You have no idea how many times I’ve been told to meditate. Well, maybe you do. It seems like everyone from Oprah to your next-door neighbor is extolling the benefits of meditation of late. If you’ve ever been extremely stressed or anxious, depressed or in pain, someone has probably told you to try meditation.
If you’re anything like me, you scoffed. Why on Earth would I want to spend more time in the quiet, where my overactive mind is whirring its fastest? Why should I slow down when there’s so much I want to do?
Well, that’s not quite the right mindset. See, learning to focus despite that overactive mind (and whatever is going on around you) can only be helpful. Slowing down will help prevent burnout. And, frankly, it is uncomfortable. But learning to sit with that discomfort and not be too concerned by it is a valuable skill in itself.
So, I decided to meditate every day for a week. It wasn’t too daunting because it was only a week, and what did I have to lose? Nada. Here’s how it went.
I also happen to be getting my 200-hour yoga teacher certification right now. At teacher training on this particular day, we did a guided chakra meditation. So, I meditated. We were guided through focusing on different parts of our bodies. It was as un-intimidating as meditation can really be. And since my trainer was talking the whole time, any time my mind wandered, I came back to the meditation really quickly.
I totally forgot about meditating. Until I wanted to go to bed. And I almost skipped it, but that seemed like a bad idea and would’ve meant I had to restart my week for writing this. Nope.
I used the Relax Lite app’s 8-minute meditation before I went to bed, and I calmed down so much that I fell asleep. I guess… it kind of worked?
The yoga class I attended this evening included a meditation at the end. It was really similar to the chakra meditation, and even to the guided meditation on the Relax Lite app. I was able to focus on my breath and didn’t find myself getting too antsy about all the stillness.
I passed out again using the Relax app. I guess when I meditate on my own, I get stressed out, but if someone is guiding me through it, I just let them have control… and then I fall asleep.
I got really annoyed when I didn’t immediately fall asleep when I turned on the app, even though falling asleep is not the goal of meditation. I heard the whole guided meditation, and while I could mostly focus, I definitely asked myself why I hadn’t fallen asleep yet. Oops.
My mind was in a million different places and my apartment was buzzing with activity. Within two minutes of turning on the guided meditation, I gave up for the day. You know how some days you have an awful workout for no apparent reason? Today was like this, but with meditating. It happens.
I decided to go big for my last day of meditating. I tried to do it on my own, during savasana in yoga class. I picked a mantra and repeated it over and over as I inhaled and exhaled. Over and over. And then my mind wandered to dinner. And I brought my thoughts back to the mantra. I thought about what I needed to do before flying home the next day. I brought my thoughts back. I managed to keep focusing on it, breathing, focusing, breathing, focusing, breathing, and it was over before I knew it.
So… what did I get out of this? A lot of awareness, honestly. I’m much more aware of my thoughts – positive and negative, judgmental and kind – and my breath. I like to think that continued practice of meditation will help me to halt racing, anxious thoughts and to notice the times when I’m spiraling into self-destructive thought patterns.
The verdict: I don’t think meditation is a waste of time and it doesn’t have to take much time. In fact, I’m planning to make a regular practice of it. If you want to live a little more intentionally and be conscious of your own mind, give it a try. Headspace, Relax Lite, and Calm are all great places to start.
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