This is the day I tell you why I love meditating and why it’s helping me be a better me.
If this sounds snooze-worthy, then perhaps you ain’t ready to be pounded over the head with this message of Zen quite yet. If it sounds at all interesting, read on. I just may convert ya’.
I am a goal-setter. For years I have set clear goals in various areas of my life, and have spouted the importance of doing so on more than a dozen or so occasions on this very blog. One goal I have consistently tried to make happen?
To be clear, my attempts have not been entirely without success. In advertising, there is a rule of 7 which purports that buyers often need to see something seven times before raising their hand and saying, Yes! I wanna buy that thing!
For me, the journey to become a meditator was like that. 7 times I tried. On the 7th time, it stuck. Here’s my meditation story, in 7 Acts. (Act 7 is the winner.)
Act 1 of my meditation journey started five years ago, more or less, when everyone and their mother started writing things in books and magazines and blogs I read about why meditating is good and what it can do for you. This had the sum total effect of convincing me it really was something good I should be doing, like not checking my phone first thing in the morning or trying the whole green smoothie thing (both things I also came around to, but that’s another story). That said, it did little else. I knew the word, and it rattled around in my brain from time to time. The end.
In Act 2 of my meditation journey I progressed to the point at which I was writing, “Start meditating” and its variations — “Meditate five times a week” — say, or — “Take a meditation class” — on my list of annual goals. This was a big step. (But alas, setting and goal and reaching it are two entirely different things.)
In Act 3, I started actually meditating a few times. It’s hard to remember in what year this really happened for the first time, but I’m betting 2014. I was not committed. It ended up being one of the few goals on my entire annual goals list that I didn’t get anywhere near accomplishing. The fact that I didn’t accomplish it likely turned me off even more from meditating, and from thinking about meditating, as it reminded me of something I wasn’t doing but wanted to be doing. (Yes, this whole self-flagellation bit was obviously stupid. But yes, it happened.)
In Act 4 something BIG happened when I discovered guided meditations. This was a game changer. This meant that I started turning meditating into a real, live thing in my life and started getting better at it by realizing that guided meditations were more my jam, and easier for beginners. I downloaded more than a dozen guided meditations and meditation podcasts with some free mediations on them and listened to the them upon waking first thing in the morning. The whole lying in bed thing also helped, as it was super easier. Wake up? Don’t want to get out of bed? Close your eyes and listen to a guided meditation for 15 minutes! I wasn’t tracking how often I was doing it but it was a thing I was doing at least a few times a week, but more when the morning mood struck than anything else. I went through weeks where I meditated at other times of the day also, but using the same guided meditations, and ultimately if it didn’t happen in bed in the morning, it was less likely to happen at any other time of the day.
In Act 5, I had preemie twins, had my whole life turn upside down, got really freaked out about it all, wrote a letter to the worst year of my life, and meditated only a few times a week for about six months, with some weeks going by with no meditating happening.
In Act 6 my life got stabler, I gave myself grace as per my really crappy year, and decided it was time to go back to meditating on a daily basis. That said, the whole early morning thing no longer worked with 3 little kids in the house, so I started thinking of another way to make it regular. I started meditating at other times in the day, but soon found I need more motivation and encouragement to do so and a better way to track it all to improve motivation.
This was the game changer. This is when I realized that millions of people before me have had this exact same challenge, and that they even make freakin’ apps for this very thing. I googled a bunch and finally settled on the Calm App, after trying another one dedicated to meditation: Headspace. Headspace was OK. but I didn’t love the voice and preferred the interface of Calm and felt Calm had more targeted and varied meditations to choose from. I tried some habit apps like Strides with the idea that I would meditate on my own and then track it in the app. (This was an OK idea in theory, but didn’t work well in practice and ultimately is pretty sub-par to using an app that actually has HAS meditations in it). I tried Calm free for a week or so, but basically pretty quickly realized this was my thing and I loved it and I needed to upgrade for around $50 a year.
As of today, I’m officially on a 44-day streak of meditating. In that time, I have meditated 72 times for a grand total of 12 hours and 5 minutes of meditation time. I have meditated in my bed, in my car, in my office outside the home, in my yard, on a park bench, on the floor of my various kids’ rooms, on my living room sofa, on my computer (yes, the Calm app has a desktop version I used when my phone was out of batteries), in my home office, and once, with a kid asleep beside me on a fuzzy rug.
And here’s the thing: I’m loving it.
I mean, sure, there are times when I grumble and I’m all, “But I’d rather spend 15 minutes watching the Southern Charm reunion than meditate right now.” But then I meditate and I’m all, “WHEEEEE!!!!”
I’m not cured of my love affair with anxiety and ruminating thoughts and anger at Verizon customer service representatives, but I am making great headway. More importantly, I feel better. And on top of that, I feel better about feeling better (which is a thing).
All in all, this is a huge win.
And, if you have, tell me what you love about it all.