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How Meditation Changed My Life

I am so thankful for meditation finding me during this pandemic. I think I would have been riddled with anxiety the last 5 months if I didn't have meditation to turn to. It's been my saviour.
Aug 6, 2020 | Joy McCarthy

Meditation has truly changed my life in such a positive way. I was first introduced to meditation a really long time ago. When I was in grade seven I was experiencing a lot of anxiety around the time of puberty. My parents really wanted to help me, so they suggested I see a psychologist. This psychologist had me sit down in a big comfy leather chair, close my eyes and breathe deeply. I recall thinking it was so weird but this foreign thing we were doing in all our sessions was making a difference.

Throughout my teenage years I didn't meditate. I really lost touch with it until I was pregnant with Vienna. I found during my pregnancy that I benefited so much from meditation. I used both positive affirmations and meditation to manage worry and negative/anxious thinking. After Vienna was born I stopped altogether and literally just picked it up again at the end of January because of something that happened.

The reason I really needed it (long story as short as possible) is that I had a terrible experience while I was travelling for business on my own. I got a brutal stomach virus (or food poisoning) and was really, really ill while in the Bahamas. The worst part of it was that it hit me like a ton of bricks when I was literally speaking in front of a large group of people - I passed out! So it created this anxious trigger for me that it could happen again - even though my conscious brain told me that was ridiculous.


I was so desperate for a solution because I had a lot of speaking engagements lined up for the rest of January and February. The feeling started to come over me at a talk in Burlington but I managed to shake it off but I had to beat this panicked feeling because it was really eating me up inside. Every time I was about to speak I would feel overcome by anxiety. That's when I found meditation again because I knew it was exactly what I needed.

This profoundly changed my life in such a positive and amazing way!

Then this pandemic happened, and I am so thankful for meditation. I think I would have been riddled with anxiety for the last 5 months if I didn't have meditation to turn to. It's been my saviour. Also, big thanks to my dad and my Aunt Denise because they have been practising meditation regularly for many years and sharing how much they love it. When my dad had a heart attack in 2015 he suffered from anxiety and panic attacks in the aftermath which was very debilitating for him. He was recommended to take an antidepressant, but he chose not to. Meditation was my dad's saviour too. Seeing him transform was very inspiring for me, and we've had many wonderful and thought-provoking conversations about it.

So all that being said, this is what I talk about in my latest video - my story, the benefits of meditation and what apps I'm loving too. I prefer meditation with a little guidance. Although when I don't have my phone within reach for a meditation, I can always turn to focussing on my breath. One thing I never thought I would be able to do is turn my monkey brain off. And now, with meditation it's soooo much easier. Make no mistake, most times when I'm meditating my mind drifts offs and wanders. Through this process I've learned that it's a natural thing to happen. However, noticing it happening and being able to bring my mind back is how I know that meditation is working and I'm making progress. 

Meditation for me has been about progress, not perfection.

Here are the tools I mentioned in my video that I've found very helpful:

Insight Timer: This app has more than 50,000 free meditations and I love the searchability of this app. They also have a "learn to meditate" section which is an awesome place to start. Some of my faves are Sarah Blondin and Tara Brach. 

Meditation minis by Chel. This is a podcast. Just search "meditations by Chel" on your podcast app on your phone. If you don't have an app, then install Stitcher because it makes searching super easy. I love her voice and you can choose different topics, plus they are short when you don’t have a lot of time. 

Deepak Chopra’s Daily Breathe. This is also found on your podcast app. These are super short, like 6 minute mini sessions/talks led by Deepak who always has something insightful to share. 

David Ji. Not that I'm religious but if God had a voice, this would be it. I did his 10-day meditation and found it very powerful. I think he's on Insight Timer too and I'm obsessed with his deep, calming voice. You can try his meditations on YouTube too

Calm. This is what I started with back in January. I did Jeff Warren's 30-day meditation on the Calm app. This got me hooked. I'm a huge fan of Jeff Warren and his meditation style. I interviewed him for the Joyous Health Podcast and he did a mini meditation at the end . Calm has a free trial but I paid the yearly fee for it because I do the "daily meditation" every single day. There are also "talks" on this app and the Lebron James one was AMAZING!!! I've listened to it more than once because I have it saved in my "favourites".

Ten Percent Happier. The guy I just mentioned above - Jeff Warren - has meditations on this app. I love this one too because it has so much content. You can do a free trial and then decide if you want to pay the yearly fee for it. 

The Honest Guys. They are on Youtube. I did their meditations when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I was so thankful for them. My dad told me about them because he is a big fan!


I know meditation can seem intimidating and many people give up on the first try because they think they can't do it because their mind wanders. -- THIS IS NORMAL. One thing I've learned is that there is no "right" way to do it. You don't have to have a meditation cushion, you don't have to sit a certain way and you don't have to be perfect. I am not perfect and I sit how I feel comfortable. Do what feels right for you and remember it's about progress not perfection. 

Joy xo

Ps. Be sure to check out one of my favouite meditation teachers Jeff Warren on the Joyous Health Podcast

Julie Daniluk   •   August 7, 2020

What a fantastic post Joy! I love all the app choices! Meditation has changed my life too and crushed stage fright so many times.

Joy McCarthy   •   August 7, 2020

Rachel   •   August 11, 2020

This is amazing Joy.

Joy McCarthy   •   August 13, 2020

Anna P.   •   August 11, 2020

Thank you so much, Joy! This is a wonderful resource to reference. I am needing to make time for meditation in my life again during these unsettling times. xoxo

Joy McCarthy   •   August 13, 2020

Marilyn   •   August 12, 2020

Hi Joy. I use Hay House Meditations, Eckhart Tolle Meditations

Joy McCarthy   •   August 13, 2020
Sina   •   October 23, 2021
Joy McCarthy   •   October 25, 2021

Maurs   •   August 14, 2020

Hi Joy, A friend introduced me to a yoga that resonated with me, around 10 years ago. Meditation is a big part and uses mantra to support the meditation. I have a daily practice including meditation and find that it carries through my day, not just when on my mat. I adapt it to fit my day, it is like a shower for the mind and helps me get ready for the day. When my thoughts don't serve me, I can use the mantra to bring myself back to positivity at any time. There's also the huge impact that meditation has on our surroundings. Love it!! Thank you for this info.

Joy McCarthy   •   August 17, 2020

Chel   •   November 28, 2020

Joy, thank you for sharing your story. I am sure a LOT of people can relate! Thank you also for sharing my little Meditation Minis podcast with your followers. I appreciate you so much!

Joy McCarthy   •   November 30, 2020

Sonja   •   December 9, 2020

Thank you for sharing this with us. Exactly what I needed right now. I will look into the apps. Great! Thanks a lot, Joy!

Joy McCarthy   •   December 9, 2020

Sina   •   October 16, 2021

Hey Joy, I’ve tried meditate and it doesn’t work for me yet. Maybe I haven’t found the right one? Too many other thoughts pop into my head or I’m not able to visualize. When you first started, what did you start with? How long did it take to be able to do it?

Joy McCarthy   •   October 19, 2021

Denise   •   November 16, 2021

Hi Joy, Thank you for being so honest with your life. One of the miracles about meditation is that you can do it anywhere and pick it up anytime. It's like riding a bike, you never forget how to do it and realize what joy it brings! Through my journey, I found that meditation has calmed my anxieties and I learned to accept the "monkey brain" chatter. Please keep sharing and opening up platforms for people to hear we are not alone. xxxx


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