Discover the benefits of meditation to feel less overwhelmed, relieve stress and anxiety, and improve focus.
“If you want to evolve, meditation and making positive lifestyle choices are important.” — Deepak Chopra, The Healing Self.
I was reminded of the powerful effects of meditation on mental and physical health after reading Deepak’s book in 2018. There is an abundance of scientific research and articles on the benefits of meditation to reduce stress, combat anxiety and even manage symptoms for cancer, heart disease and other medical conditions. It’s one of those practices we know we should do daily — like taking vitamins, flossing and exercising — but sometimes life gets in the way.
For the past few years, my meditation practice has been “on and off.” I've used apps like Headspace, signed up for virtual meditation groups, joined magical retreats in Maui and more. The excitement of trying something new helps jumpstart my journey, but the habit never seems to stick. Within a few months, my routine changes and I fall out of the practice — only to pick it back up again when my anxiety is running rampant and I am desperate to get out of my own head.
My latest meditation journey started just like that — I had (accidentally) stopped meditating for 3 months. My calendar was getting busier and my stress levels were rising. I felt like I was carrying a heavy load and barely keeping my head above water. Does this sound familiar?
Deep down, I knew the medicine I needed was already inside. I decided to recommit to meditation for 30 days.
I started with 5 minutes the first couple days and then increased the time to 10 minutes.
Each day of meditation brought something new. Some days were easy and meditation came naturally. Some days were hard and I felt like quitting. The lesson I learned was to continue showing up. It took six days for me to really notice the effects of the practice, but it made a big difference on my stress and anxiety levels. I felt lighter, like the weight I had been carrying wasn’t nearly as heavy and I could breathe again. I realized how important it is for me to continue this meditation practice (beyond 30 days) to maintain a sense of calm in the chaos.
I logged my experience and began to notice patterns. Here are some of the highlights:
Day 1: I was resistant to adding another commitment to my day, but I tried to keep an open mind
Day 3: I was so distracted! My thoughts were all over the place, but I kept reminding myself to focus on my breath. I extended my meditation from 5 minutes to 10 minutes to allow more time for my mind to settle
Day 4: I was tired, cranky and hot. Sitting still was hard!
Day 6: Something magical happened — I listened to my body when it needed to rest instead of pushing through tasks. I knew it would put me behind schedule, but I didn’t feel stressed about it. Somehow I believed everything would still get done. My perspective and relationship to my to-do list was changing
Day 11: I was filled with immense gratitude for the ability to be still and rest. I began a restorative yoga training and it complimented my meditation practice
Day 14: I felt a wave of creativity and offered something new to my yoga students
Day 16: I felt unmotivated to meditate and pushed it to the end of the day
Day 21: I saw more beauty in nature and took the time to meditate outside
Day 24: Traveling threw off my routine and meditating in bed was the best I could do
Day 28: I felt more present in my yoga practice and wanted to share that with my students
Day 30: I felt a wave of emotions during the day and I let myself feel them, confided in friends and practiced self-care
Are you ready to recommit to your meditation practice? In this video, I use movement, body scanning and breath counting to increase focus and relieve anxiety.
These are some tips I learned from meditating for 30 days:
Meditation doesn’t have to be pretty — you can do it in your pajamas, without makeup or even in bed
It can be helpful to move a little before you sit in meditation to help your body settle
The first five minutes are like the warm up before the workout. You have to move all the mental junk out of the way before you can find stillness. Allow yourself enough time to clear out the junk. For me, 5 minutes wasn’t enough time
Internal thoughts and external distractions will inevitably come up. Remember that this is a practice, so don’t be hard on yourself when you get distracted. Notice it, label it and let it go
Explore meditating at different times of the day to see what works best for you
Try a variety of meditation guides and techniques to see what resonates most. Your meditation style can change each day
To build meditation into your routine, try habit stacking — identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. For me, I found that meditating in the morning right after I turned on the kettle to boil helped solidify the routine
I hope the meditation practice and tips help you slow down your thoughts, find stillness and be more present in your day. If you found the meditation helpful, share it with your friends, family and community. I’d love to hear about your journey and how you feel after meditating in the comments below.