I Meditated For 365 Days Straight. Here’s What Happened

Originally published for MindBodyGreen.

Photo by Erika O’Conor

I started meditating on a whim. One of those #100daychallenges caught my eye, and since I had been a longtime sufferer of anxiety and overanalyzing everything, I chose meditation to test out the alleged benefits I kept reading about. For 100 days straight, I was going to meditate for 20 minutes.

Now, I’ve been meditating for more than a year — and my life is completely different.

It was not easy to start. For the first few days, even five minutes of just sitting and breathing was extremely difficult.

Jumping into 20 minutes straight was like trying to run a marathon on day one of training, I realized, and so I scaled back. I started with five minutes, and though I still had a tiny LA traffic jam of thoughts crossing through my mind at times, I always felt relaxed and clearer-headed afterward.

Here’s where I was when I started meditating: in an abusive, toxic relationship, unsure of what I was going to do with my life or how I was going to be a writer, and my anxious tendencies had my mind spinning tires in mud. I was stuck.

After about a week of daily meditation, I was already up to 10 minutes. By week two, 20 was nothing. It became the center of a new morning routine, preceded by oil pulling and sage burning, followed by some gentle stretching and time for writing. By day 40, I more or less stopped marking the days in my journals because, for the first time in my life, I had clear focus unbounded by anxiety.

I started remembering more and more of my dreams and the signs from my subconscious became clear. I found a challenging, fun job that I am passionate about. I left the toxic relationship. I feel incredibly balanced and have a far more positive outlook on life.

I can say with certainty that a daily meditation practice has more than changed my life. It has changed me into a more grounded, productive person. I don’t react immediately to issues and have a clear view of the goals that I want to achieve. I’ve been writing more and more; I’m now working on a book rather than a constant stream of undeveloped ideas. I have the self-discipline to say no to things that I used to cave in to: meaningless drinks with people I didn’t care for, hitting the snooze button, wasting time on things I didn’t care about, and feeling sorry for myself or bad about what I thought others might think.

I have more self-awareness and compassion for others — I call my mom more, smile at rude strangers since they might just be having a terrible day, and am more grateful for what I have. I even decided to break up with NYC and move my entire life to the mountains.

Meditation has trained my brain to be more focused and productive. It’s made me less prone to running with feelings of worries and what-ifs. It’s made me see myself, my life, and how to get things done very clearly. A year later, my 100-day meditation challenge is well over. Now, the real challenge would be living life without it.