In January, one of my goals for 2016 was to start meditating. For Christmas I got a new journal that said “be mindful” on the cover and I really wanted to actually start, well, being mindful.
I was watching a Ted Talk, All It Takes Is 10 Mindful Minutes by Andy Puddicombe, and he talked about the brain in a way that I had never thought of before. He compares our thoughts to balls being juggled and explained that mediation helps the juggling happen smoothly and evenly, without become chaotic or frantic. As someone who struggles with mild anxiety and chronic over thinking, a less chaotic mindset was very appealing to me.
From this Ted Talk I ended up finding Andy’s meditation app called HeadSpace, which I used for 10 days. The app is free, but you are only allowed access to the 10-Day beginner program called Take 10. After you complete the program you have to purchase a subscription which I thought was a little pricey, so now I only use the Take-10 program on HeadSpace whenever I need guided meditation to help me focus and wind down.
10 minutes a day. It sounds super simple, until you’re sitting in your room fidgeting thinking about what you’re gonna have for breakfast. I had never actually thought about how hard it would be to not think. Its pretty freaking hard. When I first started (and ok even still) I feel like Liz Gilbert from Eat. Pray. Love. when she is in India trying to find her balance through meditating, but all she can do is think about how to decorate her meditation room back in New York.
What I really liked about Andy’s guided meditation on HeadSpace is that he emphasizes that it is okay if the mind wanders. So don’t beat yourself up about it if you can’t stay focused the whole time, because you’re really not supposed to.
So here’s what I do:
- I meditate either 10 minutes in the morning or 10 at night, sometimes both.
- A lot of times forgetting to meditate is my greatest struggle. The morning, in particular is easy to forget because I’m usually just rolling out of bed to get ready for class. So if I plan on meditating in the morning, to prevent skipping a meditation, the night before when I am unmaking my bed, I take a pillow and put it on the floor next to my bed (where I get in and out of my bed). In the morning, when I get up I have to either step on, step over, or trip over the pillow which reminds me to meditate. Honestly though, meditating at night is my favorite because its really relaxing and helps me fall asleep faster.
- I setup a 10 minute timer on my phone that plays the ringtone “ripples” when the timer is up (that ringtone seemed the most peaceful to me).
- I put on either my HeadSpace Take 10 or my peace spotify station (which I’ve linked if you want to check out)
- Then I sit there and meditate until the timer is up. Admittedly, there are days where I peak at the timer to see how close I am to being finished, but hey everything is a work in progress.
Here’s what I’ve noticed:
- I’m in a better mood throughout the day
- I’m less stressed
- It’s easier for me to focus
- I sleep better at night
*Of course I don’t experience these 100% of every day that I meditate. My mood, stress levels, and ability to focus fluctuate due to other factors as well, but I have definitely noticed an improvement overall and that’s what I’m shooting for.