At that point, a friend invited me to go to a yoga class with him. I remember so vividly that during the course I felt like I had a body for the first time. Before that I existed so much in my head, but during this class I realized I could experience the space under my chin.
During this class, the teacher (who was a Buddhist meditation teacher) spoke a lot about the mind and suffering. He shared that we are not our thoughts and suffering is not personal. In this class I had an epiphany: it was the first time I realized that I had a choice when it came to my thoughts and I didn’t have to believe everything that came to my mind. Instead, I could observe those thoughts and then do something else. In the midst of this realization, I knew deep down that this course would change my life. So I went back the next day and the day after and so on.
I studied with the same teacher and learned so many practices that supported my mental health and well-being. I was taught the Buddhist idea that we are not just our bodies or just our minds, and this concept helped me to depersonalize my experience. So it wasn’t my fear or my Worry, it was just fear. I also learned a lot about impermanence and techniques that help regulate my nervous system, such as breathwork.
I ended up leaning more towards meditation – I was drawn to it because a lot of my own suffering was related to my mind and I wanted to understand it. After the ADHD diagnosis, I thought meditation was completely impossible for me. But my teacher kept reassuring me that everyone’s mind gets distracted, but if you really want to understand your own mind, you have to sit down and observe it. With those words in my ear, I truly committed myself to the practice of meditation.
Buddhism was certainly the gateway for me, but it also led to learning things like Polyvagal Theory1 and positive psychology. So ultimately, the intersection of science and spirituality gave me comfort.
Within that first year, 85% of my symptoms disappeared. For the other 15% it took much longer – for example, even now if I drink too much coffee the anxiety will show up. But the difference is that I deal with it very differently and it’s not something I succumb to.