I Meditated Every Day for a Month and Here's What Happened

“Meditation is about letting go, not trying, not doing anything in fact.” – Headspace

I think I’m naturally a busybody. I like having tasks to accomplish, and I get a bit anxious when I’m not busy. It's easy for my anxiety to brew and sometimes I won’t notice how anxious I feel until I’ve reached the point of exhaustion. So I figured it was about time to stop being so busy, and to take a moment to step back and enjoy what life has to offer.

I had no idea where to even begin in this new quest of mindfulness, but I had always heard of the endless benefits that came out of meditation. So I started looking into meditation methods, and came across one app called “Headspace.” It’s free, and it seemed pretty self-explanatory, so I thought “why not?” The app starts with a quick questionnaire about you and any previous meditative experiences you’ve had in the past. I put that I have never done any sort of meditation, so the app put me on the “Basics” lesson plan, which had 10 audio recordings; one for each day. The man speaking in the audio recordings spoke with a very soothing British accent (that almost put me to sleep), but definitely helped me get into the meditative mood.

It was hard to find time during the day to meditate (yes, even if it was just for 10 minutes), so I figured I would do it before I went to bed as a nice way to finish off the day. I kept a record of how I was feeling at the end of every week so I could see how much meditation would ease my bumbled mindset.

Week 1

I laid down in my bed, headphones in, facemask on, body relaxed. I didn’t really know what to expect from the first lesson. What was I supposed to be feeling? Some sort of euphoria? The man began speaking, and, with my perfectionist personality, I focused on doing exactly what he was saying. “Feel how your feet relax on the surface”, “Let your eyes naturally close with each deep breath you take—in through the nose, out through the mouth”, “Let your mind wander, and notice when your thoughts come back, and when they leave again.” But at a certain point, I felt like meditating was stressing me out more than I already was! I felt like if I wasn’t doing the instructor’s instructions right, then I wouldn’t have actually “meditated.” Was I doing something wrong?

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Week 2

By this point, I think I’ve started getting the hang of meditation. I finally got over trying to do everything right and just did what felt right. You really start to notice how many thoughts actually cross your mind in the span of a few minutes when you just let it wander. Going into it, I originally thought that meditation meant that your mind went blank for a couple minutes while you reached a certain point in your subconscious that allowed you to “relax.” But "Headspace" taught me that meditation is about allowing those thoughts to wander, and noticing when your thoughts leave and come back. For me, letting my thoughts leave felt like I was letting go of my stress and anxiety about things that happened during the day (which definitely led to a great night’s sleep).

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Week 3

After just three weeks of daily 10-minute meditation sessions, I felt myself feeling less anxious and tense throughout the day. Maybe it’s placebo, or maybe it’s not, but I noticed that even my back has started hurting less. I even started unconsciously doing some of the things from the sessions in daily life, like taking deep breaths periodically to calm myself down instead of letting out exasperated sighs when I’ve neared my threshold. I’ve also started noticing the little things around me that I probably wouldn’t have noticed before, like the little sounds you would hear outside: birds, the wind, bikers that were far away. (Also, there were only eleven free sessions, so I redid those for the remainder of the month.)

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Week 4

At this point in my “meditative journey,” I began looking forward to end-of-the-day meditation because it actually felt quite nice. Disclaimer: I still have no bloody clue if what I’m doing is “correct,” or if what I’m feeling is what I’m supposed to be feeling. However, I can feel that my stress levels have definitely decreased compared to the beginning of the month. I’ve been happier and slightly more energetic during the day (except at 8am’s, those are pretty bad). I probably won’t continue to do it every day, but I’ll definitely do it every once in a while to keep stress levels low.

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The major life lesson I've learned: Meditating has taught me to actually listen to my body and my mind. Instead of constantly pushing myself to be more productive and punishing my mind if I wasn’t as productive as I’d have liked, I’ve learned to take breaks when my mind needs it, and to rest when my body tells me it’s time to stop for the day.