I’ve had a meditation practice for a few years now, since a client taught me Primordial Sound meditation when S was small. Since then I’ve had times where I meditated a lot, and whole months where I didn’t bother. I use the Insight Timer app to track my meditation (this post is not sponsored by them; I just think it’s a great app). The app tracks how many days in a row I’ve meditated, and also how many days overall I have meditated since I began.
Last year I got to 172 days of meditation; I even meditated when I was in hospital after emergency surgery. But then for some reason I stopped somewhere towards the end of October, and didn’t really start again properly. On January 1st I decided to start again at Day 1 and here I am in June, with 180 consecutive days of meditation under my belt. It’s only eight days longer than last time, but this time it feels different. Here is what I’ve learned from 180 days of meditation:
- A small change can make a big difference. You don’t need to commit to meditating for an hour every day; just five minutes per day can make a big difference over time. Just a few minutes to sit in silence and allow your bran to just rest and recalibrate can quickly stack up so that you eventually realise that it’s had a big impact on your life.
- Five minutes every day is better than an hour once a week. When I first began meditation, it was with Primordial Sound, where I was given a mantra and advised to meditate for thirty minutes every day. I tried it and it was great, but on the days where I felt I didn’t have thirty minutes – or those days where I didn’t feel I could sit for thirty minutes – I just didn’t meditate. By changing my approach and saying I would meditate every day, no matter how long for, I’ve found that not only have I managed to keep it up, but that now, after 180 days, I’m thinking, I only did half an hour today. It’s easier to sit in meditation for longer periods of time because I’ve built up to it, I think.
- The days where you don’t want to sit in silence are the days where you really need it. I mean, really need it. I went through a relationship breakup earlier this year, and had more than one day where I thought, f*** it all – I can’t be bothered with this. You know when you get that feeling, like you are justified in sabotaging yourself because someone has treated you badly or you just feel bad. On those days though, the days where I really didn’t want to do it – when I actually did sit down and meditate I felt so much better for it.
- Meditation is easier early in the morning. The thinking is that earlier in the morning, the space around us is not so filled up with other people’s thoughts. That might sound a bit woo-woo but actually I have found this to be true. On more than one occasion I’ve been awake at 4am and opted to meditate and then go back to sleep, because not only is it easier to meditate at that time of day, I find my meditation is of a better quality too when the majority of the rest of the world is yet to wake up.
- You can get a lot from guided meditations. I used to feel like guided meditations were just for people who didn’t know how to meditate without guidance. While they are great for people who don’t feel confident “going it alone” they can also be of immense benefit for experienced meditators. You can get a lot from a guided meditation, but also on those days where you don’t feel you can sit in silence for even five minutes, a guided meditation is as close as it gets to having someone sit beside you in that silence.
- Sometimes meditation is painful. Sometimes, when you’re already having a bad time, sitting alone in silence with that feeling is hard. In the past, this is where I’ve given up, and opted to watch something mindless on TV or read a fiction book or anything to distract myself. What I’ve found though is that if you just sit with it quietly, and try not to judge the thoughts and feelings that come up, they don’t last as long as when you wake up every day and try to avoid having them. (welcome to the Ministry of Stating the Bleedin’ Obvious)
- What you eat makes a difference. Wait, what? Yeah, I know. I find that when I meditate on a day when I’ve eaten a lot of rich foods – or even the morning after a very heavy meal – it’s harder to quiet my mind and even just to sit still. I’ve recently become vegetarian, and am making changes towards becoming vegan – because I find that my body feels better when I don’t consume animal products, but also my meditation feels… clearer is the only way I can think to describe it. I originally experimented with this diet change because I read that animal products stunt the flow of Reiki energy through the body and so far I have found this to be true not only for Reiki but for energy, thoughts and feelings in general.
- There is always still something to learn. Meditation is one of those things that’s different each time you do it, and I am always learning about it. I am learning new mantras, new crystals to meditate with, finding new guided meditations to take me to different places. I’ve been experimenting with vipassana meditation and even with chanting. There are so many different types and approaches of meditation, but also when you sit in silence and pay attention to your body and your intuition, the things you learn about yourself seem to be pretty endless.