Jan 14- Blood Drive

Meditation: My own: Breathing & Mantra
Length: About 10 minutes
Where: One the table at a blood drive, Los Angeles
How It Felt: Helpful!

Listen, guys. I hate needles. Like, really really hate. I don’t like thinking about them. I’m not even particularly enjoying writing about them right now. I do not like seeing them. I especially do not like being poked with them and then drained of my bodily fluids.

For years I didn’t donate blood because I couldn’t. I was both underweight and anemic thanks to an eating disorder I struggled with for almost two decades. (I write about my experience and recovery a bit at thecrazyactor.com for anyone who is curious or also struggling.) So, I escaped the dreaded needle.

Now, however, I have no excuse. In fact, it turns out I have “great veins!” Ugh. Why couldn’t I have tiny, awful veins that no one wants to poke?

All jokes aside, I’m happy I can be of service in this way now, and have tried to prioritize going regularly recently, since there is a critical shortage of blood.

Here is my soapbox moment: If you can give, pleased do! There are blood drives going all the time, and especially right now there is a serious need. PLUS the Red Cross will do a free COVID antibodies test! If I can do it with my needle-induced panic attacks, so can you, I promise! Check out https://www.redcrossblood.org/

Ok, so, to meditating. Generally I prefer a guided meditation experience, but, then again, generally I prefer my husband to hold my hand while I’m poked like a juice box, and that couldn’t happen today, so hey- plans change. I was honestly close to hyperventilating as the nurse set me up on the bed. I tried to just take deep breaths, but it wasn’t enough. I felt them getting more shallow, and I worried I would actually pass out.

I decided to cobble together a spur of the moment meditation using some of the tools I’ve picked up along this journey. Those tools were:

  1. The practice of choosing what to focus on- in this case, my breath, not the blood bag attached to my body with a needle and tube.
  2. A mantra of sorts that Adriene (of Yoga With Adriene fame) shared recently in her “Breath” challenge: “My breath is my anchor, my anchor is my breath.”
  3. The idea of finding a “homebase” (from the Calm app)- one thing to focus on while you let the rest go.
  4. About halfway through, once I slowed my breathing enough, I used the counting breaths technique Headspace teaches.

Truthfully, it helped a lot. I didn’t panic or hyperventilate. I was super lightheaded afterward and required two whole actual juice boxes (as opposed to the human version- what’s up again, Office fans??), but I was a lot calmer. I was actually more stressed about being late to return to my Zoom rehearsals today!

I’m so glad I did this, because it reminded me that meditation isn’t an activity that exists only outside my normal life- it’s something that can and should be integrated into my life. I’m learning to control my thoughts and breath and emotions and find mental space when I need it, not just when all the parameters line up for success.

Since it currently hurts to bend my arm- oof- I’m going to just leave this blog with one final thought: please, if you are able, give blood. The world is going through so much right now, but there is beauty in people coming together to help however they can. I promise it will lift you up and also save lives!

Plus, free juice! 🙂