I Tried Meditation for 30 Days—Here's What I Learnt
Both holistic practices and science have talked about the many benefits of meditation and mindfulness, which can be especially helpful in our modern fast-paced lifestyles. I decided to try it out for myself—meditating every day for thirty days, and here is how it went.
Yogic traditions have always highlighted the importance of mindfulness, and science also backs up the effect meditation can have on our well-being. According to a study review published in JAMA Internal Medicine, meditation based programmes may be helpful in reducing psychological stress. Another review published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that transcendental meditation can be effective for individuals with anxiety. Research also suggests that there may be other benefits such as alleviating symptoms of depression and issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, reducing blood pressure, and improving attention.
Curious to see if meditation would help me deal with the stress of the daily grind better, I decided to try meditating every day for thirty days.
How It Went
From instructions about changing a light bulb to rocket science, there is nothing you can't find a tutorial for on YouTube. So I got to researching, and as expected, typing in "meditation how to do" brought dozens and dozens of meditation routines to my fingertips. I decided to start out small—five to seven minutes a day for the first few days after waking up, hoping to begin my day on a peaceful note, just to get me started. I started off with positive energy and morning affirmations meditation. It was a little hard to clear my mind and be present at first, I have to admit. Other thoughts kept popping into my head, and I would get distracted by noises from my surroundings (especially because I had chosen a spot on my balcony to sit and meditate). But following along with the guiding videos helped centre my attention, and after the first few days, it became easier to filter out these distractions.
The next week, I decided to do my daily meditation right before going to bed, to see if it helped with my sleep. I put to use the time usually devoted to pre-bedtime social media doomscrolling for a calming meditation routine (which involved trying out videos geared towards facilitating better sleep), instead. I don't know if it affected my overall sleep quality in any way, but it did help me wind down and fall asleep faster. Maybe it was the not using devices right before bed part, maybe it was the deep breathing, but my mind felt somewhat quieter and I felt more relaxed before turning in for the night.
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Full confession, during the third week, I had such a hectic schedule that it ultimately led me to skipping my daily meditation for a few days. This was counterproductive, of course, because that was when I was stressed the most. Not only was my never-ending to-do list a lot to handle, but not being able to get those few minutes of time to ground myself in the middle of all the rush added to the chaos (Side note: if you, like me, tend to put off doing small chores and then get overwhelmed later when they pile up, take a look at how this one-minute rule may help you out).
The last week went much smoother than the one before, and I realised that I had sort of developed a habit of meditating by that point, actively looking forward to sitting down and tuning out all the noise around me. I was not even really thinking about the thirty day challenge, I looked forward to it.
What I Learnt
That it did seem to work for me, to some extent. I genuinely felt like it affected my mood and how I went about my day in a positive way. I also noticed myself experiencing a sense of calm after my daily meditation session. If nothing else, the very habit of doing something consistently gave me a notion of order. Reminding myself to breathe deeper during stressful, anxious moments—an action born out of this daily habit that I was now practising—also helped. I don't think thirty days was long enough for me to notice any drastic changes in my overall attention span, but as the days went by, my ability to drown out other thoughts and focus became much, much better. Taking that little time out just for myself does feel like self-care. I am interested in seeing what happens further down the line.
Although I chose to follow along with different YouTube videos for my challenge, I also came across the names of some free apps like Insight Timer, suggested for beginners looking to get into practising mindfulness. Starting out small, with easy five minute sessions, helped me develop an enjoyable habit out of meditating more effortlessly over the course of the thirty days. Compared to a lot of activities we want to pursue but never end up doing, the minimum effort involved here makes meditating a beginner-friendly pursuit.
Will I stick with this habit, now that my thirty days are over? Yes, I do want to try, although I am not sure if I can do it without fail every single day. But perseverance over perfection, am I right?
I wonder what else I could try out for a month next.
Do you meditate? Have you picked up any new habits recently? Drop a comment below and share your thoughts!
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