If you’ve been keeping up with my year-long mission to give up different negative habits, you may be surprised that this month, I decided to change things up. Last month, instead of giving something up, I attempted to incorporate a positive, daily habit: meditation! This is something I’ve tried for years to make into a regular part of my day. I’ve had varying success, but never really managed to find that “amazing peace” everyone who meditates talks about. However, I did find a lot of benefit and learned a great deal about myself. Here’s the story of how I meditated every day for a month (well, almost every day).
The plan for peace
I’ve learned from previous challenges that making a specific and concrete plan helps me achieve my goal. So, I did just that…sort of. I recently acquired a smart watch which gives me several reminders throughout my day to take at least a minute to stop and just breathe. I decided that I’d use that function of my watch to help me meditate at least five minutes a day. To further help myself, I put a daily reminder in my phone that I would have to see every time I picked it up. Sounds foolproof right? Well, those things certainly helped, but I still missed meditating two different days of the month. I realize most normal people would call that a success, but I am a perfectionist.
Learning from “failure”
Though the overall challenge was pretty successful, I still learned from the days that I missed. First, if something is truly a priority, you will MAKE the time for it. The days I didn’t meditate, I just kept procrastinating – “I’ll do it in an hour, after I’ve finished this.” In hindsight, that sounds silly. The meditation was only five minutes long, but I continually put it off, even on the days that I actually ended up completing the task.
Second, despite what people say, meditation is not magic. It is a nice way to remind yourself to stay in the present moment and it can do wonders for some people, but I’m not certain I’m one of those people. Perhaps those aforementioned perfectionist tendencies get in my way. If my mind wandered, or I moved my hand, it frustrated me. After the month was over, I read that a better strategy for meditation is to simply observe yourself. Notice the thoughts that come into your head, the sensations in your body. Welcome them, don’t run from them. That way, you can simply let them pass and refocus on your breathing or a mantra, whatever works for you.
Since I finished the challenge, I have meditated a few times. It’s only been for about a minute at a time, though, which I actually enjoy. I think that, going forward, I may use meditation as a simple “time out” for my brain. It can be a way for me to reset and check in with myself, which is probably really good for someone with as scattered a brain as I have!
The one thing I will definitely carry forward from this challenge is that I am going to continue with incorporating positive habits, not just eliminating negative ones. Sometimes it’s easier build on something constructive rather than focus on a “failure”. No matter what, I’ll be working on quieting that perfectionism, with or without meditation! Maybe I’ll be able to say that I meditated every day for longer than a month next time!