I first considered meditating after listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast. I was shocked by the top number of top performers who use a meditation practice in their daily routine. However, my previous attempts never lasted longer than a week, so I never felt any tangible benefits.
This year, I gave it another try. I committed to 30 (consecutive) days of meditation. I would meditate every day for one month, for at least 10 minutes.
67 days later and I’m hooked. Here’s what happened.
Learning to Meditate
As a beginner to meditation, I wanted assistance to help me through the practice.
I chose the Calm app, which has a free version that offers a handful of guided meditation practices. I started off with the “7 days of Calm” series. It’s a perfect place to start. Each session is around 10 minutes. These sessions provide helpful tips, reinforce meditation benefits, and explain techniques. The true “meditation” time is limited in these sessions, but it’s a great foundation for learning body scans and breathing exercises. For me, it was the perfect way to get started.
When Should I Meditate?
Meditating first thing in the morning worked best for me. Before checking email, drinking coffee, or eating breakfast. I literally wake up, use the restroom, drink water, then meditate. No reading email, scrolling through Instagram, or reading headlines.
Many experts also recommend starting your day with meditation, before you start thinking about work or the Instagram pictures of your friend’s vacation you wish you were on.
Starting a Daily Meditation Practice
The first few weeks were the hardest. I committed to waking up 20 minutes earlier than normal, to ensure I had enough time to meditate before getting ready for work, eating breakfast, and getting my daughter ready for daycare.
This is the formula for success, for me anyway. I made the mistake of checking work email one day before meditating and it didn’t go well. I thought about work for the entire practice and I had trouble bringing my attention back to the breath. This particular day I was more anxious and less satisfied with my state. Moral of the story, don’t check email (or any other updates) before meditating.
Waking up earlier is hard at first but I quickly came to enjoy this “me” time in the morning. I didn’t notice any major benefits in the first few weeks, but I kept going anyway. The practice felt good and I wanted to prove to myself that I can last at least 30 days. So I kept going.
After 30 Days of Meditating
I made it! By this point, I upgraded my Calm app to a premium subscription for access to the additional features and guided meditations. The first few weeks I was doing 10-minute sessions. By week 3 and 4, I increased to 15-minute intervals.
I found timed the timed Calming Anxiety session to be a good fit. This session focuses on breathing exercises with a few reminders to catch the wandering mind.
After 30 days I began noticing changes. Overall stress levels were lower, and I have a stronger ability to respond with rational thought rather than emotion in high-stress situations.
I also noticed when nervousness and panic creep in, I’m able to calm down faster. I didn’t reach some magical enlightened state, but I’m seeing changes. Even though I reached the initial goal I set out for, I’m seeing enough results to keep going.
After 60 Days of Meditating
Now I’m sold, there is definitely something to this. The consistent improvement I noticed over the last two months is impressive.
I now look forward to this practice and the 15 minutes seems to fly by. I have a better understanding of my daily mental state. For instance, some days the practice is easy. Other days it’s hard to focus on the breath. Certain thoughts reoccur and have a stronger pull. Something tells me the persistence on these days is the most important.
Here are the changes that I am feeling after 60 days of meditating
- Greater confidence – It’s easier to be me, in more situations.
- Stress Relief – on average I’m calmer throughout the day and less likely to react with emotions in tough situations
- Happier – This is hard to measure and your definition may differ. I am more content with the life I have – the material possessions, myself, my family, and my career. Perhaps there is a greater appreciation for all the wonderful things in my life.
- Control of Emotions – This is perhaps the greatest motivator for me to continue this practice. When I start to feel overwhelmed, I can quiet the mind faster and the intensity of these episodes are less extreme
So What Now?
The initial goal I set for myself was to meditate for 30 consecutive days. Now that I’m over 60 days and loving the benefits, I plan to keep going. My goal now is to meditate every day for an entire year, 365 days. Am I expecting to be an expert in meditation or to be enlightened after a year? No. Rather I’m looking to cement these new feeling and control of my mind to the point when they become second nature. I’m looking to change my brain to change my life.
We are all limited by our limiting beliefs. Meditation feels like a powerful tool to remove and stretch these beliefs to build a life far beyond what I ever expected.