Meditation a life changer for Alliance woman

Tamina Miller, of Alliance, says she had it all, a perfect live, an amazing husband, and two great kids. “I had the life of my dreams.” The only thing she was missing was happiness. She felt there must be something wrong with her if she couldn’t be happy with all the blessings in her life.

Miller sought treatment through mental health professionals, and worked through some of the issues she was going through, and things began to get better. She also sought alternatives herself, “I think I have every self-help book ever written.” One thing she kept seeing, over and over again, is recommendations for meditation, something she didn’t know anything about, and was hesitant to try.

“One day I finally decided to try it. What did I have to lose?” At that point, she was sleeping just three hours a night, and said she felt like she had no mental clarity. She was prone to anxiety, and was still dealing with depression.

“I decided not to tell anyone. I just went online, and taught myself. I started with 10 minutes a day, two five minute sessions morning and evening.

“Right away, I slept through the night!” Going forward, Miller found herself getting eight to nine hours of solid sleep every night.

“It was the first time in my life, in 40 years. I’m still sleeping seven to nine hours. I stopped needing that afternoon nap, and had energy all day long.”

Four years later, and she still had not told anyone, and was still just meditating 10 minutes every day. “I finished meditating one morning, and was feeling so blissful. I realized I’m not the same person. In four years, I fell in love with my family, my life. Instead of dreading every day, I realize life is one big gift.” She says she also was spending less time ruminating about past hurts. “I had managed to let go of that negativity.”

Then she had this niggling idea. “You should teach this.”

Ridiculous, she thought. I’m a farm wife, a homebody. Then she thought, “What if I could share this gift. Other people could sleep, and could enjoy their lives.”

Miller says she feels like she’s now tapping into joy every day. “Life’s almost too vibrant at times.”

So she decided to teach. Her husband came home that day, and she told him, for the first time, about her meditation. “Honey, I want to be a meditation teacher.” He was surprised, and a little shocked, but as she explained, he soon came around.

Miller looked into certification, and said she found one place where she could become certified to teach in eight hours. “That’s not what I wanted.” In her search, she discovered Sarah McLean Meditation Institute, in Sedona, Arizona. This program included 200 hours of study, and included an in-person final session with McLean. In fact, she says, she also had to have an interview before she was accepted, and had to supply references. “It wasn’t cheap, but also not super expensive.” She says her husband fully supported her decision, and even offered to accompany her to Arizona when the time came.

The first big change she experienced was that part of her course included attending a meditation class, and increasing to a total of 40 minutes of meditation a day. That’s 20 minutes morning and night, she says. She also learned, during her course, that there’s science behind the effectiveness of meditating. “I knew it worked for me, but didn’t have the knowledge to explain why, and how, now I can do that.”

Increasing her mediation to 40 minutes a day was exponentially beneficial, Miller says. “Life exploded in vibrancy.” She says the first thing she noticed was an improvement in her memory. “The meditation was exercising my brain. I was learning to look at things from a compassionate view, and reassure myself that everything will be okay, and my memory was improving. Life got richer and richer.

“If my students only take one thing away from my classes, I would like them to be kinder to themselves.” She finds her inner voice isn’t beating her up anymore, it’s encouraging her instead. “Before meditating, I spent so much time preparing to handle bad things, that’s not living. I’ve quieted the ‘barking’ dog, and am hearing the good things. Relaxation is so much better than freaking out.”

She explains that meditation allows pre-frontal cortex growth, those parts of the brain that feel excitement and enjoyment.

It took her eight months to complete her course, she then travelled to Arizona, where she spent eight to 12 hour day sessions, talking to public speaking coaches, neuroscientists, and receiving business advice. That was three years ago this January. Since then, Miller has returned for a five-day refresher, and returned again as Sarah McLean’s assistant.

“I invited Sarah here in June this year, for a one-day seminar. She advertised that she was coming, and we had over 100 people at the Community Hall in Alliance; people came from all over the province.” She says the idea was her husband’s, and that it took her a week to work up the courage to ask. After the seminar, Miller says, McLean turned to her and said how great it went, and asked what they would do next year. “She’s coming back!”

Miller says whoever shows up to these types of sessions, and her classes, are people who want to be the best versions of themselves.

She said she would love to expand on the seminar. “Meditation is the least crazy thing I’ve brought in my life. It brought me sanity. I want to normalize it, so people aren’t intimidated by it. Meditation is finding mental clarity.”

She says she would never recommend that anyone use meditation in place of professional mental health care. “I needed to take the path I did in order to get where I am.”

She’s taught a little over 200 people in the region so far, and says, “For me, telling my story is so important. I share the story of my journey to mental health and happiness. I tell my students the science of meditation, which says that even acknowledging there’s a better way opens new neural pathways in your brain, while ruminating on the past is causing damage to your brain.

“Talking and thinking about things that get you excited actually exercise your brain.”

Miller says that during her own therapy, she put up walls. “Meditation opened some pathways. It helps me with anxiety and depression. It helps strengthen your concentration.

“Meditation allows me to be more present in each moment of my life.”

She’s been teaching for two-and-a-half years in the region, and was getting to the point where she was putting on 1,000 km a week on her vehicle.

“I’ve gone into schools, private groups of friends or co-workers, and teaching classes.” She and her husband decided to build a cabin on their farm, and now students come to her. “I try not to say no to anyone who asks.”

She says her classes are mostly women, with some ‘brave’ men, and she’s even had people over 80 years old take her course.

She teaches four and eight week classes. “Some people pick it up because they need it, and others are at least opening that neural pathway.

“Some people find it hard to fit in, and need repeated messages to make time for meditation. I love hearing ‘I didn’t need you anymore,’ but I also love seeing the same faces at each session.”

Miller says the most important message she’d like to share is, “There’s nothing hocus-pocus about meditation. There are different flavours, and different belief systems.”

Miller says one of her students has also taken training to be a meditation instructor, Kelly Freadrich, which she’s thrilled about.

“My husband said, two years ago, what is this meditation stuff? He’d had a long day, and dealt with a lot of difficult situations. Now he meditates with me daily, too.”

“I don’t tell people ‘you have to meditate,’ I just tell them what it did for me. That’s my personal experience.

“I don’t know what you need, I’m just handing out tools. There are so many distractions in our lives today, we need help.”

Originally published in the August 8 edition of The Community Press. Never miss an issue! Become a SUBSCRIBER today! CLICK HERE

Leslie Cholowsky

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