In the last few weeks of August 2016, I started meditating for real. Summer was just about to wrap up and I wanted to increase the ‘zen’ in my life. There had been too much drinking and dancing and not enough sleeping and peace. I wanted a little more balance. I wanted a little more rest. And to be honest, I wanted to see what all these fancy tech CEO’s were all doing. I wanted to try meditation. First step: avoid all things hippy, bearded, flowy and find something secular, approachable and simple. Through a little googling I stumbled upon headspace, founded by a monk (Andy Puddicombe) who now lives a seemingly normal life in California, perfect! Someone who knows what the other side is like, but lives on my side :D
The journey began with sporadic practices once a day for the rest of the year. There were a few days a week where I would miss sessions, due to not having enough ‘time’. Of course, time is never the issue, we all have the same amount of it. The question is, where is it being allocated? How much time is Instagram, Facebook and Netflix taking up each day? Beer? After the turn of the year, I called my own bluff and made a stronger commitment to meditate daily. To hold me accountable, I began documenting when I practiced (I still missed the odd day here and there). Around Feb 20, I took it a step further and decided I was being too lazy and needed to dive all in. Practices would now be upped to twice a day and I would ensure one of them was a morning meditation, first thing before beginning my day. This was tough! That stimulus from mindlessly checking your phone first thing in the morning is blissful, however fleeting. But I forced myself to do it, and besides, I wouldn’t need to document anymore if I just made it consistent :p
Previously, the first 20 minutes of my day went like this. Wake up, hit the snooze button and scroll through facebook/instagram/email until I ‘needed’ to get out of bed before I was late for work. No doubt, many people start their days off like this, nothing like some dopamine boosters early in the day. That’s been the last 5-8 years of my life (when did phones become a thing again?). Not only was the instant overload of information overwhelming, it gave me a headache most mornings, and seemingly sucked out 50% of the energy I had to offer for the day.
Now the first part of my day goes something like this. Wake up (same time as before), drink a glass of water and put on my headphones straight away. Next, I play my guided meditation of choice for the morning. This soothing voice calms my thoughts before I start planning out the day and properly wakes me up, feeling more invigorated, not like in the zombie state I used to be operating in.
So, enough playing around, takeaways then:
It is Difficult!
No surprises here. Starting a new habit is difficult as it is. As Eckhart Tolle says, “Meditation is simple but not easy”. That makes a lot more sense now. Consistently sitting and trying to focus on your breath for an extended period of time is not trivial. Commonly, my mind began to drift towards planning the day (or life) even after a mere 30 seconds. This drift improves over time, but it still happens for me. I am able to notice it quicker and refocus again, but the struggle is real!
It SAVES Time
This may seem surprising, but I was much more likely to oversleep/laze around while browsing through my facebook feed in the morning then I am now. Not only does it save time in the morning, my attention is less scattered in other tasks. Focussing on one thing is a little bit easier than it used to be. This could easily be another point, but hey it’s only been 60 days, I don’t want to overreact just yet.
It Wakes Me Up
I’m actually awake now after practicing in the morning. This is also a little counterintuitive if you don’t meditate. There is a misconception that meditation makes you sleepier. This can be the case if done lying down, but when sitting up straight, I experienced heightened awareness and felt mentally alert early in the day. This also then sets the intention for the remainder of the day.
More Energy Throughout the Day
This probably relates to the above point. I think the initial mental alertness and not being sleepy early in the day translates to the rest of the day. Of course, this wasn’t always the case for all 60 days. There were plenty of days where I still felt like shit, but I’m talking in general terms, compared to my previous 60 days or my previous memories of energy throughout a day.
Not much elaborating required, I think I eloquently summed that up. I randomly smile more at seemingly dumb shit. Like the sun, the grass, other humans arguing, I don’t know. It could spring up anywhere!
It is Difficult
Yeah ok I cheated. But I do want to emphasize this for the beginner meditator. It’s difficult, but that’s ok. Nothing worth doing is ever easy and this is a skill that will stay with you for life. I’m almost feeding off this fact and cannot wait to write this same post 600 days from now. I’ve committed to doing this for the rest of my life, so a mere 60 days is just the beginning!
Readers, any takeaways from your initial practices?