On Meditating Without Ever Having Meditated
My experience of taking a 10 day online meditation course.
I had never ever mediated in my life. Well, to be honest I have many a times been alone with just my thoughts, but I had never called it meditation and I sure as heck had never gone through a guided mediation course.
The course I took was the 10-day free trial of one of the most popular online guided meditation offerings at headspace.com. I had heard of it on some podcast — that I don’t remember the name of — and was intrigued to try it out, since at least for the last 10 years I had been suffering from mild anxiety, and I was kind of sold on the benefits of dedicating something like 10 minutes a day on your mind after watching the TED talk of the founder Andy Puddicombe.
So without knowing what I’m doing or even on some level why, I sat down at my desk, in front of my computer, put my headphones on and went on to their website. The website itself had a pretty cool aesthetic feel to it. It wasn’t designed to make you feel like you’re soon going to go on some sort of a spiritual journey or connect with your inner self, etc. etc. The message, the way I took it, was more like “we know you’re a busy professional, your mind is probably too cluttered, we’re here to help un-clutter it.” So I started.
I remember the first session feeling kind of weird to begin with, but then slowly and steadily understanding why I’m doing what I’m doing and Andy’s calming British accent taking me on some sort of a mini trance. Having now completed the whole course I can clearly state that Day 1 was the most impactful. I felt really good after it. I felt calmer and more peaceful than I usually am and I was determined that I was going to continue with the course.
This is when I first thought about whether or not I’m going to subscribe to this thing after the first 10 days were over. At this point, on Day 1, at about 5 minutes in the meditation and onwards I was pretty sure that I would, in fact, subscribe.
Just as I mentioned before, Day 1 was the most impactful and Days 2–9, although still of the same good quality, failed to have such a strong impact on me as Day 1 did. This is understandable though, as on Day 1 I was completely new to the whole thing and did not know what to expect. For the rest of days I knew exactly what to expect and there were not many new additions or changes to the daily 10 minute exercise. Every few days or so there would be a short animation before the 10 minute exercise that would try to explain — usually with the help of metaphors — that we should not fear or try to cling to our thoughts and rather we should just learn to calmly let them go by.
I couldn’t help but think that this whole course was some watered down version of what real meditation is, and even though I knew this, I also couldn’t help but think that it was actually helping me.
The final day of the course came, and I had already made it into a routine. I sat in front of my computer, straight after waking up, put on my headphones and started the exercise.
During the course of it I knew that this was the last one and that I needed to make the decision on whether or not I would subscribe to it. I knew now that it was helping me and by this time I could just do it on my own — every morning I would wake up and do the exact same thing I had been doing for the last nine days, just without the website, the little animations, and without Andy’s voice guidance. However, I was growing increasingly curious as to what would come next. What would Level 2 feel like? What would the more advanced sessions on topics like Anxiety, Depression, Creativity feel like.
And every time drifted away on these thoughts, Andy’s voice would calmly remind me to get back to my meditation.
At the end, I decided to get a one month subscription to Headspace. I will move on to Level 2 and will document my progress as I go.