“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
One morning I woke up and noticed a few strange red bumps on my arms—bug bites, I thought.
Then, the next day, more bumps. Within one full week, my skin went from being clear and tan to being covered with red, scaly teardrop spots all over my body, including my face.
My self-esteem and confidence were thrown out the window; my comfort zone reduced to about the size of a prisoner’s cell.
I went to the dermatologist, avoiding any possible eye contact or bright office lights, and made my way into the office. The doctor came in and I watched her eyes go straight to my arms and hands. By the look of it, she immediately knew what it was.
I’ve had Psoriasis before but nothing this excruciating. She explained to me that I had Guttate Psoriasis. In short: no magic pill to cure it. Creams alleviate it (although they never worked for me, ever). Light therapy helps, but the ultimate cure: meditation and believing that I would get better.
Just put yourself in my shoes for a second and imagine your skin completely shifted gears on you over the course of one week, and the only answer that you get from a professional with a foreign-sounding name, holding an iPad, is meditation and belief. Sounds like a load of crap, right?
But when you’re in the mercy of the unknown, and you literally feel like jumping out of your own skin, you will do anything to get better.
I’m not here to complain or give you a medical testimony on Psoriasis. I’m here to tell you how my skin alleviated tremendously in about two months by being mindful of my actions and thoughts, harnessing the effectiveness of words, and exercising the practice of meditation.
I knew that feeling sorry myself wouldn’t heal my skin, so I took the dermatologist’s advice and began practicing meditation.
When most people try meditating, they quit because they don’t know what it is they’re trying to accomplish, or even how to start.
But what if it’s as simple as relaxing?
What if you meditated because it helps you organize your thoughts, mitigate negative emotions, and maintain some peace in your mind? Isn’t that worth it? I firmly believe that the practice of meditation is the sole reason why my skin cleared up, and it also allowed me to better focus on my tasks and get them done.
Note: Meditation isn’t necessarily a cure-all, and medical treatment may be necessary; I had to go to light therapy to further alleviate my skin. However, meditation can ultimately have positive results. It will be as effectiveness as you allow it to be.
Some Tips for Meditation
Sit in a quiet room, set your environment to your comfort, and close or open the door (your choice). I sometimes sit on the floor; other times I sit in a chair like I’m at the psychiatrist.
Sit still. Take deep breaths, in your nose, out your mouth. At one point, you may not realize you’re even breathing because it happens so naturally. It’s truly fascinating, and it feels liberating.
Try to think of nothing and just be. Be the person in the room. Be you. I try to think of a white room without any surroundings, corners, or edges.
While you attempt to do this random thoughts will pop up: What’s for dinner? When will that email come in? Ice cream sounds good right about now. And so on. Simply observe them and let them pass.
Focus on what you want. For me, it was for my Psoriasis to go away—so I would focus on clear skin. I would focus on getting better and not feeling the way I did. I consistently told myself, even if it felt like I was lying, that I would get better. I adamantly believed it.
Sure, there were days I was completely down on myself, but the point is to catch yourself in the act, refuse to give into negativity, and focus on the small, positive steps that lead to a positive outcome.
Do this for ten minutes a day if you can. If you can do more, then do it.
Practice often. All you need to do is breathe.
And always remember, go slowly.
The truth is, meditating takes much practice. You learn to develop the habit of sitting still, purging your negative thoughts, and simply breathing.
Mindful Words and Actions
It’s not just seated meditation that creates positive change in our lives. Being mindful of our language can also make a big difference.
I believe that words are an influential and determining force—not only the words that we say, but how we say it.
If you consistently use negative, undermining words, the result will consistently show. If you use positive, encouraging words, you’re more likely to create a positive outcome.
I had to quit saying, “My skin is awful. I’ll never get better. I hate my life.”
Instead, I had to begin exercising mindful thoughts such as “My skin will get better. I will finish my eBook. This is only one obstacle, and if I get over this I will be stronger than yesterday.”
You can apply this to your life, your passions, and craft.
If you consistently tell yourself that you will never lose weight, or you’ll never find happiness, then guess what?
You never will.
You Have Power
By developing the habit of meditation and exercising mindful actions and words, you will decrease the stress and anger in your life and harness your personal power to create and spark positive outcomes.
When negative emotions pop up, you will know how to cope with them instead of feeding into them.
I could have sat in my room and felt sorry for myself. I could have procrastinated writing for the next few months. I could have thought that the doctor was full of it and completely disregarded her advice.
But I didn’t. I chose to be mindful of my thoughts and actions. I chose to practice meditation, regardless of how daunting it may have seemed.
I chose to put effort into getting better.
After a few months, my skin cleared up dramatically, my mood became less foul, and I finished my eBook, largely through simple, mindful practices.
You can change your life too, starting right now.
You won’t see drastic change in a few days, and maybe not in a few weeks.
I felt antsy because I wanted to get better quickly, but I’ve learned to be patient with myself.
Go slowly. Be mindful of your words and actions. Start choosing to live a more fruitful, positive life.
About that eBook I mentioned—it’s about harnessing the power of words, and it’s my free gift for you.
Photo by Urbanicsgroup
About Paul Jun
Paul Jun is a writer and author. His latest book, Connect the Dots: Strategies and Meditations on Self-education, is available; check out the book trailer. His blog, Motivated Mastery, is where he connects the dots between subjects like mastery, philosophy, psychology, culture, self-awareness, and more.