I just finished a three-month streak of meditating twice a day, every day, 90 days in a row.
Ever since I was a child, I have naturally gravitated toward solitude and self-care, but as an adult, my journey has been a little bit more of a roller coaster, with the typical cycles of "I’m super into this!" turning to "Well, I really don’t have the time."
These past three months aren't the first time I have tried meditation.
My very first experimentation with a meditation practice of my own was about a year and a half ago, aided by Headspace and Andy Puddicombe. I had made it to a run streak of almost 300 days, and I grew to really love my practice, but it was often at inconsistent times, sometimes frantically squeezed in a few minutes before midnight, and it felt very haphazard. Then, while I was on a vacation in Europe, I missed a day of my practice. I was super hard on myself when I realized the next morning at a beautiful hotel in Barcelona that my run streak had reset to one day, I was irrationally upset, and then I just…never got back into it. I kept kicking myself, knowing that the run streak wasn’t what was really important—I was chasing a lifestyle and not a number!—but still, I had missed a day, and I fell out of practice for several months after that.
I had always wanted to be the sort of person who meditated and did yoga, and the intended effects really resonated with me. The clear mind, the ability to be present, the willingness to slow down, all of it was something I wanted for myself. In almost every article I would read about the morning routines of ultrasuccessful people, some sort of daily prayer or meditation time was included, and I had made it to well over 200 days of meditating myself, so every time I would think about meditation, I would get more frustrated that it wasn’t a current part of my practice. It felt counterproductive; getting frustrated about not meditating seems like a problem that’s pretty easy to solve: start meditating!
Then, out of the blue, I woke up and I decided I was done kicking myself, and I sat back down with my Headspace app.
I felt out of practice, I had left off in the middle of a series that I remembered nothing about [a pack on Focus, ironically], and I was actually a little nervous. Ten minutes felt like a long time. I had just woken up, I wanted to be curled back in bed with my pup and my fiancé, and I figured that I would just fall asleep again during my practice. I almost talked myself out of it before I even started, but I knew that if I didn’t do it then, 90 days ago, I would just keep putting it off until the next day. And the next day. And the next day. You know how it goes.
So I did my meditation practice that morning, for the first time in months. My mind felt busy, my body felt tired—I had plenty of excuses!—but I did it, and even though it wasn’t a perfect practice (not all of them will be), it was a practice nonetheless. That is what counted. And after that, I was able to keep going. Getting back on track that one day three months ago started the ball rolling again. It felt so good that I meditated later that evening, then the next morning, and suddenly, my practice was back, and it was on its way to being a nonnegotiable part of my self-care routine.
It has now been three months, the end of which conveniently coincided with mindbodygreen’s 14-day meditation challenge with Light Watkins, and I have rediscovered a lot about meditation as a consistent habit:
- It allows me to ease into the day with silence and purpose instead of jumping right into my email or social media.
- It gives me a break toward the end of the day to refocus my energy, evaluate how my body feels, and wind down for the evening.
- It has made both my waking and my sleeping hours feel more intentional and filling.
- It has transitioned into making more space for other self-care habits like skin care, luxurious baths, meal prep, exercise, and reading; if you’re already taking time to do one good thing for yourself, it somehow seems easier to make time for more!
- It grounds me and with two practices a day, constantly reminds me to slow down a little bit and just be.
- It reminds me to breathe, which, no joke, we forget to do a lot!
I will never regret taking just a few minutes each morning and each evening to sit in silence. No matter how busy I am, I will always be able to make time for 10 minutes of meditation, which will never be a waste.
Here's one of the best things about meditation: You really don't need anything to sit down and practice.
Light Watkins recommends a shawl to keep warm, a bottle of water nearby, and a clock to keep time. I personally enjoy holding a crystal [typically my Brandberg amethyst or my smoky celestial quartz with lithium] to help keep me grounded and promote good energy, but that’s a little woo-woo for some people. Either way, all you really need is somewhere quiet to sit by yourself. Everything else is extra.
My relationship with my practice has changed a bit. I am incredibly proud, of course, of sitting down 180 times over the past 90 days (that's almost 2,000 minutes!) for uninterrupted meditative silence. I am proud of myself for prioritizing the time to meditate and reflect, and sure, I enjoy seeing my run streak increase on the Headspace app, but I know that life will always happen around me, and there very well may be days when I don’t make room to meditate once, let alone twice. That’s OK. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a lifestyle change that I want, not just a number of days, which is part of why my original experimentation with meditation was flawed: I was so focused on the run streak that I wasn’t able to enjoy the full benefits of actually sitting down to meditate.
Consider this an invitation. I knew, for years, that I wanted to try meditation, but I allowed myself on more than one occasion to put it off, even when I had seen the positive effects firsthand. If you’ve wanted to try meditating before but have never taken that step, this is your time, and mindbodygreen’s challenge with Light Watkins is a great place to start. But whether you use Headspace, another app or program, or nothing at all, resting in silence, eyes closed, just allowing your body to sit in stillness will always be rewarding, and you will walk away with even a tiny bit more presence of mind.
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