I tried meditation everyday for a week and this is what happened.

Monday, 11 March 2019

They say those who claim to have no time to meditate are the ones that need to most.

I imagine this statement resonates with many. Between our jobs, fitting in a decent workout, maintaining a social life and getting enough sleep, when can we find time to stop and just be still? Not to mention factoring in grocery shopping, housework and all of the other less than thrilling tasks that come with adulting.

With the benefits of meditating including reduced stress and improved sleep, the concept of meditation strongly appeals to me as someone who struggles with anxiety, tends to over think, and can’t switch off that inner voice. Ironically these are the very same reasons as to why I had never attempted it before, because surely it wouldn’t work for me?

Despite convincing myself that I wouldn’t grasp mindfulness (listening to that previously mentioned pesky inner voice), I was still attracted to the idea and found myself searching for articles on the topic as my interest continued to peak.

My curiosity soon became unavoidable, with many brands that I follow on social media even listing it as a favourable self-care practice. Feeling pushed and inspired, I finally decided that the time was now and challenged myself to practising meditation every day straight for one week. Here’s what I learned:

There’s no right or wrong way to meditate
Having zero prior experience and no idea what I was doing, I looked up a few dictionary definitions. I found that meditation could be simplified ‘as an act of focusing attention and thoughts on one thing, for either religious or spiritual purposes or as a means to become calm and relaxed’. So whether you choose to do this in silence or by listening to music or a guided meditation (there are many great apps for this), as long as you are attempting to achieve a state of focus and calm, you’re onto a good thing.

I decided to use a guided meditation, which I found very suited for mindfulness newbies like myself. I personally found it comforting and less daunting to have a voice talk me through the process. Additionally, listening helped me retain focus.

Give yourself time
Finding just a few minutes within a full day to meditate sounds easy enough and yet I found that if I didn’t set aside a specific time, I wouldn’t have any to spare. To remedy this, I set an alarm at the same time every morning and made it part of my routine, fitting in nicely between finishing my breakfast and showering.

Some of the benefits are instant
Similar to coming out of child’s pose upon completing a yoga session, a sense of calm washes over your entire body after meditating. I instantly felt less anxious and also more aware and in tune with how both my mind and body felt. Whilst this feeling sadly did not last all day, it’s comforting to know that in stressful moments, I can turn to meditation for a temporary release.

I can’t with full confidence say that my awareness to living in the present improved, however I did notice buildings on my daily bus route that I’d never seen before on two separate occasions. Coincidence? I think not.

It will get easier
Keeping it real here, I don’t think meditation can be a case of ‘practice makes perfect’ because no matter how many years practiced, there will still always be days throughout our lives in which we feel unfocused, restless and generally not in the mood to meditate, and that’s ok.

However based on my week of meditation, I do believe that with consistent practice, the exercise will come more natural and the mind should wander less. At the start, my thoughts kept drifting away from my focus and my inner voice was in full force, something that was very frustrating and difficult to stop. Rather than simply being in the present moment, I kept thinking about what I had to do later in my day, which provoked anxiety and made it near impossible to relax. Thankfully towards the end of the week, I found these thoughts slightly easier to control and was even able to silence my mind, if only for a few blissful seconds.

So when your mind does wander (and it will, especially at the start) just remember that this is not something to be punished as it is perfectly normal, in fact it’s all your mind has previously ever known. Be patient with yourself and think of meditation as re-booting your system, clearing your mind of unnecessary information so that you can function at your best.

You don’t know until you try.
As this is all still very new to me, I can’t accurately predict how much the benefits increase over time. However, I definitely think it’s worth trying, even if you aren’t particularly prone to anxiety or stress (lucky you). Some studies have even shown meditation to improve memory and decrease blood pressure, benefits that might not be a priority for you now but will become increasingly important with age.Not to mention that this practice is completely free, requiring no equipment or paid professional teaching.

Personally I’m pretty hooked. My mind and body seem to now crave the stillness that meditation brings me and I’m excited to continue and see where my mindfulness journey can take me.

By Emma Warner

I’m Emma, a Brit with a love of travel and doing things that are good for the mind, body and soul. I have lived in four different countries (and counting) and can’t stay still for long as I believe there is too much beauty to be discovered in this world of ours. Wellness and self-care are very important to me and I’m a person of inquisitive nature, striving to be forever learning and exploring.

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