I had a bit of an unintentional, yet necessary, digital detox over the last 2-3 weeks. Okay, maybe not a FULL detox, but you might have noticed things have been quieter on my end. That’s because I’ve been (and still am) sorting out a few different things in my life. You could say that my self-imposed 30 day meditation challenge came at exactly the right time. Although I can’t deny I’ve been stressed, it’s kept me as sane and level-headed as possible.
Now because we’re all friends here, I have some information to disclose before I dive into the details of my experience. I started my 30 days of meditation 2 days early. I also happened to miss 2 days during the “official” 30 days. So I technically finished 30 days, but with a brief gap in the middle. Why do I bother mentioning this?
Because we’re all human.
Things come up.
And sometimes you’re not as “perfect” with your goals as you’d like to be.
It’s also a reminder to you all to not give up if you find yourself in a similar situation (with any goal you’ve set). After missing a day, I could have easily been like “well, there goes my attempt at 30 days, might as well just stop altogether!” But, it’s when you keep going, despite obstacles, that makes the difference between passively trying and actively doing.
Okay, rant aside — let’s get into this.
Did my pattern of thinking change?
Honestly, yes. But not at first. It wasn’t until about midway through that I realized my thoughts weren’t chasing each other around in my mind like a dog chasing its tail. Which, during a hectic period of life like now, would be more of my norm. I was able to recognize my thoughts for what they were, feel them, and then let them go. It’s a slow yet worthwhile shift — one that requires upkeep.
Did it affect my behavior at all?
Surprisingly, yes. I admit I was a bit skeptical that it would make a difference in terms of my overall outlook on life (and thus my behavior). But as with my pattern of thinking, I noticed it in the absence of old habits. I realized that I was enjoying the process of life more. Meaning, I was enjoying the journey as opposed to just the destination (how many cliches can I include in this post? stay tuned). I tend to fall back on feeling quite meh during the in-between stages of reaching goals, major life events, etc. And although just as much is up in the air as it was before I started my 30 days, I feel much lighter. I’m excited about the right now. In my book, that’s invaluable on all kinds of levels.
Three of my biggest takeaways…
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
Sorry to use such a cliche, but I think it really applies to meditation. I think a lot of people are turned off by meditation because they give it about 2-3 days and are like “well I feel exactly the same so this must all be some hippie-dippy nonsense.” I feel ya. And the truth is, it won’t be a night and day type experience. If you know that going into it, it’ll take a lot of pressure off of your meditation practice.
Some days your mind will not cooperate, and that’s okay
This follows my first point. There were a handful of days where I’d really try to stay focused on my breath, counting, etc., but my mind wasn’t having it. I’d get to the end of the 10 minutes and realize I was wrapped up in my thoughts 85% of the time. As frustrating as it can be, it’s so normal. Every day will be different.
Make meditation a part of your routine
Trust me, it makes it SO much easier to stay consistent if you schedule it into your day. For me, this was almost always before bed. It became integrated into my nighttime routine. Change into pajamas, wash face, brush teeth, meditate, go to bed. You might prefer the morning, or maybe midday. Whatever works for you. Regardless, saving your 10-15 minutes for an allusive “sometime” makes it more tempting to push off or skip altogether.
Overall, if you’ve been thinking of incorporating meditation into your life, I highly recommend it. Personally, I think committing to an extended period of time such as 30 days will help those of you who, like myself, struggle with non-immediate results. Big shoutout to Headspace for guiding me along the way.