I remember my first experience with meditation. It was my senior year of college, I had two thesis to write, and a normal course load. In other words, I was drowning in deadlines to the extent that I could barely focus on even the most trivial of responsibilities. Through various books and blogs, I’d read about the benefits to be gained from routine meditation practice (stress reduction being of most interest). With very little to lose and everything to gain, I gave it a shot. I sat on my bed and listened to this video. My life has never been the same since.
There’s a stigma to meditation. Unfortunately it gets grouped in with “new age” spiritual fluff that you might find in an Eat Pray Love film (no offense to EPL fans). That said, the actual practice of meditation dates back thousands of years. I view it now like any other form of exercise.
If you’ve never tried meditation before, the best way I can describe the experience is to imagine training your consciousness to focus only on the present moment, letting any thoughts pass by like clouds in the sky. Instead of reacting to those thoughts as we normally would, while meditating, you just watch them objectively. There are many methods to achieve this state, perhaps the easiest being to simply watch your breath. In breath. Out breath, etc.
How It Helps
Here are some benefits I've noticed: reduced stress, increased focus, creativity, confidence, and awareness. Additionally, I find I'm less reactive to sources of discomfort and stress. Need further convincing? There’s even been research done by Havard neuroscientists, suggesting that eight weeks of daily meditation can rebuild the brain’s grey matter. Above all, meditation has afforded me the priceless gift of perspective. When you’re able to see yourself and the world around you from more than one angle, you notice details you’ve never appreciated before. With this heightened clarity, I’m able to focus my energy into achieving my life’s goals.
My Current Routine
Today, I maintain a 10-minute daily meditation practice. It's nothing fancy. I sit up, usually on my bed with my back against the wall, eyes closed, dim lights, and calm instrumental music. Some days I listen to guided meditation using calm.com, others I just enjoy focusing on my own thoughts. I do this directly after waking up, or late in the evening as part of my nightly routine before bed. Ten minutes might feel too long to start. Instead, experiment with different times, music, and guided meditations, to find what works best for you. To help build the habit, I recommend using an app such as Coach.me.
In the three years since my near stress-induced breakdown, I’ve successfully incorporated meditation as a regular practice in my life. I no longer view it with stigma and find great joy and fulfillment taking the time to reflect and learn about myself through my thoughts. If you’ve never tried, I highly recommend giving it a go at least once, even twice before you decide if it’s right for you. If you’re curious to learn more about my routine, please reach out, or leave me a message in the comments below.