Near the beginning of this year, I decided to add meditation to my morning routine. Numerous books I had read recently talked about the benefits of regular meditation, so I figured it would be worth trying.
I started by doing unguided meditations, which pretty much involved sitting quietly on the floor with my eyes closed for five minutes. Since then, I’ve transitioned to doing guided meditations using the Headspace app, which came recommended by a close friend.
After doing a few weeks of unguided meditations, and now using Headspace for almost 3 months, here are my thoughts on the activity.
(Editor’s note: The headings enclosed in quotations are quotes from the Headspace app)
“If we are only interested in results, we defeat the purpose. The process is the purpose.”
Remember in the movie Old School when Will Ferrell’s character Frank “The Tank” Ricard and his wife go to see a marriage counselor? My reaction when I started meditating was similar. Deep down, I was feeling a little confused. I mean, suddenly you start meditating, and you’re supposed to be this entirely different person. I didn’t feel any different.
It was the quote heading above which helped me over my first hurdle with meditating. That’s when I realized that the point of meditating isn’t to expect to be or to feel different. Meditation is not about results. As Andy (from Headspace) points out, if we go into meditation expecting change, or results, we’re defeating the purpose. The point is to embrace the process of meditation, which is really about becoming more aware of our mind.
“Focusing on meaning, we miss the discovery. Focusing on the destination, we miss the journey.”
And therein lies the challenge with meditation. It’s not about expecting to be different. It’s about adopting the process. It’s doing it daily and building a sense of awareness regarding our mind, thoughts, and internal voice.
Like nearly everything in life, it’s not about reaching a destination. Meditation isn’t a process with an end. Just like eating right and going to the gym to take care of your body, meditation is something you have to do regularly, daily, to take care of your mind.
“There’s nothing more important than an open mind in meditation. As soon as we try to dictate the experience, we’re thinking, not meditating.”
What I find most interesting about meditating is that every day is different. Just like we physically feel different every day, our mental attitude changes as well. Andy talks about having a ‘curious mind’ during meditation because it’s possible to discover new and different feelings, thoughts, and emotions in each session.
Again, it’s not about expectations, it’s about letting go and simply letting things happen during the activity.
“Meditation must be experienced to be understood. We can talk, read, and think about it, but none of that comes close to the real experience.”
It’s an individual experience. I can’t tell you or describe what you will feel when you meditate. You have to do it on your own, and more than once or twice, to understand the experience.
The biggest piece of advice I would give you should you decide to start meditating is that you need to commit to doing it for at least 30 days, and more like 60-90 days, to experience the benefits. It’s like going to the gym or starting a diet. People get frustrated when they don’t see results after a week or two. Just like changes in the body, changes in the mind take at least 30 days to happen. Then it takes another 30-60 days for those changes to become habits that become ingrained as part of our behavior.
Will I continue?
Short answer, yes. Spending time in meditation every day has helped me realize a lot about my mind. It has helped me to be more aware of my inner voice and thought process, and how to manage the distractions that are constantly bombarding us.
My intention is to develop a sense of awareness and understanding, to embody a sense of calm, composure, and clarity. More importantly, I want to bring those qualities to my relationships, both personal and work, and to my interactions with the broader world. I truly believe that it will lead to deeper, more meaningful relationships.
Would I recommend it?
Yes. The investment is worth it. And it’s important to realize that the practice of meditation is for more than personal benefit. As this quote from Headspace noted:
“Meditation has always been about understanding the mind for the benefit of all. Feeling calm and relaxed are just enjoyable side effects.”
On our own, in isolation, the difference we make in the world is small. Collectively, the change we can effect is massive. So I’ll leave you with this final quote:
“It is too easy to forget that we are just one of over seven billion people. Know this life is shared, know this life is precious.”
And if I learn nothing else from meditating, that takeaway alone will be worth it’s weight in gold.