My main intention for these past two weeks was simple: Try to have one mindful moment every single day, flirting with different types of mediations to see what feels right. Heading into the challenge I decided I was going to keep it fun and easy, and I'm happy to say that's exactly what it has been.
If I had to describe the past two weeks with one word, that word would be "light." Although I can't say daily meditation has dramatically changed my life (well at least not yet), I do feel an undeniable sense of lightness that I didn't feel before, and it feels amazing.
I absolutely love the feeling of possibility that greets you the morning of January 1st. That "fresh start" energy feels so good. In keeping with that vibe, I decided to kick off 2017 by meditating on my number one goal for the year.
After waking up, I sat up in my bed, propped some pillows behind me, set my timer for 10 minutes (that felt like a very manageable amount of time to begin with), and got down to business. I allowed my mind to just get totally lost in the visualization of my goal and really tuned into the feelings of what achieving it would feel like. The experience was pleasurable, as it should be. In the past, I've been known to peek at the timer to see how many minutes are left, but not this time. When the timer went off, I was kind of shocked by how quickly 10 minutes flew by. So far, so good.
Today I decided to try out a guided meditation. I went with the 10-minute morning meditation on the Simple Habit app. It was okay. I liked how it guided you to set your intentions for the day, but it didn't make me feel as elated as my goal-focused meditation did the day before.
Before I completely gave up on the Simple Habit app, there was one other meditation on there that piqued my interest: eating meditation. (Yup, that's a thing apparently.) It sounded cool so I gave it a shot before eating lunch. As the app's soothing voice would tell me, the mindful eating practice "is a lot like sitting meditation, except yummier." I agree. It guides you to feel gratitude for your food (I was about to eat lentil soup, by the way), take in the smell, and then finally (my mouth was watering by this point) take your first bite/spoonful very slowly and mindfully. I was surprised by how good my soup tasted ...and it was just soup, guys. Although I probably won't whip open the app before every meal, it was a really nice reminder to slow down when I'm eating and take time to really savor my food.
"I was surprised by how good my soup tasted ...and it was just soup, guys."
I gave breath-focused mindfulness meditation a shot today with the help of the Calm app. Before now, one of the biggest (if not the biggest) tools in my pocket for combating anxiety has been deep abdominal breathing, so this particular practice felt really familiar, comfortable and downright relaxing. I also really loved the soothing sounds of chirping birds and flowing water that the app plays in the background. It adds another level of calm to the mix. No pun intended. Immediately after the timer went off, I felt an almost overwhelming sense of excitement for no particular reason. I'm assuming it was those good old endorphins everyone keeps talking about. I dig it.
Also, today was my first day back at my desk and I'm not sure if it was the meditation or I was just feeling super refreshed after a two-week long holiday break, but I was super productive and ended the day feeling really satisfied and accomplished.
I had a big deadline this morning so I postponed meditating until about mid-morning when I was done with the project. By then, a little anxiety had crept in and I found it really difficult to focus and sit still during the mantra meditation I chose to try out on day 5 (I learned it from my girl Marie Forleo, if you're curious). Although I did feel a little bit better after the meditation, the anxiety and urge to go, go, go came and went throughout the day. Note to self: meditate before starting work.
Today's session also got me wondering if it even counts as meditation when the majority of the time I was fixating on my to do list. So I got to Googling and learned that the goal of meditation is not to think about absolutely nothing so there's no need to be so hard on yourself when thoughts pop into your head. The goal is to bring your attention back to your breath, mantra, or whatever—that's the muscle you're trying to work. So even if you were thinking about other things for 9 out of 10 minutes and caught yourself and brought your attention back it still counts as a successful meditation. That made me feel a lot better.
"I learned that the goal of meditation is not to think about absolutely nothing ... the goal is to bring your attention back to your breath, mantra, or whatever—that's the muscle you're trying to work."
I continued my experimentation with different meditations by giving kundalini meditation another shot. I took one of Gabby Bernstein's trainings last year and fell in love with a manifesting meditation she teaches (here's how to do it). It's definitely not for everyone. It involves music, chanting a mantra, and focusing on something you want to manifest in your life. It's a very moving practice and it left me feeling really uplifted—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
I went back to mindfulness meditation with the Calm app today. It made me feel really refreshed. I had a bit of a panic episode today, which sucked but it didn't last long at all. I was able to calm myself down much faster than usual.
I meditated every morning for 10 minutes this week and bounced back and forth between mindfulness meditation and kundalini meditation. I realized it's way easier for me to stay focused when I'm doing some type of guided meditation that requires putting my headphones on. The act of throwing on earbuds acts like a cue for me now—it lets my mind know it's time to get still.
My Top Three Takeaways From The Past Two Weeks
One, I learned that I'm just not a one-type-of-meditation kind of girl. I liked trying different things and bouncing back and forth between different types depending on my mood. Each meditation I've tried has made me feel a certain way. Mindfulness meditation makes me feel refreshed and calm while the kundalini manifesting meditation totally uplifts me. There's just something really magical about meditating on a desire you want to bring into fruition. I think the process of experimentation is really key for anyone that wants to make meditating a habit, because not every type will work for everyone.
Two, the time of day I meditate really makes a major difference for me. The days I meditated as soon as I woke up were totally effortless because I was still in that relaxed, dreamy state. The one day that I meditated later in the morning was way harder because by then anxiety had already kicked in.
And three, being consistent wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. The various other times I've tried to make meditation a daily habit, I always felt so much resistance, but these past two weeks I felt zero resistance. Although the accountability of having to write about the experience certainly helped keep me on track, what made the biggest difference this time around was a mindset shift. I made meditation non-negotiable—something that just needs to happen every single day like tooth brushing—and it became an effortless part of my daily routine. I didn't overthink it or make up excuses not to, I just did it. This made me realize that I was wasting so much time and energy before just resisting it. This was a huge revelation for me that made me take stock of all the other things I've been resisting in my life.
"I made meditation non-negotiable—something that just needs to happen every single day like tooth brushing—and it became an effortless part of my daily routine."
How I'm Feeling Halfway Through
All in all, I'm feeling pretty good—a little bit lighter and not so overwhelmed. As far as my anxiety goes, I didn't expect it to miraculously go away completely. It is still very much there lingering in the background but the few times that it did pop in it wasn't so bad. For these next two weeks, my goal is to work my way up to 20 minutes of meditation a day, but we'll see how it goes. Wish me luck!
Jessica will be coming back at the end of the month to share the results of her meditation journey. Until then, you can catch up with our other writers' resolutions.