I’ve had a love/hate relationship with meditation for the past six years. I’ve made several attempts to start but quit after a day or two. But a few months ago, I found myself stuck in a rut professionally and personally. After looking at different ways to relieve stress and anxiety, meditation seemed to be at the top of the list. So that’s when I decided to give it one last try.
As fate would have it, Deepak Chopra and Oprah were hosting their 21-day meditation program. I made a promise to myself to complete the 21 days. I ended up meditating for 30 days straight. Here are a few things I learned.
Let your brain run wild
In the beginning, I would try to quiet my thoughts, which created more stress. Accepting both positive and negative emotions made me realize excuses or problems I’ve been avoiding. Eventually, I ran out of things to worry about and found myself naturally sitting in silence.
During the first few days, I found myself unable to finish the full 20-minutes without falling asleep, fidgeting or constantly checking the time. I was caught up in trying to get through it as an accomplishment rather than staying in the moment. When I enjoyed the moment, I noticed it become less of a chore. By the end of the 30 days, I was able to sit through 20 minutes without fidgeting.
One size doesn’t fit all
Finding my level of comfort also included doing a little bit of research on different types of meditation. I find guided meditation and music worked for me instead of just sitting in complete silence. There are also a lot of apps and playlists on YouTube or Spotify for meditation.
There’s room to meditate
Whenever I find myself in stressful situations at work or in my personal life, meditation became a handy tool in calming me down. Instead of aimlessly scrolling through social media as a distraction, I find a quiet spot outside to sit and meditate. If you’re unable to find a spot, taking a short walk outside and repeating mantras or taking deep breaths works wonders.
It’s a self-care must
Meditation cultivated a new love of practicing self-care. As some find journaling a way of releasing toxic feelings, meditation became my outlet for vulnerability. It also helped release thoughts that were not constructive to my personal and professional life.
Don’t expect overnight transformations
A few days into mediation, I was hoping to be a calmer, happier version of myself. Spoiler: I wasn’t. Slowly but surely, I began to practice mindfulness and accept days where meditation can’t fix my anger or sadness. I developed more patience and tolerance in things I normally found frustrating like sitting in Los Angeles traffic.
Meditation not only taught me to slow down but to be aware of my breathing in times of stress. When I absolutely found no time to meditate, taking a few deep breaths in the car, right before a presentation or during conflict helped put my mind at ease.
Instead of taking time away, meditation gave me more inspiration to do things I love. I didn’t realize how much negativity and stress were eating away at both my mental and physical energy. I learned to be more grateful and accept failure in healthier ways.
It helped me feel more confident at work and go out of my comfort zone. I found myself getting out of my rut and writing again. Meditation ultimately opened my eyes to how dependent I am to social media. Now I am able to unplug outside of work (ironically, as someone who works in social media) and not be attached to my phone.
After the 21-days I decided to download another app and continue for another nine days. While I can’t always commit to 20-minute daily meditations, it hasn’t shaken what I’ve achieved. I can still find peace, calmness, forgiveness and confidence through meditation. If you haven’t already, I urge you to try meditation and reap the amazing benefits it offers.