One of my favourite things about Headspace, the meditation app that I use, is that it keeps track of the number of days in a row that I’ve meditated and rewards me for good streaks! I made it to 30 days and then I thought it would be fun to see how long a streak I could get! I’ve now made it to 100 days and want to just keep going! I used to wonder how I could meditate every day and now I wonder how I could stop meditating every day! It has become part of my morning routine and I find that my day seems to flow so much more smoothly when it starts with a good meditation.
I feel like I have learned so much from meditating every day but it has surprised me how hard it is to write this blog post about it. It is really difficult to put into words what it is that has changed for me! But I have figured out a few key things to share with you that I have learned from my 100 days!
Just Do It
This is probably the most important thing I learned! Trying to keep up with the streak forced me to meditate even on days when I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed and didn’t feel like I had the time to take 15 minutes out of my day to sit quietly. These are the most important days to fit it in!! It is surprising how it makes a busy day seem less busy when you start it with 15 minutes of sitting still. This is also something else that I learned – there is a lot of talk about how great it is to get up to longer meditations of half an hour, 45 minutes, or even an hour. I definitely believe that as you increase the length of time that you’re meditating, you will get more and more benefit from it. However, meditating for an hour every day is not feasible for me at this point. I made the decision that 15 minutes every day is better than an hour every once in a while! I also made the decision that 15 minutes was better for me than 10 minutes. When I would do only 10 minutes, I felt like I was barely getting into the practice before it was over. You have to find the time that works for you!
Meditation Does Not Always Equal Relaxation
A common misconception about meditating is that it should be relaxing. I think people often give up on meditating because they make relaxation their goal and then feel disappointed when that doesn’t happen (this is definitely how I felt when I first started!). Meditating can sometimes be really difficult and often makes you feel quite restless! It helps you calm your racing thoughts but sometimes, instead of bringing out your quiet mind, it brings out whatever emotions and thoughts you were unconsciously avoiding. That inner critic that you try and hide deep down inside of you will stare you right in the face and force you to see it. I have learned that my meditation goal has nothing to do with learning how to relax. It is all about learning how to watch your thoughts go by but not get taken away by them. It is about learning how to listen to what your mind and body is saying to you in every moment. It is about seeing that inner critic, seeing any judgments you are making about yourself, and realizing you don’t have to let them control you. Learning these things during the formal meditation makes it easier for you to use these skills throughout your daily life.
15 Minutes Per Day Can Become All Day Every Day
Practicing meditating every day for 100 days has really helped me feel confident in my ability to use my meditation skills in all aspects of my life. It allows me to listen better to my patients because I can focus on what they are saying instead of getting wrapped up in my own thoughts. It allows me to enjoy spending time with my friends and family because I can get excited about seeing them and hearing all about their lives instead of worrying about where we are going and what I’m going to be able to eat. It allows me to enjoy my food because I can pay better attention to the flavours I’m eating and be excited about the food I am trying instead of worrying about whether it’s going to make me feel sick. It allows me to enjoy my life currently, as it is right now, instead of worrying about what might happen in the next minute, day, week, or year.
This really hit me when I ran my 15km race on Toronto Island back in June. I was standing in the pouring rain, in a huge crowd of people, nowhere near food/water/washrooms, with 15km of running standing in front of me and it hit me like a brick wall – I wasn’t panicking. I was standing there, excited for my run to start, enjoying spending time with my friend/running buddy, and just feeling happy (despite the horrible weather!). As soon as I realized how weird it was that I was not feeling any anxiety, all the anxious thoughts started flowing! But that’s when something really cool happened! I had a few moments of anxiety, which in the past would have completely consumed me, but this time I was able to notice these anxious thoughts, tell myself I was okay, and then get back to just enjoying the moment! It was awesome and I will never forget that day.
Overall, although I will likely always have anxieties and worries in my life, I have learned that I can control them instead of letting them control me! I came across this quote recently and it really resonated with me because it describes me perfectly: “I’ve had many worries in my life, most of which never happened” – Mark Twain
Best of luck with your meditation practices! If you feel like you could benefit from developing your own meditation practice but feel like you need some help getting started, make an appointment with me at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic and I would be happy to help! 🙂