How 28 Days of Meditation Has Changed My Life

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Jessica Estrada is one of six people tracking their resolutions with Apartment Therapy in real time. You can read her earlier installments here and here.

When I set out to meditate for the month of January, I was hoping it would change my life in two ways: reducing my anxiety and cultivating a sense of inner calm. Four weeks later, I’m happy to report that that’s exactly what happened. The change has been subtle but noticeable nonetheless. Here’s how the last two weeks played out.

Days 15–22

I continued to bounce back and force between meditations (guided, mantra, mindfulness and kundalini) depending on my mood. The only difference was that every day I increased my meditation time by a minute with the goal of working my way up to 20 minutes. By day 15, a 10 minute meditation was a cinch and adding an extra minute at a time felt like no big deal. But as the minutes started to really add up, it got more and more challenging to stay in stillness—both physically and mentally. After what felt like forever of sitting in meditation, I would start wondering how much time had passed and found myself fighting the urge to take a peek at the timer. I pushed through it anyway but not without some fidgeting.

Anxiety was almost non-existent during these days save for one panic episode on day 20 (ugh), but I was actually quite impressed with how quickly I was able to calm myself down.

Day 23

I was up to 19 minutes of meditation by day 23, which is crazy. Before I started the challenge, just sitting still for one minute was a challenge and now I was up to 19 minutes! What? This day was by far one of the deepest meditations I’ve ever experienced. I fell into this deep dreamy state of consciousness. It was a rad next-level experience for sure. I don’t even know how to describe it. It was like I got totally lost in this moment of stillness—like time flew by but stood still at the same time.

“This day was by far one of the deepest meditations I’ve ever experienced. I fell into this deep dreamy state of consciousness. It was a rad next-level experience for sure.”

Days 24–28

I meditated consistently for 20 minutes the last few days of the challenge. Although I didn’t experience that same deep meditation state from day 23 ever again, I did find that my longer meditation periods just felt better for some reason—like I got the most out of the session as I possibly could. I emerged from these longer sessions feeling more refreshed, calm, and connected to myself than with the 10-minute sessions. And the more I did it, the easier it got to stay in stillness for that long. Don’t get me wrong, 20 minutes is still a challenge (I mean come on, that’s basically the length of a sitcom episode on Netflix), but just not as much as it seemed at the start.

My thought every time I finish: “Holy cow! I just meditated for 20 whole minutes.” I almost can’t believe it.

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

So, How Did the Whole Thing Go?

Overall, the experience was pretty rad. In the past, my biggest challenges with meditation were just finding the time to do it and actually giving myself the permission to do nothing for a few minutes without viewing it as a waste of time. That wasn’t an issue during this challenge simply because I decided ahead of time that it just wasn’t going to be an issue. I made meditation a non-negotiable priority and started viewing it as more of an act of self-love. That mindset shift alone made the entire experience so much easier. Meditating didn’t feel like a chore at any point during the challenge. Now, I actually look forward to my morning meditation.

More than anything I’m really proud of how consistent I was. I don’t think I’ve ever meditated for that many days in a row. That’s quite the feat in and of itself. I found that, for me at least, it’s way easier to do something everyday than it is to do something once in awhile, because you get into a flow. With time, the new habit becomes part of your natural routine and it stops feeling like a challenge.

“Although anxiety isn’t exactly something you can quantify, I do think the daily meditation helped keep me Zen throughout the month.”

Now, let’s talk anxiety. Although anxiety isn’t exactly something you can quantify, I do think the daily meditation helped keep me Zen throughout the month. The anxiety I did experience was pretty minimal and I feel overall more in control of it than it of me.

Before, when I had a panic attack it literally ruined my entire day. Sometimes it would even bring me to tears not because the anxiety itself was that bad but because I felt I had somehow failed because I had a panic attack in the first place. I would sink into this dark place and self wallow for hours after. Now, I find it easier to shake it off within minutes and just go about my day as if nothing happened—that’s been huge for me.

What I Learned

In addition to learning that I’m not the monogamous type when it comes to meditation styles and that doing it first thing in the morning works best for me (which I wrote about in my halfway check in), I’m also happy to say I’m learning how to take a chill pill. I have a subtle but very noticeable sense of inner calm throughout the day. I find myself moving a little bit slower and find it easier to focus on the task at hand, where as before the challenge, my mind was already working on the next three tasks on my to do list. Instead of listening to the urge to be uber-productive every single minute, I allowed myself more moments of guilt-free downtime at the end of the day and that’s felt liberating. Overall, I feel like I’ve been breezing through my days with ease rather than chasing them down.

Where I Will Go From Here

Although our relationship has been on-and-off for years, meditation and I are officially back together and this time we’re committed to really making it stick. I actually really enjoyed the experience and plan to continue meditating for at least 10 minutes a day. Will I do it every single day for forever? Who knows. From here on out, I’m just going to take it one meditation session at a time and see where that takes me.

To read the final resolution posts from our other writers, click here.

(Image credit: Margaret Lee)

Kicking a Coffee Habit

Checking Out of Social Media

Making Meditating a Daily Habit

Abstaining from Alcohol

Cutting Out Sugar

Using Painting as Therapy

Jessica Estrada


Jessica is a freelance writer based in sunny Los Angeles. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her scrapbooking, eating churros at Disneyland, or on a beachy getaway somewhere.