I've always been one to lightly dabble in meditation. I'll go through a two-week period where I meditate once (even twice!) a day. My mind instantly feels at ease and I'm more patient with everyone around me. Thinking to myself how much better I feel, I do the only logical thing...I stop immediately.
My brain wants instant gratification. If I take a barre class, I want to know I'm getting stronger and will be able to hold a forearm plank longer the next class. If I wean off sugar, I want to experience a boost in my energy and a better mood by lunch.
Alas, with meditation it's all about the long game. So instead of trucking along with my every-so-often practice, I decided to commit to Headspace, an app that gives you guided meditations from a library you can customize according to your goals. Some of the popular picks include patience, relationships, sleep, etc.
As I set off on my "Headspace Journey," I was immediately wooed by Andy (the former Buddhist monk who walks you through the whole thing) and his soothing voice. I did five straight days of ten-minute meditations...then I skipped a day and felt like a terrible meditator. Getting back on the horse, I did seven straight days of meditation.
The app logs your minutes and allows you to unlock different "levels" after completing a foundation course. Writing this makes me want to roll my eyes - how "millennial" of me to be into an online app for meditation. For the record, I consider myself a solid member of the "Oregon Trail" generation.
But I love Headspace, namely because it offered me structure and appealed to the part of me that needs to be held accountable daily.
After seven days in a row, I got to choose my own package. I went with "patience" because of .....you know, life. Moments into the twenty-minute meditation, I could hear my commitment-phobic brain going haywire: "Why didn't you pick the 10-minute version?! You're such an overachiever."
But I sat with my eyes closed for twenty minutes. I inhaled deeply and counted my breaths. My mind wandered and I brought it back. I breathed and then I wondered what time it was. And then I breathed some more and my body relaxed. Finally, I felt like I was floating in water.
In fact, by the end of the twenty minutes, I felt a slight turning up of my lips - not a full on smile, but a sign of relaxation and peace for where I was in the moment.
And that's the piece that appeals to me the most - the idea that all I have to do is breathe and close my eyes and accept myself exactly as I am - even if my thoughts race and even if I'm feeling time ticking slowly by.
While I may not feel like I achieved a zen-like state every session or that I'm living up to my meditation goals, I know that I'm making a commitment to myself every time I sit down and close my eyes.
So whether it's three minutes, five minutes or an hour, what's most important is taking the time out of your day to simply breathe and connect.
Do you have any meditation tips you want to share? Any apps or techniques you've tried? Write in the comments below! You never know who you might touch with your experiences!
Wishing you moments of peace throughout your day.
p.s. Huge thank you to my friend Jesse Barton who consistently inspires me with tons of wellness ideas - including Head Space. Head over to mindbodygreen to read her article on how meditation taught her about power and compassion!
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