As I approached the end of my Sophomore year of high school I was ready to opt out. There were some positive things at high school, like the Speech Team, which I loved, but most of my classes were literally a waste of time, and I was ready to move on. I started studying to get my GED, so that I could start taking college classes, but then my guidance counselor told me about a brand new program that was just coming into existence. It would allow me to take classes at a community college and get both high school and college credit–and it would be paid for by the school system as a valid high school alternative! This was a dream come true!
Of course this program is well known today: Running Start. It’s been a successful and established option for over 20 years in Washington State, as I’m writing this now, but at the time it was brand new and we were just learning information about it in drips and dregs as it was released. What we learned is that I would have to take a test and qualify for college level classes in both Language Arts and Math in order to take part in the program. So I went and took the test. I easily qualified in Language Arts, but not in Math, which had never been my favorite subject area.
The truth is that I had math anxiety. It’s not that I couldn’t understand the concepts, I just got very anxious when dealing with numbers. I could point to some originating events for this anxiety in which a lot of yelling took place, I was called stupid and books were thrown on the floor, but I don’t want to dwell on that drama. I just want to give a tiny bit of background into the anxiety issue which was very real for me. And at the time, it was the only thing standing in the way between me getting out of high school and attending college for free. I would not let this anxiety defeat me!
I studied harder. I studied math books and test prep for hours a day for several weeks, then went and took the test again. Again, my score was below the required threshold. I needed a different approach.
I decided to apply some of the meditation and similar techniques that I had been using to stay calm and deal with life in general in a positive way. I found a program outlining the steps for self-hypnosis, and modified the program specifically to help myself with the math anxiety. I took myself into deeply relaxed states and gave myself mental prompts, like “math is fun”, “I love math”, “I’m good at math”, “I am calm and happy around numbers”, etc, to counteract the anxious and muddled thoughts that I would normally have when presented with math problems. I did this program for several weeks and I noticed that my studying became much more effective. I could actually breath and think better when writing out equations and formulas. Long story short: it worked. I took the test again a few weeks later and qualified for Running Start.
Here is a very simple guided meditation that I created for a client several months ago. This is a simple relaxation and centering meditation that can be useful to anyone. In my work as a relationship coach I often help people overcome social anxiety and related issues. If there is any situation in your life that is stressful, this simple meditation can help.
Set up for guided meditation:
Relax and Be Here Now Meditation: