I’ve started to do something lately that I never thought I’d try: meditation. Over the past couple of months, I’ve noticed meditation popping into my world: in articles, podcasts, and mentioned by people I talk to. At first, I’d dismissed it as something goofy – a sort of pseudo-sport for the hippie set. As I’ve begun to practice meditation myself, though, I’ve come to learn its benefits and understand what lies behind the “hippies only” stereotype.
The tipping point for trying out meditation came when I heard about an app called Headspace. I was reading an article over on the Buffer blog about the benefits of meditation and what affect it has on the body and mind. Headspace is pretty slick. The whole app is centered around guided meditation and teaching you how to improve your technique. As a fun bonus, each session is narrated by UK based, once monk, Andy Puddicombe. The app offers a substantial amount of content, but I’m currently making my way through the 10 daily 10 minute sessions that come bundled when you download the app.
My experience so far has been great and I’ve found with the help of Headspace, very easy to get started. Each night sitting in bed, I pull up the app and plug in my headphones. From there, I listen to Andy’s guided program and work through a series of techniques that revolve around paying attention to breathing, learning to let your mind run uninhibited, focusing on background noise, and noticing your body and how it feels.
The results are not religious. But they are calming. When I sit down each night, most of my worries, fears, and brain chatter are milling about my head. After I finish the session, though, I’ve noticed a certain kind of peacefulness.
Before starting a few days ago, it wasn’t uncommon to find me sitting up in bed, playing with my phone or tossing and turning. Now, I find myself falling asleep within 10-15 minutes of meditating. I’ve also noticed my sleep being deeper, even going as far as to sleep in later than I usually do.
Beyond sleep, I’ve also noticed being more relaxed during the day. Normally I have an air of anxiety about me: worrying about my to-do list, responding to emails, and all of the other minutiae of life. The past couple of days I’ve found myself sitting down in the morning with a deep focus on my work.
Instead of fidgeting in my seat, I’ve managed to do 90 to 120 minute work sessions without issue. In tandem with this, too, is that I’ve started to take regular breaks. My usual work pattern is to sit and stare at my screen, desperately trying to “work” for hours on end without any real focus. With breaks scattered about my day, I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten more work done.
To say that all of these outcomes are the result of meditation might be a stretch, but I’m buying it. The subtle changes in my behavior have made life that much better and it’s convinced me to keep going. Meditation has really piqued my interest, so I intend to keep writing as I learn things.
I highly recommend Headspace, though. Try it out.