How Meditating Every Day for a Year Changed My Life

And I don’t say “changed my life” lightly. Meditating, every single day, for an entire year truly changed my life.

Meditating Changed My Life

There’s a lot to unpack here, but I hope that reading this will inspire you also to adopt meditation. While I did go into a bit of the background when I did a post about hitting the 100-day mark, I want to get into it again so it’ll all be under the same roof here.

At different points in my life, meditation had been recommended. For the longest time, despite hearing only positive things, I didn’t want to get on board. It seemed a little too ~woo woo~ for me. And because I didn’t want to, I would always go into meditation with a bad attitude. Of course, that’s not going to do me any good in the long run. Not only did I not want to get on board, I also didn’t “get” meditation. I only know that now that I have been practicing.

Despite not getting into it for my first couple of attempts, I apparently wasn’t so put out that I wasn’t willing to try again. In fact, I think it was because I was so desperate (whether or not I realized it) for some kind of change in my life that I was willing to try anything, even if it meant revisiting something that hadn’t worked in the past.

I downloaded Headspace at the suggestion of my boyfriend after a particularly overwhelming night. Even after downloading the app, I still didn’t dive right in. Eventually, I did a few sleep meditations and I fell asleep before the track even ended. I couldn’t believe it; every morning I’d wake up in awe that I hadn’t heard the end of it the meditation because I fell asleep that quickly. I figured there had to be something to the app, if not meditation alone. So I decided to try the 10-Day Basics pack. Then I moved onto the Basics 2… and then Basics 3. Literally, 30 days, right there and I was beginning to get what meditation was all about.

For a Type A person, I don’t really like the idea of going into something without a clearly defined set of rules and guidelines. I especially don’t like feeling like I’m doing something wrong. When I first attempted, I wanted to be able to turn off my thoughts right away. That is not how it works though, so I was setting myself up for failure. In the Basics packs, I was learning the techniques and tools that would be beneficial for meditation (and that would ultimately spill over into my time spent not meditating, which is a large chunk of the day!).

I can’t recommend Headspace enough, especially if you’re just starting out. I found the little videos and guided meditations to be so helpful. Instead of feeling lost and confused, and then frustrated, I felt like I was being led down this eye-opening path by a wise friend.

Headspace will give you a good sense of what to do and how to do it, but two visuals, in particular, helped me tremendously at the beginning. The first was the idea of thoughts being like clouds in the sky. The clouds are there, but they move along the sky. Like those clouds, it’s okay to have thoughts go through your mind while you’re meditating! (This was the biggest relief for me because I instantly realized that I wasn’t “messing up.”) The key is to remember that the thoughts will pass, just as clouds will pass through the sky. The second is a strategy called “noting.” Again, Headspace goes into details about it, but the basic idea is that instead of fixating on an emotion (and then spiraling deeper into it), you simply note what you’re feeling. The feather on the glass visual is something I use daily– it’s helped me get some space between my emotions and myself.

(While I linked to those Headspace videos, can we just talk about Andy’s voice? I love it… so calming!)

When I started meditating, I was looking for short-term relief for some of my issues and I certainly found that in addition to discovering a long-term solution and strategy. Beyond just having general anxiety, I experience near constant intrusive thoughts from OCD (that I termed “bad tapes”). It’s something I’ve dealt with for as long as I can remember. It’s frustrating at best, debilitating at worse. It ebbs and flows a little bit, but it’s almost always something I struggle with. I’ve tried everything over the years, with some strategies working more than others.

Meditation seems to be the one thing that helps the most overall and most consistently, while still allowing me to feel like myself. I feel so much more in control of my thoughts instead of feeling like my thoughts control me… or by trying to do something that feels like a quick fix instead of a strategy I can implement whenever and wherever I need it. It’s hard for me to explain how I feel on a daily basis, which is one reason why I’ve largely not addressed it before. The best way I’ve come up with is to liken it to being trapped in a room with a person. Sometimes the person is annoying (like being seated next to someone on an airplane smacking gum). Sometimes the person is distracting (like trying to concentrate on a class lecture while another student behind you carries on a conversation with someone on her phone). And sometimes it’s downright scary (like someone screaming at you). My thoughts can range from being scary, distracting, and/or annoying. With meditation, it’s not like the thoughts disappear entirely, but I have some space from them… like that annoying/distracting/scary person being in a closet with a closed door or even in another room altogether.

Meditation is NOT a cure for me, but it’s a highly effective management tool. I wish it were something that I had implemented a lot sooner in my life. I know I could have benefitted from meditating as early as elementary school. I used to have panic attacks at least once a week (where my day could/would be completely interrupted) and, in the past year, I’ve only had about four. FOUR IN A YEAR. This is a massive quality of life improvement for me. I know this is going to sound dramatic, and again, I don’t say this lightly, but there have been points in my life where the intrusive thoughts and panic attacks have felt like a weight that would never leave me. It contributed to a feeling of despair like life could never and would never get better. That is no way to live!

While it has helped me with anxiety and OCD in particular, meditation is something everyone should be doing, even if someone doesn’t have a diagnosed problem. It’s just good for mental health and overall well-being.

I will say though, as simple as meditation is (you’re basically just focusing on your breath), it is NOT easy. I think people confuse simplicity with ease. Meditation can be hard, and that’s okay. In fact, I think the difficulty of it is ultimately what makes it so amazing. A trainer said this during a workout I did and I thought about how amazing it is: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” Know that you’re going to come out better on the other side of a challenge!

Since I have started meditating and sharing my practice on social media, I tend to get a LOT of the same questions over and over again. I’m going to address some of the FAQ the best that I can. I will say though, there are way better resources out there, so if what I’m saying (from my personal experience) isn’t doing it for you, definitely conduct your own research. Headspace’s website, for example, has a wealth of information to serve as a good foundation for learning.


How do you remember to do it?

The Headspace app tracks your “streak” for meditation. This was super helpful for me because it made me hold myself accountable. It was two-fold in that, the more days I did it, the more I was encouraged to continue. And the more days I had under my belt, the easier it became to remember. I wanted to do it every day because I felt so much better when I did. Over time, it became a true habit for me. If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend committing to doing it every day for a month. I promise you that if you stick with it, you will create a wonderful daily habit.

When do I do it?

Figuring out when to meditate is going to be different for everyone. My schedule is so all over the place that I don’t have one set time, although I wish I did. Because I have the dogs to walk and take care of in the morning, doing it first thing doesn’t exactly work for me. I’m often too tired at night to meditate without falling asleep, so I have found that using meditation as a mid-day break works best for me. That’s not always the case, but it’s what I fall back on more often than not. If I have some “dead” time, it works even better… I meditate on the train going into the city, if I have awkward time between two phone calls, etc.

And even though I meditate every day with the Headspace app, I have been finding myself mediating throughout the day without it. When I get frustrated with something or if I’m bored in line, I’ll meditate, focusing in on my breaths and turning inward instead of focusing on what’s going on around me. Meditation can happen anywhere and that’s a) why I love it and b) why it’s been so beneficial for my anxiety.

Meditating at night is also great, but I’d do it in addition to your daily meditation. I love the “Falling Asleep” guided meditation and the quick “unwind” singles on Headspace right before I get into bed.

What tips do you have for being consistent?
So I shared a post about how I have adopted journaling into my life, but the tips I include there are just generally good tips for getting into the habit of anything. Most importantly, you have to figure out the WHY. I swear, once you figure out that, it’s half the battle.
More tips: write it in as a line item on your daily to-do list, set a daily alarm or reminder on your calendar, get a friend to do it with you, try to keep a streak going*, keep track of your meditation and (!!!) how it makes you feel for positive reinforcement, etc.
* If kids these days can keep year-long streaks with their friends on Snapchat, you can do it with meditation!
Where can I find apps or other ways to meditate?
I can only speak to Headspace because that’s what I have been using, but it’s not free. I will say, I have found it to be INCREDIBLY worth it. There is a free trial and it shows up on Groupon now and then, so keep your eyes peeled for a good deal!
There are other meditation apps (a few of my friends use Calm) and you can even pull up some guided meditations on Youtube. If you’re going the Youtube route, I recommend listening to it before you get going just to make sure it’s what you want. I’ve done a few super weird ones. Youtube is free and you can look up how to meditate without needing any kind of app. Literally, all you need is yourself. Even simply counting your breaths works. You certainly do not need to spend any money meditating– that’s part of the beauty of it, it’s accessible to everyone!
Have you ever been frustrated with a specific pack and do you “quit.”
[This is a Headspace specific question.] YES! I have quit a few different packs and, frankly, I use the singles more than anything else. I have absolutely hated a few packs. There’s one visualization (where the liquid light is coming down from the crown of your head and then building up from your toes), let’s just say, it doesn’t do it for me. The Basic packs are all great and I would highly recommend those as well as exploring and figuring out what works for you the best.
And going off of that, what packs do I like the most?
My favorite is the simple guided meditation. You can’t go wrong. 10 minutes is my jam. (Although I’m trying to work up to more.) I also love that Headspace has started doing daily guided meditations because they give you a new intention to set/focus on every day.  The falling asleep one, as I mentioned, is also great and they just released sleep sounds. (If you’re reading this Headspace people, I’d LOVE it if the guided sleep meditations ended with a sleep sound at the end!)
How did it affect people around me?
One of my favorite things about Headspace is how it gives you different things to think about, kind of like prompts. Some of the “everyday” singles I’ve done has encouraged me to think about how my calmness will spill over into my relationships. As much as I believe meditation to be for yourself, it can have a great impact on your relationships too.
I’d say the biggest change for the people around me though is that I have encouraged a number of my friends to begin a meditation journey of their own. I LOVE hearing that a close friend benefited from it just like I have, especially when I know that person had been struggling with something, whatever that may be.
How do you stay focused?
It’s hard! I try to be forgiving. I remind myself that it’s a practice of meditation, and that perfection isn’t the goal. Remembering those passing clouds is also helpful. Some days my mind is very cluttered, and I just try to stay focused breath by breath. “Can I focus on this one breath, then this one breath, now this one breath…”
Meditation spot, sitting down, headphones? 
I try to practice meditation in all kinds of environments so that if a situation arose where I needed to meditate (like if I felt a panic attack coming on), I would feel empowered to meditate my way through the anxiety.
But for my everyday practice? I’ve tried a few different setups, but sitting on the floor with my back against the couch (to encourage better posture) is the most effective. I only use headphones when I’m in public, such as the train, but otherwise, find that if I’m in a quiet space, I don’t necessarily need it. Sometimes my dogs are a little crazy and the headphones do help in that case. I have found that I meditate better with a little bit of noise because it allows me to practice for a time when I might not have the option of muting the world.
Is it like exercise where you see results after a while or every day?
I found it to be helpful from Day 1, but in the same way that you might feel great after working out even if you’re not “in shape.” My appreciation for meditation has come along in the same way that my actual practice has– it does get better every day. Not necessarily easier, mind you, but definitely improvement the more I do it.
Have you felt anxious while you’re meditating? 
Yes! So before Headspace, I would experience anxiety that stemmed from perfectionism. Now that I use Headspace and understand how meditating works, I don’t get that kind of anxiety anymore. I’ve shed, as unnatural as it may be for my personality, the need for perfection because I know meditation is NOT about being perfect.
I also throw on an SOS single when I’m feeling panicky, so I obviously start that feeling anxious. But there is something so amazing about focusing on your breath to melt the anxiety away. Even if I feel anxious after, I try to focus on how I still feel better than I did when I started and progress is always a positive thing.
Have you considered going on a meditation retreat?
A retreat is definitely something I want to do at some point. I was inspired after reading 10% Happier by Dan Harris. If anyone has any recommendations for one, I’m all ears! I actually love meditating so much and it’s made such a positive impact on my life, that I’d eventually like to be certified to teach it, especially to young people.
When did I feel like I was actually meditating 
I would say that this is an ongoing practice. After the three basic packs, I felt like I had a good understanding of what I was doing– and why I was doing it. That was probably the biggest turning point I’ve had, but every day I feel like I make progress.

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Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

There was one week this past month that was especially rough, and during that week I downloaded Headspace. I’ve heard about Headspace for years it seems like, but meditating wasn’t a new concept for me so I wasn’t swept up by the craze. Anywho, I downloaded it and it really helped calm my mind, learn to let go, and learn to be kind to myself. And this was just from the basic pack! I haven’t subscribed to Headspace for access to the rest of it because it’s not exactly cheap, and I don’t know how often I’d actually use it, but for now, the basic pack is enough for me. That said, I do think I need to not turn to Headspace only when I’m feeling my lowest and hoping for a cure, but rather build a habit around it, because I think that everyone can benefit from meditating. // The most helpful thing for consistent meditation for me was figuring out a “when” that worked for me and not forcing it 🙂 -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s


Thank you for sharing the experience, it’s so inspiring! I guess I will try it very soon. Headspace, gonna add it to my list.

Erin Lucy

I love Headspace! It is such a great app and has worked well for me also over the past year. Its great to hear your thoughts!



I meditate every day with my 4th graders and it has changed our classroom! Building in the practice has helped them so much and I’ve heard from parents how it is spilling into their home lives. It should truly be required!!


YES! This!

I used to teach in the inner city and our school implemented a daily meditation time for everyone. It was INCREDIBLE to see how it affected the kids. We actually did it 2-3 times a day because of how incredible it was for them!


I started using headspace about 6 months ago (based on your recommendation and review) and have noticed a major difference in my day to day life as well. It has been SO helpful for my anxiety and depression. Thank you so much for sharing so much about it, I hope others benefit from it too!

Taylor |


After hearing about your experience with Headspace I downloaded the app immediately felt a difference. The visual that speaks to me the most is the passing traffic – it’s okay to watch the cars go by, I just don’t need to grab ahold to one and go for a ride. Thank you so much for sharing something so personal throughout the year – you have a true positive impact on people ‘s lives, including my own. xAllie


Way to go on 365 days!

I have had Headspace downloaded on my phone for YEARS (literally years), but never used until you started talking about it last year. I did a session here and there, but I committed in earnest on January 1 of this year and have loved the results. I didn’t get off the ground right away at an every day practice, but I’m currently 12 days into my streak and almost finished with the Basics Pack 3. I’ve also started incorporating some singles on top of my daily Basic and the sleep sounds at night.

The best compliment that I have received this year was from my sister, who noted that my temper seemed to be running much lower than normal. I had told her back around New Years that I was planning on incorporating meditation into my daily routine, and she asked if I was still doing it. When I said yes, she replied with, “That must be why I see such a difference in your temperament. Way to go!”

I also agree with you, for the Headspace people reading this, to end the guided sleep meditations with a sleep sound!

Best money I spend every month. 100% worth it.


Yes! I’ve had two similar experiences recently… My accountant saying that I seemed a lot calmer leading up to tax season (which is a big trigger for my anxiety haha) and my mom saying I sounded calmer on the phone about the move despite having a few big problems to deal with!! It’s always nice to when someone can note a change from the outside that I feel on the inside!


Congrats on reaching the 1 year mark! That’s truly incredible. I teach yoga and I agree it was hard for me to get on board with a lot of the teachings that surround yoga and meditation (~woo woo~ is such a great way to describe it all haha), but it’s truly incredible how much of a difference it’s made in my yoga practice and my overall well being.

Thanks for sharing your journey with us all and helping so many others bring meditation into their lives as well!

xo, Taylor

Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona

I’m a huge fan of Headspace too! I decided to pay for it once I’d finished the free sessions and I managed to find a 40% off promo code for it. Seriously the best money I’ve spent in 2018.


Yes! I actually think you’ll find that each practice helps the other– your yoga and meditation will both improve!


I’m very glad that this is working for you. You are very sweet to share your personal struggles with overwhelming thoughts and anxiety. So many people struggle with these issues, but are reluctant to talk about them. I consider praying the rosary to be my “meditation”. It is amazing how much it calms me down in times of trouble and brings me peace. I’m glad you have gotten some peace from daily stresses, and I will pray for you that it continues.

Alyssa Pacetti

I’ve downloaded Headspace probably 10 times and can’t make it past three days. I’m going to give it another shot. What is a SOS single? “I also throw on an SOS single when I’m feeling panicky,” Is this something you do for people around you to let them know how you’re feeling without having to say it.


It’s a quick guided meditation within headspace if you’re feeling panicky!


I broke my streak on Headspace (skipped two days)! Have you ever done that before? Do you start over or just go from where you left off? I’m not too far along the pack.


I downloaded Headspace on your recommendation and love it! “Get to the blue sky” has become a sort of mantra for my boyfriend and I when we notice the other is feeling stressed or anxious! ha. I’m super impressed with your year-long streak!


Thank you for posting this!! You so inspiring and motivate me to practice better self care. I downloaded Headspace last year based on your recommendation because I too suffer from anxiety. I really enjoy meditation but I really struggle with staying consistent. I meditate daily for a few days but then I will miss a day and get discouraged and quit. I too am a perfectionist!! Are there any tips that you have to staying consistent??


This is such an encouraging post, Carly! I’m like you and always felt that meditation was a bit to out there for me, but once I had tried it a few times, I came around. For me, its working on constant practice, so congratulations on 365 days! That’s amazing.


Meditation has helped me cope with a chronic illness. The support group for my illness suggested alternative ways to cope such as music, drawing, imagery, thai yoga massage and meditation. I attended a few weekend retreats focusing on centering prayer which is basically faith based meditation. I learned a lot about myself and how I process information when anxious from pain. I am fortunate to live close to a retreat center that offers “silent” weekends. It was a good experience. Last year I was researching the enneagram and found a retreat center in Omaha called Gravity. I could not attend but one of the founders spoke at a retreat in Tennessee (which I did travel to and attend). It was really cool to be around like minded people. Carly, you are truly an inspiration to many. Sounds cliche but I don’t know how else to say it. Be well.


That is amazing– I’m so glad you were able to find peace through meditation!


Thanks Carly! Based on your recommendations and experience, and some of the posts you’ve had, I have started doing mediation, and feel it has really helped me with what sound like similar constant anxiety issues. Thanks for sharing your experience!


I took a mindfulness course as part of my MBA, taught by a professor who starts the class with “meditation literally saved my life” and is a course I constantly reflect back to in my own life/work. ( Part of the course requirement was to attend a weekend long silent rereat – something I totally scoffed at, but oh my goodness if you’re even remotely serious about mindfulness practice, you 100% should take the time to do so. I went to school in California, so the retreat was local, but I can’t recommend Deer Park Monastary in Escondido enough. I just re-kindled my practice with the headspace app and LOVE it. Great to hear another person’s perspective, as I too struggle with anxiety.


I took a mindfulness course as part of my MBA, taught by a professor who starts the class with “meditation literally saved my life” and is a course I constantly reflect back to in my own life/work. ( Part of the course requirement was to attend a weekend long silent rereat – something I totally scoffed at, but oh my goodness if you’re even remotely serious about mindfulness practice, you 100% should take the time to do so. I went to school in California, so the retreat was local, but I can’t recommend Deer Park Monastary in Escondido enough. I just re-kindled my practice with the headspace app and LOVE it. Great to hear another person’s perspective, as I too struggle with anxiety.

(I’m also reposting this, because in an ironic twist of fate, my mind completely wandered away and I merged my personal and work email into some hyper-weird email combination, and maybe that matters? hah)


I highly recommend a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class. It really takes meditating to a new level. The class is 8 weeks. There are both live classes and online classes. Headspace is great.


Oh my god, yes! The liquid light thing isn’t working for me either. I thought I might just have to get used to it, but I also quit several packages with this particular feature.


Thank you for sharing this! I am currently reading 10% Happier and have personally found meditation to be an incredible life changer!


If you’re considering a meditation retreat, I’d look up Ananda Ashram and the Omega Center, both just an hour or two north of NYC in the Hudson Valley (Monroe and Rhinebeck)- so they’re easy to visit for just 1-2 nights! You can probably visit just for the day even, but I’m not sure how each works for that as I visited both for a yoga-focused weekend. Ananda Ashram is a very no frills yoga ashram, while Omega is more a of a hippie retreat with some yoga, but both have meditation time in the weekend schedules and some lovely buildings specifically for meditation and quiet reflection. Omega probably has meditation focused workshops as well, although you can also just do their “R&R” retreat and have a lovely time.


Thanks so much for sharing! As a fellow anxiety and OCD sufferer, I appreciate your explaining of unwanted intrusive thoughts. I recently had a flare-up (first in about 5 years) and have been finding alternative ways to overcome because I know it can be done. I’ll definitely be looking into Headspace now!!