A better headspace

I’m on Day 13 of a new work-week routine: Morning meditation and abstention from coffee. Today is Saturday, which means it’s a cheat day: I skipped my morning meditation, had two cups of coffee, and for the first time clearly felt the impacts of both.

The setup

We’re taking a wonderful little weekend-away in Stowe, and I haven’t had a coffee all week. 45 minutes after a late breakfast and a second cup of coffee, my mind suddenly started racing. Not about anything in particular, but I noticed that I’d lost the ability to focus on what I was reading or on any one train of thought. I also noticed a familiar physical feeling: jittery, uncomfortable, hungry and yet not; I often get this feeling in the early afternoon on particularly busy workdays, especially if I haven’t yet eaten.

I decided it was time for a break, went upstairs, set my phone to Do Not Disturb, and launched Headspace.

The impacts: Coffee bad, meditation good.

Half-way through my 15-minute meditation session, I realized the following:

  • I could hear my heart beating. While not distracting, this was unusual;
  • I was breathing deeply, but much more rapidly than usual;
  • I felt almost tingly all over, restless, a radiating sense of wanting to move;

I realized those things, and then let them go.

My breathing slowed. My focus returned. The discomfort faded into the background. And by the time Andy checked in and suggested it was time to let my mind wander freely, it no longer needed to go anywhere.

I had meditated.
And it was good.

From the beginning

I didn’t have a specific reason for starting either practice, though both can be credited to Tim Ferriss (I blame Tim for lots of the new things I’ve tried over the past 6 months). Meditation is a constant theme in his work, and I took the decision to reduce my coffee intake while listening to his interview with Jocko Willink.

I started on a Monday.

On meditation, I made a 10-day commitment (Headspace gives you 10 free sessions) to meditating first thing every morning, and set my alarm 15 minutes early so that the new habit wouldn’t affect the rest of my morning routine or timing.

I think that meditating first thing in the morning has made it easier to practice and learn, but harder to identify the results. Today’s experience made clear the value of the practice, but would have been harder without a little previous grounding in it.

On coffee, I made no commitment at all. I just didn’t have one on Monday. Then I didn’t have one on Tuesday. On Sunday, feeling tired and hungover, I gave myself a cheat day, but again on Monday returned to tea.

Given how I felt today, I’m still not sure what I’ll do tomorrow.