In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of life, we tend to get distracted by many things happening at once. You might also find yourself rushing all the time – rushing to get to work/school, rushing to meet deadlines, rushing to meet up with friends and rushing home to finally take a breather from the day’s activities. Sometimes this lifestyle can get too exhausting, especially when there’s too much to do but too little time.
One method we’ve discovered that might help to calm our minds is through meditation.
Benefits of Meditation
According to Huffingtonpost, there are loads of benefits to meditating daily.
- It reduces stress.
- It improves concentration.
- It encourages a healthy lifestyle.
- The practice increases self-awareness.
- It increases happiness.
- It increases acceptance.
- It slows aging.
- It benefits cardiovascular and immune health.
We needed no more convincing; the slew of benefits that meditation can potentially bring us was way too enticing. We decided to try meditating daily for a month to see how it would help!
Ways to Meditate
There are various ways to meditate, but for us beginners, we decided that guided meditations for mindfulness would be easiest to pick up. We used two different apps, Headspace and Insight Timer, and both are great. You can try both for yourself and go with the one you prefer!
You might think that meditation involves clearing your mind of thoughts, but that’s actually not true. It’s more of acknowledging that you have those thoughts, but not acting on them, or chasing after them. During meditation, your thoughts will come and go, and you intentionally avoid running off with a train of thought.
To meditate in the morning before going to work, I had to wake up 15 minutes earlier just so I had enough time. This proved tough to achieve because I had to choose between extra sleep and meditating. The few times I actually woke up earlier to meditate, I did feel that my day started off well, with a clear mind after a well-rested night.
Trying to convince myself to get up to meditate was a real struggle every morning. On more disciplined days where I made it, I really did enjoy those moments of silence and relaxation, and taking the time to start my day right. Before this, I was used to rushing through my morning routines and zooming right out of the house, which made my mornings pretty stressful. One of my favourite things I learnt through this experiment was the importance of setting my intentions for the day, which I felt really helped me to live a more purposeful and productive day. Insight Timer has some really great guided meditations for mornings! My favourite is Morning Meditation with Music by Jonathan Lehmann.
Meditation for Relaxation
A lot of the guided meditation options in Insight Timer practiced mindfulness, which is “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”. This meditation can be practiced any time of the day, as long as you’re in a quiet place. I did enjoy practicing meditation for mindfulness, especially at the end of a work day and when I’m exhausted. It really helped to calm my mind and put away the worries I might have had.
Meditation for Cultivating Values
Something I was interested to explore was the idea of meditation to improve myself. I chose a few guided meditations that had to do with self-love, gratitude, and patience. These reminded me of podcasts, but with mindful breathing and a whole lot of self-reflection, which I really enjoyed and needed. I do feel like I have to space these out to act as reminders to myself, rather than something I want to listen to daily!
Meditation for Sleep
Meditation for sleep was one of my favourites. It works really well for people who suffer from insomnia. There were a couple of times when I had trouble falling asleep, so I put on one of the longer guided meditations (of around 30 minutes), and tried to sleep while listening to the guide. The first time I tried it, I fell asleep 10 minutes into the meditation. Most of the guides were about getting rid of tension all over your body, and you do so by focusing on one body part at a time.
I’ve always had trouble falling asleep. I tend to lay in bed for hours, unable to stop myself from overthinking about everything in my life, from past to future events. As a creative type, sometimes I get the best ideas at night and then get too excited to fall asleep! You can imagine how bedtime can be a frustrating time for me. Meditation, though, completely changed all that. Ever since I started meditating before bedtime, especially listening to those clips meant for relaxation/going into a deep sleep, I’ve honestly had no trouble falling asleep at all! These exercises typically ask me to focus on my breath, time my inhalations and exhalations, and to clear my mind or let it wander. I try to avoid falling asleep during the meditation as I use earphones, but once it ends, I’m out like a light within a few minutes. Of course, there are nights when trying to quiet my busy mind is a struggle. But it’s the most effective thing I’ve tried for my insomnia so far! Is it magic?
Our Thoughts about Meditation
The toughest part of meditation for me is making sure I have time to meditate. As we’ve mentioned, it’s very easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, and portioning some time for meditation sure required some getting used to. I had to either get up 10-15 mins earlier to do morning meditations, or sleep slightly later at night if I wanted to do night meditation. Anyhow, I enjoyed meditating and I feel that the practice helped me to focus better while doing tasks. I do see myself continuing the practice when I can!
I loved it! It helped me with my anxiety, insomnia, and helping me to be more productive and purposeful in my day. It also gave me the chance for self-reflection, which I don’t usually have the discipline to do otherwise. Both morning and night meditation required me to sacrifice some sleep, but I think that over time, I will start to see it as less of a chore. I wouldn’t say that meditation has changed my life, but I do think that it has improved it (especially with falling asleep!) and I will be continuing with this habit.
If you want to have a go, we really recommend going through with Headspace’s free 10-day trial as they have a bunch of useful animated videos that explains more about meditation and what you’re trying to achieve. After that basic foundation, you can move onto Insight Timer as it has 6000+ free meditation sessions, and covers a wide range of meditation guidance (e.g. sleep, morning, anxiety etc.) Another tip is to go into this practice without any expectations, and without stressing yourself out if you’re unable to quieten your mind easily. Stressing about it just makes it even more difficult, so just try your best on that particular day and then try again the next day!
If you’re keen to try it out and have some questions, or have some tips on how to keep at the practice, let us know in the comments!
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