I just finished my one-hundredth day of meditating n a row!!! One hundred days! It seems like such an accomplishment honestly.
This is not my first (or second) time trying to commit to meditation, but it’s the first time where I truly understand the benefits of it. The last time I tried, it was actually for a personal challenge I was doing with Maxie years ago. I hated it so much that I vowed I would never do it again. I thought meditation was supposed to bring, I don’t know, clarity or something. Instead, I felt frustrated and lost.
Then at the end of February, I was going out to dinner with the guy I was (but “am,” sorry I don’t know how else to say it) seeing. The restaurant was super crowded and loud, and I was feeling overwhelmed, and he was tense, and we both decided just to bail on the restaurant. He ended cooking dinner and encouraged me to download Headspace because I couldn’t shake the stress. To be honest, I downloaded it but didn’t use it for a couple of weeks. (Because I’m stubborn, whoops.)
Anyway, the app is an AMAZING way to figure out how to meditate. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it. The app guides you through meditations and builds your “meditation muscle.” Instead of feeling lost, each session builds on the past one, so you slowly ease into it.
I started off with just the sleeping meditation sessions. For me, it was the least intimidating of the bunch. And I, surprisingly, found myself falling into deep sleep very quickly. I’m a notoriously deep sleeper but falling asleep has always been a challenge for me. I start running through a million lists and over-thinking and over-analyzing and the next thing I know it’s 3 am. The first night I did the sleeping meditation, I legitimately woke up the next morning and realized I never heard the end of it!
I kept doing the sleeping meditation almost every night. Without realizing it, I had gotten hooked. I decided to go for the yearly membership. It’s not “cheap,” but I figured that it was a fraction of the cost of one therapy session or a month at my gym.
Two things that I think were critical to my success of my Headspace journey were the 10-day packs and the built-in goal setting. The 10-day packs, especially the foundation packs, are SO helpful in feeling like the meditation journey is do-able. I wasn’t looking at anything besides Day 1 or Day 5 or Day 9. It always felt manageable and completing each 10-day pack felt like a mini-accomplishment. And before I knew it, a month had gone by, and I completed the whole Foundation 1.
When I was 30 days in, I felt like I should try to keep going until I got to 90. It was a little competitive and probably not ~zen~ of me, but you know what? The ends justified the means here.
As I’ve told people that I’ve been using Headspace every day, the first question I get is, “Does it work?”
I think it’s a little more complicated than working, or not working, but here are the effects that I’ve experienced:
– I am calmer. I’m not a naturally calm person, and I wouldn’t say that I’m sitting in a field making flower crowns right now, but I feel noticeably more at ease in general. It’s a subtle change, but a change nonetheless.
– I approach stress differently now too. Part of the feeling calmer is that Headspace walks you through different ways on how to approach certain feelings and emotions. It’s hard to explain now that I’m trying to explain it, but it’s like I have a little toolbox of how to handle a stressful situation. For example, one of the descriptions used is “noting” your emotion like brushing a feather on a piece of glass. Instead of latching onto the feeling of anxiety, and immediately tensing up which spirals quickly out of control, I (try) to softly think, “Oh, this is anxiety.” It had taken 30 days of that exercise before it started to sink in, but it worked! And continues to work. (I think of that dumb feather every day it seems like!)
– I’ve had fewer panic attacks. The first time I remember having a panic attack was in fourth grade. (Although I’m sure my poor mom has horror stories of ones before that.) They’ve been a part of my life for so long that they almost seem normal. In the past 100 days, I’ve only had one full panic attack and about three almost/near/half panic attacks. For me, this is HUGE on so many levels, but especially the ones that were halfsies. Normally when they start, there’s no stopping them, and then I’m down for the count for at least a day or two. A half-attack is a sign that I’ve somehow been able to stop the spiral mentally. There have been days where I’ve said, “I think I’m going to have a panic attack” and I mean it. It truly feels like I might… but then I don’t. In some ways, it’s easier to have the panic attack (even though it feels like I’m dying and can’t breathe) because now I feel like I’m living through a deep-rooted uneasiness instead. But I think it’s progress. The uneasiness can be unsettling, but I believe that it’s me processing whatever’s happening and not just succumbing to sheer panic. (If that makes sense.)
– It’s the best ten minutes of my day. Everyone has ten minutes to spare to do this. I think it’s recommended that you do the meditation first thing in the morning, but that doesn’t always work for my schedule. I look forward to my ten-minute meditation so much. And now that I’ve gotten more used to how it works, I can do it almost anywhere, including Metro North! I pop in my noise canceling headphones and tune everything out for ten minutes, and it feels. so. good.
I really could talk about Headspace and meditating until I’m blue in the face. I highly recommend you give it a chance. Download the app and sign up for the free trial. Commit to doing it every day of the free trial. Find a time where it works for you and give yourself the freedom to enjoy the 10 minutes.
PS I am obsessed with Andy’s voice. He does the guided meditations in the Headspace app, and his voice is just so insanely soothing. I think he could talk anyone off the ledge!
PPS The app literally just got a new look last week. I’m so anti-change, but I actually find the new layout to fit the whole theme of the app so much more. It now looks calm if that’s even possible!
PPPS Now that I’m 100 days in, I have my eyes set on the 180-day marker. Can I do it?!?!