I have been cultivating a daily meditation habit since November (after various sporadic attempts on and off over the last few years). Since November 1 I have only missed about 7 days total, which is the best I have done with this habit over the last decade. This time around, I have been using the Calm app. I do a 10 minute session every morning and it’s part of my work day morning routine. I haven’t found the perfect rhythm on weekends, which is when my streaks tend to get broken.
While catching up with a friend recently, I was sharing my new habit and he asked me if I noticed any changes. This was the first time I had taken time to pause and reflect on the benefits of regular meditation. I’m so grateful he asked because I truly believe that this has positively impacted me.
People often say, “How do you quiet your mind?” about falling asleep, taking a nap, or about meditating directly. I used to say that my mind was never quiet and I could never sit in silence for 10 minutes. One of the things I’ve learned from meditation is that the goal is not to quiet your mind. The goal is to be present, and to recognize when your mind has wandered. The longer I do this, the more I am able to stay present, focused on my breathing, for longer stretches at a time without as much distraction. That’s not to say my mind is quiet the entire time. It’s not! But I am getting better at realizing when my thoughts are taking me back to relive a past conversation or ahead to plan a future conversation (where my thoughts often go!), and bringing my attention back to the breath.
In addition to the in-the-moment improvements, I feel that the practice of meditation has helped me slow down some of the time. Anyone who knows me knows that I talk a million miles a minute, I drive too fast, I walk fast, and I work very fast. I still do all of those things, but when I am having conversations with people, I am more intentional about slowing down, being more present, focusing on the personal connection. I attribute some of this to meditation and some to intentionally trying to live out my word of 2022.
Many of my friends are Type-A personalities like me, and our brains are often on over-drive all of the time, especially when we need to shut down and get some much-needed rest. In recent conversations I have been able to share that I notice a change in myself in this area, especially at bedtime. I find that my mind is not drowning in thoughts, like it once was. This is something I am able to recognize thanks to my friend asking me to pause and reflect, and thanks to many days of practice. I love seeing my daily meditation streak rise (as of today it is 75!) but more importantly, I love feeling more grounded.
In addition to my Calm app, I find that 1-2 minutes of deep breathing can also have a significant impact on calming my nerves, getting me back into the present, or helping me take a pause. As part of a wellbeing section of my weekly newsletter this year to our leaders, I have been sharing the Greater Good Science Center’s keys to well-being. Taking time to read these tips reminds me of the value of journaling, reflecting, and meditating, which is literally listed on each key along with research citing the value!