I have never had an MRI or any kind of operation; so what would come to my mind is what you normally see in movies. You lay down and go into this tube-like machine with lights and you stay completely still. For years, I have had claustrophobic tendencies. I prefer taking the stairs rather than going into a very full elevator and I will choose to not go to sites where small tunnels are involved. On a daily basis, I do not encounter any sorts of challenges; I can do all sorts of other things that maybe others would not: I love scuba diving (but not in caves), I also do not mind being in a crowded bus, or wearing helmets.
So, the day came that I had to have my first MRI. The thought of it at first was a little scary and I have to admit that I was worried. But, I set my mind to it and told myself I was able to do this. My doctor reassured me telling me technology had evolved and that I would just have to wear a special helmet, that made it seem much easier than what I had in mind. So, I tried to not worry too much about it.
I put my blue hospital robe on, removed any jewelry, and followed the kind lady who brought me into the room. When I entered, I saw the bed and tunnel-like machine I would be going into. My heart started beating faster; I could feel it pounding in my rib cage. I tried to tell myself that this will be fine. I followed all the instructions I was given. The room felt cold, not only the energy and atmosphere of an all-white hospital room, but also the temperature. Luckily, I was covered by a fleece blanket and felt cozy. I placed both hands on my belly and thought to myself: this will OK- think of it as a 20-minute savasana. Then, the nurse was slowly placing a sort of white hockey cage mask in front of my face. This was the moment I chose to close my eyes. Soon enough, I felt the machine move and I assumed that I was going in.
All of a sudden, the blanket felt too warm, the temperature was rising, my heart rate was accelerating, and these intense sounds all around me started; no one had told me about those. They were so unpleasantly loud and some reminded me of fire alarms. I could feel my heart pounding and my breath accelerating. And I kept telling myself: “it’s okay, you will be fine. You are OK”.
I brought all my attention to my breath: I could feel my belly move beneath my palms. So, I chose to focus on its movement as I inhaled and exhaled. Once all my attention was here, I said to myself: “Ok. Next. Now let’s lengthen my breath so that my heart rate can slow down”. So, I started counting it. Counting to 6 on the inhale, and counting to 6 on the exhale. I definitely got distracted with thoughts. At one point, I tried to imagine the loud noises were like electronic music at a festival, those are always very loud. Then, I would come back to my breath. When my inner self started to calm down, I even got to a point when I thought: Maybe I should open my eyes and take a peek. But I quickly dismissed that option: “Why would you do that? You are fine right here and now. Come back to your breath”. I had no idea how much time had gone by and wondered when this would be over, when the nurse finally spoke to me through the microphone and told me that I was doing great and that we were almost done. At this point, I was glad she did and also glad she did not tell me how much time was left. I continued doing what I was doing: acknowledging every thought but always coming back to my breath, a concrete and stabilizing part of me that would not allow my mind to panic.
This was a moment of epiphany for me. Although you can definitely feel the daily benefits of a constant meditation practice, no matter how long or short it is, you can really understand its importance and impact when you faced with challenges, emotions, and fears. I felt a level of control and at the same time of calmness like never before. It is in these situations that you realize that you can and must learn how to control your mind so that it does not control you. You are strong, you are capable, you are love; and you can face anything that comes your way if you set your mind to it.