Mindful May Week 1: Meditation
In case you missed my introduction to Mindful May, I'm devoting this month to focusing on doing a spring cleaning of "brain clutter" and making an effort to be more present. Mindfulness is something I really struggle with, so I have planned on adding one small habit each week to make the process enjoyable instead of a burden or obligation. This first week I'm committing to giving meditation a try at least once a day. I'd love for you to join me!
Meditation: the ultimate state of mindfulness. When I think of meditation I think of a cute little Buddha and monks. That's cool and intriguing, but not a crowd I really feel like I fit in with. Why is the concept of just sitting and being so hard? I'm happy to push myself outside of my comfort zone at the end of a road race or to conquer a massive to-do list or to tear apart my kitchen (okay, maybe I wasn't happy about that). But sit and breath and be present? That's intimidating. And it seems super hard. My brain is super talkative and it's hard to find the mute button.
So why have I now decided to dabble in meditation? Because my talkative brain is telling me to give it a go. I spent my 20's pushing my body and mind to the extremes with school, work, and fitness. Now that I'm in my 30's, I'm working on taking a more well rounded approach to health and TRYING to listen to my body instead of forcing it. It's a work in progress. Another reason? The benefits of meditation sound pretty darn appealing.
While the health industry often can't make up its mind on whether something is going to give you super powers or potentially kill you (poor eggs) meditation seems to be accepted as extremely beneficial across the board. There's a laundry list of potential benefits (seriously, one article lists 76) including reduced stress, increased happiness, improved memory and concentration, better sleep, and a strengthened immune system. Pretty amazing for just sitting and being. Like all you have to do is be you and chill out. And you can do it anywhere with no expensive equipment or training.
While I claim you don't need training, I am a meditation newbie and I don't really know what I'm talking about. Let's be real...I need some guidance. For me, that's in the form on an app (#millenial). I looked at a bunch of the top rated meditation apps and settled on Headspace. It has loads of good reviews and I know some people who are using it successfully. Sold! At least to the free trial version. The meditating can be as short as 3 minutes per day, which seems pretty manageable. It seems like I don't have much to lose by trying it for a week.
Once I decided I was going to try meditating, I was actually kind of excited to start so I started a little early. I've been using Headspace since May 1st. So far I've been listening to the courses right before I go to bed. I've even been crazy and selected FIVE minutes instead of three sometimes. Look at me being all zen. It might have been from the lack of sleep last week, but I have often fallen asleep before the course even ends. I don't typically fall asleep that quickly, so I'm interested to see if that continues.
My plan this week is to play around with doing a course at different times of the day. Today I'm going to be wild and try doing it in the middle of the day. When I first started entertaining the idea of meditation, I thought it would be helpful to practice it first thing in the morning. At least a few days this week, I plan to set my alarm clock a few minutes early. Instead of instantly getting up to my alarm and staring at my phone I'm going to do a short guided meditation. Doesn't that seem like a nice gentle way to enter a new day?
I discovered that the Headspace app allows you to set up Siri so that you can say something like "let's meditate" to start the course without having to look at the phone. The same option is available for a nighttime meditation. I'm also going to change my earlier alarm to a different sound so that I don't go on autopilot and jump out of bed when it goes off (I'm not one to hit the snooze). In case the meditating does put me back to sleep, I'll leave my normal alarm set as a precaution.
I'm also thinking about trying to meditate right after an at-home yoga practice and even during my lunch break. If I have time, I run home during lunch to let Jameson out and to make a lunch. It's a wonderful luxury to live close to work, but I'm typically in a very go-go-go frame of mind. I think taking three minutes to take some deep breaths and re-center for the rest of the day would be challenging but potentially really beneficial. I'll try it at least once and see how it goes.
The cool thing about meditation is that there's no right or wrong way of doing it. If you're joining me in trying to mediate this first week of May, I'd love to hear how you're approaching it!
Are you a meditating newbie or is it something you regularly practice?
What time of day are you planning to meditate?
Are you using an app to help with meditation or are you doing it on your own?