6-month Meditation Milestone
Today marks my six-month milestone of meditating for at least 10 minutes a day.
When I began meditation in December 2020, I had no idea what to expect. I just wanted some relief from the day-to-day stress of pandemic, doom-scrolling, and watching the world become a flaming hellscape.
I'd tried breathwork before. As a martial artist, I knew the importance of breathing correctly and the many benefits of deep breathing techniques to reduce anxiety.
I figured, if nothing else, by meditating, I'd be giving myself the time to breathe deeply for a few minutes, and I'd be more relaxed.
A few things I discovered:
It's physically uncomfortable
When I began meditating, I could not sit still for any longer than a few minutes at a time. I'd always have an inch or hair in my eyes or some other distraction. It took several weeks before my eyes would stop twitching.
It's mentally uncomfortable
Sitting with yourself is not a feel-good experience all the time. In the quiet observation of how your mind works, you end up facing a lot of your own flaws and personal demons.
It's both relaxing and hard
When you begin, the more you try to quiet your mind, the noisier it can seem. Plus, you have to buy into the practices, and certain types of meditations, such as affirmations or loving-kindness (worst name ever) can feel difficult and awkward.
But to gain the benefits, you have to engage and be ready to receive.
You grieve... WTF?
A lot of meditation is learning to not let your thoughts/emotions control you, but to observe them, and realize our perceptions are often flawed. Once you learn this technique of stepping outside yourself, you realize how much time and energy you've wasted being fruitlessly angry, holding grudges, being negative, etc.
Meditating is hard work, and after 6 months, I still have sessions where I can't focus or I fidget or can't find my breath or my eye twitches nonstop...
I've found there is no perfect meditation. There is no time I sit where my mind doesn't distract me with stray thoughts, because that's how minds work.
But I'm showing up and that's what counts.
It's worth it to find I am less stressed. I am more resilient. I am kinder to myself and to others.
I've developed techniques to alleviate stress and anxiety, and I find I recover from bad news/events more quickly. I've had some chronic pain throughout my life, too--a result from karate injuries and being hypermobile--and meditation has helped me cope with that and the anger that coincides with being in pain.
Daily, I feel more happiness and more joy. I don't react on emotion (esp. anger) as much, and I'm trying to make the most of my time and experiences. I am generally more aware and alive.
Here are the two meditation apps I use, and I'd recommend either for the beginner. Oak is free, and Balance is offering a year free during the pandemic.
Oak is a great basic, no-frills app, and it's free. I use the Unguided Meditation in the morning for 10 minutes because I like the Om sound, and you can also set bells at certain intervals. So soothing!
At the beginning of my practice, I did the Meditation Mantra class, and I really loved the technique of using a mantra to find calm in the midst of anxiety.
Balance is my go-to app for my daily practice. I use their Wake Up meditation first thing in the morning because it's only 5 minutes, incorporates ocean waves, bird sounds, or chimes to gently wake you, and also includes some gentle stretching.
Around 1 pm, I'll sometimes use the 5-minute Midday Reset if I'm feeling fatigued or out of ideas.
In the evenings, I do a 15-minute meditation of some kind. Right now, I'm working my way through the many plans Balance has: Foundations, Advanced, Happiness, Productivity, Pain, etc.
Balance also has a number of Immersive meditations (Storm, Ocean, Forest), and I love them. They make your phone vibrate, which is very calming. I use them when I feel particularly stressed or when I want to practice visualization, a great tool for writers and creatives, by the way.
For kicks, here are my 6-month meditation stats:
Hours: 39 hr 30 min
Current Streak: 183 days
Hours: 46 hr 47 min
Current Streak: 145 days
Hours: 86 hr 17 min
I'd love to hear about your favorite meditation apps, techniques, and experiences.
Next time, I'll write about the idea of happiness being like a well, and how to use the things you love to store up your own personal happiness. See you soon!