Ughhhh ok, full disclosure. There was one day smack dab in the middle of the month where I forgot to meditate. It was a day off work so I didn't start my day with meditation making it all the more easy to forget. However, I have meditated every other day over the last month and a half, and I'm hooked. Below I'll share my experience with you all.
Most of you know I'm a huge fan of meditation and yoga. I lead meditation groups at the hospital where I work, I utilize breathing techniques to decrease and manage everyday anxieties, and I practice yoga, a form of moving meditation on a regular basis. I've always wanted to have a regular meditation practice, and I have gone through bouts of meditation, but still hadn't cultivated a daily, can't live without it, non-negotiable, meditation practice. Meditation is good for our minds, bodies, and spirits. It's been shown to increase gray matter in the brain, improve focus, improve cognitive functioning, decrease anxiety, decrease depression, improve the immune system, and decrease the aging process. Read more about the benefits of meditation here. Meditation is just something I believe in, and something I value, so of course I want to practice it regularly.
My husband and I agreed to meditate every morning before work. On weekends we meditated whenever, but mornings seem to work best. We used the free app insight timer which has over 3,000 guided meditations to choose from. This app is by far THE. BEST. MEDITATION. APP. PERIOD. It tracks your meditations, allows you to bookmark and create a collection of your favorite guided meditations, and has meditations of all lengths, types, and themes. This app also has a timer feature which allows you to meditate in silence for however long you'd like if you're not into the guided route. Seriously, if you're at all interested in meditation, you need this app in your life, and it's free so what are you waiting for. We've discovered so many inspiring and amazing guided meditations through this app. We meditate 10 minutes on average in the mornings. 10 minutes feels doable at this time in that we haven't had to shift anything around to fit it in. So for us, 10 minutes every morning is what works.
Honestly, it hasn't been an earth shattering change since we've practiced regular meditation, but I do feel like meditation enhances my life. I feel calmer overall. My stress reaction has drastically decreased in response to everyday stressors meaning, I don't sweat the small stuff. I just feel less rushed, less stressed, more grounded, calmer, and emotionally stronger. The act itself of meditating has also been quite nice. I look forward to my daily meditation. Sometimes, the guided meditation is just what I needed to hear in that moment, and the words of the facilitator unlock something in me that needed to be released. Sometimes I leave my meditations moved, inspired, tearful even. Sometimes, my mind won't stop thinking, and I'm full of distractions the entire time. Either way, meditation is a nice way to check in with my mind, mood and energy. It's been fun finding and bookmarking our favorite meditations as well, and a journey in creating a collection of meditations we truly love. It's also been a wonderful experience to share with my husband as sometimes the topic of the guided meditation for the day prompts deeper discussions with one another. We both have noticed that after 30 days, meditation has become a necessary part of our daily routine. We both look forward to meditation and miss it if we haven't practiced yet for the day.
Tips for Getting Started or Cultivating a Regular Practice
- Commit to an amount of time that feels doable for you. You can always increase your meditation time, but too large of a meditation goal will cause you to fail before you even get started.
- Pick the best time to integrate it into your schedule. My suggestion is morning time before you start your day. It's too easy to get caught up in life as the day goes on with unforeseen delays at work, impromptu meetings with friends, or phone calls from family. Mornings have been the best time for me and my husband, and a great way to set the tone for the rest of the day.
- Use technology to your advantage. Again, I love using the insight timer app for guided meditations, but I've also found great meditations on YouTube, and calm.com. Background music and/or timers can also be helpful.
- Enlist the support of others. Connect with others who meditate, or simply get a friend, family member, or significant other to meditate with you. Having someone else to hold you accountable really helps. If you don't have anybody who is willing to meditate with you, you can always join a drop in meditation class once/week, or join a meditation group on the insight timer app. There's something powerful about mediating with others and cultivating that calm together.
- Finally...just get started!! Even if you just meditate for 1 minute/day. Just get started and see how it feels to breathe, turn your attention inward, and get quiet on a regular basis.