Several years ago, I had developed a regular meditation practice. When I started, it was a mystery to me. I was never sure if I was getting it quite right because it wasn’t always an easy thing to be doing. Sitting still was a challenge and holding a cross-legged position for any amount of time became uncomfortable. But just like physical exercise, the more I did it, the better it got. I felt more aware, relaxed and focused, but what I remember the most was feeling peaceful because I was doing something really good for myself; I was taking care of my mind.
In hindsight, I stopped meditating just when I needed it most. I had several big life changes at the same time. I got married, became a full-time stepmother, moved twice, started a new business while maintaining my old one, and took up long-distance running; all while dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event. I told myself I was “too busy to meditate” and celebrated my busy-ness.
Fast forward several years to this past autumn and winter to another round of big life changes (aka stress) in our lives. It was becoming common for me to articulate my overwhelm and it sounded something like this:
“I really should be f*ck**g meditating right now!”
While this statement was made with some awareness, it was hardly in the spirit of the act itself. Before I knew it, a solution to my inner predicament presented itself. I often watch TED talks on my tablet when it’s too unpleasant to run outside and I use our indoor cardio machine. It was the first week of January and I was seeking some inspiration. A TED talk with the catchy title All it Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes was in one of my social media feeds. I thought “Ten mindful minutes, I can do that,” and watched the video while I exercised. About one minute in, I realized the irony that even while considering mindfulness, I was multitasking.
Andy Puddicombe is the very engaging founder and voice of all things Headspace. After watching the video, I wanted to know more. I went to the Headspace website to downloaded the app with ten free 10 minute mindfulness sessions. Captivated by something new and the playful attitude of the app, I was off to the races.
My first run streak lasted a grand total of three days. I started again. The next streak was less than a week before it ended. When my ten days were up, I subscribed for a year because I loved the playfulness of the app itself. It resonated with “the spirit of play” in my coaching and I loved how easy it was to use.
As I progressed, my session length grew to 15, and then 20 minutes. I was feeling good about what I was doing. It was still challenging to fit it in daily, especially when I was traveling or had put it off until later in the day.
When I discovered that I could gift a 30 day subscription to someone if I meditated 30 days in a row, I had all the inspiration I needed. I had a concrete goal and a motivation that included someone I love. I meditated for thirty consecutive days, come hell or high water. It didn’t take long before I didn’t feel right if I hadn’t meditated to start my day.
As of today, I have meditated 88 times since I started my Headspace journey in January. My current run streak is 69 consecutive days of meditation. That is long enough to have created a habit by any standard. I have completed the Foundation program and will soon have completed the 2nd of three Health programs. My next step is to explore the Creativity and Focus packs. I love that I don’t need to put any more thought into structuring my practice than that. Andy has done all the work to make it easy. I also love that every morning, my husband asks me, “Have you meditated yet?” Maybe he likes me more when I have…
Most days my experience during my 20 minutes of meditation is best described as neutral; some of the time I’m there with my breath, and some of my time I’m off with my thoughts or feelings. Once in a while I have a tough time with it, like this morning. I had a particularly intense experience a couple of days ago, so it was harder for me to settle down. I do know that my meditation muscle is getting stronger because a couple of days ago (Day 67 in a row), I tapped into an experience I hadn’t had in a very long time. For a brief moment, there was a feeling that nothing separated me from all the joy and energy the Universe has to offer. This has to be what people mean when they say “one-ness”. It was brief, but it was there.
The next stage of my journey is to become more consciously mindful throughout the day. As if on cue, my phone reminded me of this today in a Headspace notification: “Meditation only becomes truly useful when we apply that new found sense of awareness to our everyday life and to our relationships.”
Thanks to Andy and everyone at Headspace for a fabulous tool for better, more mindful living and for significantly reducing the number of my f-bombs. What difference do you think a regular mindfulness practice could make for you?
To try Headspace for 10 days for free, go to www.headspace.com