Although I made peace with my anxiety, for the most part, there are parts of me that wonder whether I can set it up with a prettier loft space for it to hang out and leave me alone for more extended periods. Maybe I can chill it out with a zen space and some cool toys for it to play with? What if I meditated for a month?
I already feed it drugs so it calms its tail, but what about lighting some lovely candles and drawing it a bubble bath so it can just breathe? Everyone talks about meditation practice as if it’s the second coming of Jesus, so I figured I’d give it a try.
I’m not expecting miracles, but I can’t help but wonder if this magic habit can make some profound changes. I put it to the test for 30 days, just beyond the 21-day habit setting marker, to see how it would make me feel. Read on for my journey while I meditate for one month.
I decided to do my typical weight workout first before sitting down for my first meditation. After getting all my energy out, I lit an incense stick, told my husband not to bother me for the next 5 minutes, and sat down comfortably on a cushion in the corner of my living room.
While there are many apps to choose from, I opted for Simple Habit. It has great variety and many free sessions, so I didn’t have to commit to buying a whole plan before I knew for sure it’s for me.
I started with the ‘Simple Habit Starter,’ which was easier than I anticipated. The 5 minutes flew by, and I found a bit of zen in the final few breaths where all I heard and focused on was my breathing!
Today was so much harder for some reason. I’ve been trying to keep the meditation space consistent, but I ran out of incense sticks and lit a candle instead. While I listened to the guide and tried focusing on my breath, I couldn’t help but open my eyes and peek at my cat, who was all too enamored by the flame flickering.
What if he caught on fire? I couldn’t shake the thought of a flaming racing cat running around my living room, catching my house on fire.
Breathe. Then the lights all went off and flickered back on. Was this for real? There’s a winter storm outside, and it’s still snowing. I hope we don’t lose power.
Before I knew it, the 5 minutes were up, and I was invited to proceed on my merry zen way. I hope I can zen out a bit more tomorrow.
I’ve been meditating for a week, though it seems like it’s slow going because I’m only doing 5 minutes a day. I’m not into the body scan meditations where the guide tells you to focus on specific parts of the body and release tension.
I find those body parts start tingling and become uncomfortable. Maybe it’s an area of meditation I need to work on. I finished the 7-day Simple Habit Starter session, so I’m moving on to the “Learn to Meditate” series.
I went ahead and bought a subscription for Simple Habit since I want to choose from the many sessions they offer. I’m finding myself looking forward to the 5 minutes each evening. The key seems to be consistency in time and place. I know that’s not always realistic, but it’s helping me stay on track as I start the meditation journey.
I woke up today, wanting to meditate! I actually woke up looking forward to it. This is absolutely crazy because my mind races all the time.
To put it in perspective, I have emergency Xanax for panic attacks, social anxiety, and I take Escitalopram (20mg) daily to manage my anxiety. And I still have anxiety.
Sitting still through meditation and focusing on my breath is not something I ever thought I would be able to do. I think keeping the sessions at 5 minutes is helping me love the practice. When I tried meditating in the past, I would ramp up to 10 or 15 minutes within the first week. This time around, I decided to keep it slow and steady, and it’s working.
Even though I wanted to do the meditation first thing in the morning, I’m keeping it consistent. So I put the meditation off until the end of the day like always. I’m finding it easier to turn my mind back to my breath.
So, one of the meditations was about counting after every breath to help focus. I ended up counting, breathing and thinking about 3 different things simultaneously.
My mind is exceptionally well adapted to multi-tasking, and I am blown away that I’m able to keep a straight breath count while thinking about other things. In short, counting does absolutely nothing for me, and I simply need to stay conscious and aware.
I officially finished two intros to meditation, and today I started a series called “30 Days to Boost Positive Thinking.” I loved the concept of it, but I wasn’t able to get into a meditative flow with it at all.
It kept asking great self-reflective questions, like, “Have you had kind thoughts lately about the people in your life?” And, no, I haven’t, which kind of made me feel like a jerk. But at least it brought that part of my life to my attention.
My mind kept drifting, so I did an extra meditation session that just concentrated on letting thoughts go and breathing. Also, I started feeling the breath in my back! I had no idea what that meant when I first started meditating.
Apparently, you can feel your lungs collapse and the breath intake in your back. It happened! Is that progress?
Ladies and gentlemen, I am now meditating for up to 10 minutes a day! It’s not all one meditation, but I do a back to back of two different programs. It’s challenging to get my attention back to my breathing still. I’m continuing with the positive thinking series, which makes me feel fuzzy and warm, but I also made another discovery.
I physically feel my anxiety almost every single time I sit still and meditate. It comes from my gut, in pangs. I’m not sure whether this is a sign my anti-anxiety dosage needs to increase or if it’s due to my discomfort sitting still and not doing anything.
Wow, I made it to Christmas without completely losing my sh*t. Ok, confession time. Three days ago, I forgot to meditate. Somehow the day billowed by like a sad plastic bag caught in an updraft, and before I knew it, the clock was past midnight, and I fell asleep without thinking about meditation.
The next day I felt like the wind was knocked out of me. My perfect streak was ruined!
My husband reminded me that feeling that way over missing meditation once was most likely counterintuitive and not the point of meditating. He’s entirely right, but the perfectionist in me couldn’t believe I lost my perfect streak.
Luckily, Simple Habit gods smiled upon me. I guess they also realized erasing a streak because life got in the way once was too much of a soul-crushing blow, and once I meditated, the count of the streak resumed. I know it’s a little bit like cheating, but I don’t care.
As far as meditations, though, I’m finding it hard to concentrate and bring my thoughts back to the breath. Staying focused is challenging. I think it’s because there’s so much chaos around the holidays and so much to do, that my untrained mind is having trouble keeping everything straight.
Where are those widely touted benefits of meditation? I thought I’d feel them by now.
After weeks of meditation, my experiment with daily meditation is drawing to a close. I’ve done all the beginning routines and learned a few tricks along the way that I didn’t think would work. I now label my thoughts as they come, and that allows me to “release” them and get back to the breath.
So, if I’m thinking about how my dog needs a bath, I just label the thought “planning” and let it go. It seems simple, but it works so well. That makes me kind of proud, and I can see the meditation progress in that sense.
Did I Feel The Benefits of Meditating Daily?
I’ll be honest here, I’m not sure. I’m still a high-strung, anxious, and neurotic person. I did this exercise through the holiday month, which makes things even more hectic. What I can say for sure is that I’m now looking forward to meditating for five minutes at the end of my day. I never ramped up how long I meditate, so that might be my next step.
In terms of the immediate after-effects, I noticed myself feeling calmer after meditation and a little bit more “floaty.” It might be the case that if I increase the meditation time, I’ll feel the effects for longer.
I also felt more kindness after doing my meditation. Granted, my focus was kindness, but it was an opportunity to practice that awareness and stay conscious of being kind to others and myself.
Overall, the benefits outweigh the time commitment, so I’m going to adapt this habit into my daily routine. It’s something that slowly morphed into being enjoyable, and it leaves me calm, so why not? I won’t be joining a silent meditation retreat anytime soon, but maybe next time I’m stuck on a crowded subway, I can use my meditation to calm down.
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