, and I must face every part of myself. This means I have to face many aspects of me that I don’t like. I always used to wonder why I was sometimes antsy while I was in my practice, but I understand now that there were and still are things within me that are hard for me to face. The hardest thing to “meet” is my cerebral palsy.

For years, I thought having cerebral palsy meant I was an “incomplete” person. I felt like I couldn’t have the life that others had. Over the last few years, though, I have tried to be more optimistic about myself.

What I have taken away from my meditation practice is that it’s OK to be wary of the process because it can take you to scary, unknown places within yourself. However, with mediation, you can fully get to know yourself on a level that can make you feel like you’re befriending a completely new person: yourself.

Getty image by Prostock-Studio.

Originally published: September 22, 2022
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