How meditation keeps Scandal star Bellamy Young sane on set

Bellamy Young

For actress Bellamy Young, playing the infamous Mellie Grant, the First Lady on ABC’s hit drama Scandal is no small feat: she’s temperamental, constantly conniving, and at times, downright evil.

But in real life, the North Carolina-born Young is nothing like her on-screen counterpart. She’s genuine, warm, and spiritually sound, thanks in part to her commitment to daily meditation.

“It’s transformed every aspect of my life,” she explains. “Meditation helps me control my migraines, hear my heart, follow my path, and be true to myself. It’s a road to self-knowledge and self-actualization. And in every regard, better health.”

We talked to Young about her meditation habits, how she copes with chronic migraines, and how she stays grounded between long hours on set. We’re thinking Mrs. Grant could definitely stand to learn a thing or two from time on a meditation cushion, too. —Amy Marturana

How do you make time to focus on your health during long hours shooting? Kerry [Washington] is such an incredible leader for us and from the very beginning, she’s always called us a team and stressed pacing and fueling ourselves to make sure we can perform at our best. She’s kept us really mindful of how important it is to get rest, eat tiny meals throughout the day to keep energy levels constant, and exercise if we have any free time.

When those rare moments of free time come, what’s your go-to way to unwind? I meditate a little. You have to do what feeds your soul and keeps it functioning at its best.

Do you meditate regularly? I meditate every night before I fall asleep. I don’t like to take my day into my dreams, so meditating lets me go into my dreams with a clear head.

You mentioned it helps you with your migraines—tell me about your experience with that. I’ve struggled with migraines for as long as I can remember. When I was younger I didn’t know what it was—I thought I was just having blistering headaches. It’s all-consuming.

Did you find a way to cope with them? I try to go somewhere to meditate and focus on my breath, be with my body and let stress go, and make sure I’m hydrated. Those all say “Yes body, I hear you, what can I do?” Hopefully, that allows me to short circuit it. If not, I take Treximet.

How do you suggest people start a meditation habit? Meditation is such a simple thing we can all do for ourselves that can have such a profound impact. The first step is loving yourself enough to make the time, even if it’s just five or ten minutes. The physiological and psychological benefits of sitting still and taking time for yourself are gifts you can (and should) give yourself every day.

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