What I Learnt from Meditating 30 Days in a Row

You can do it too, even if you’ve never done it before

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

Even if you’ve never meditated a day in your life or thought about it as an absolute waste of time, I’m here to tell you that you can start meditating. You don’t need to wait till tomorrow to begin either. You can start right here and right now.

I’ve started and stopped this practice many times in the last 15-odd years. But it was bang in the middle of the second wave of the COVID 19 pandemic in my country that I decided to give this thing another shot. So what happened?

Anxiety Reared its Head

Writing has always helped me with crippling anxiety and this time was no different. Turning to journaling and daily content creation was enormously helpful in stemming the tide of anxiety that threatened to overwhelm me on most days.

But it wasn’t enough. There was something missing. It was then that I realized that while writing helped keep the anxious feelings at bay in the process of creating, it didn’t really help me the rest of the day. How was I going to manage the rest of the time?

That’s when I turned to meditation and it came in the form of a book.

The Book That Made a Difference

As a reader, I owe a great deal of debt to books. They’ve played a huge part in how I look at life as well as how I’ve changed my perspective on issues.

When I was struggling to break a particularly challenging habit in mid 2019, I read Atomic Habits by James Clear and the way he laid it all out made such a difference to how I learnt to approach building good habits and breaking bad ones.

For meditation, however, the book that made all the difference was Andy Puddicombe’s The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness. Now, fair warning, that if you are an expert in meditation or a practising Buddhist, the book can come across as a bit ‘basic’, but for those of us who are looking to break out of a mental block when it comes to meditation, this book was a Godsend.

Based on what I read in this book — and I read it twice- here are some of the very simple tips that I can recommend to anyone looking to start their own meditation practice.

Start with a super small habit

If you’ve never meditated before, jumping straight into a 30-minute meditation will be foolhardy. Start with just 1 minute a day. Yes, just 1 minute. I know what that sounds like. Can you actually get centred, feel at peace and less anxious in just one minute a day?

The truth is, that one minute will help you overcome the stumbling block of meditating. Meaning, if you’re looking for an excuse to say, ‘I don't have time to meditate’, your mind can remind you gently: ‘Surely you have one minute right now to close your eyes, be mindful and present in this moment.’

Go on; try it right now. Stop reading this article. Put your phone down and set a timer for one minute. Close your eyes and gently observe your breath as it enters and leaves your body. You don’t have to force it or regulate it or concentrate or anything. Just be mindful of the breath. That’s it.

How did it go? Don’t you feel better?

See what I mean?

Build on the one-minute habit. Then slowly increase the duration as you get more and more comfortable with the idea. Keep the time to one minute daily so even on the days that you can’t possibly “find the time”, you can still get a one-minute meditation practice done for the day.

Use a Guided Meditation App

There are plenty of these available from Calm to HeadSpace to Insight Timer. I personally prefer Insight Timer because it has over 90,000 free guided meditation sessions for users.

From just a simple bell/gong that signals the end of the meditation to in-depth guided meditation sessions that can stretch to over an hour or more, you have the most incredible variety of meditation sessions available.

The fact that I get to see how many days I’ve meditated consistently is just the daily boost that I need to keep the streak going.

Screenshot of the Insight Timer App progress screen; provided by the author

Start Your Day with Meditation

Instead of opening social media (Yes, Instagram, I am looking at you!), the news or email apps on the phone in the morning, open your meditation app. Place it on the home screen of your phone so that it’s the first thing -and preferably, the only thing- you see when you unlock your phone in the mornings.

Starting your day with meditation is so wonderful for a variety of reasons. You learn to embrace the concept of slow living. Time is this flowing river and when you understand and infuse time affluence into your lives, you learn to go just a little bit further in your personal growth journey.

It is the understanding that we learn to move through our days with deliberate intention, purpose and mindfulness instead of frenzy, anxiety and scarcity.

Most time management books/posts will talk about how to squeeze the most out of your day, every hour and every minute of it. Any wonder that we feel constricted and suffocated?

There are two keys to time affluence:

1. Gently moving through each activity and paying beautiful attention to it with the wholesome flavour it deserves

2. Creating spaces in your day to do the things that matter

Mindfulness meditation helps you integrate time affluence seamlessly into your days, weeks and months.

Don’t Force Yourself to Meditate

The one thing I have learnt when it comes to meditation is that it’s easier for us to lose ourselves in it when we try not to force it.

When you close your eyes, don’t force your brain to stop thinking or focus on the breath or anything. Just allow yourself to be aware of what’s going on. Mindfulness meditation becomes easier to practice when we don’t structure it around any strict rules.

If there is one guideline that I’d recommend it’s to just set a simple reminder for yourself daily. Tell yourself that you will start your day with meditation, before you pick up your phone before you start your chores, and before the world starts demanding things of you.

The more we do this, the easier it is to slip into a comfortable habit of daily meditation.

The Main Benefits of Meditation

A daily meditation practice helps with your anxiety in ways that you can’t really anticipate. Mindfulness doesn’t take the worry away or hide it under an activity. It allows us to gently watch its appearance and manifestation in our lives without letting it overwhelm us.

Meditation helps you start understanding about the things within your control and things outside it. When things are outside your control, you learn to move into a space of surrender. You become calmer when handling conflicts whether these are at home or on the work front.

But most important of all, meditation helps you find more time to do the things you love from a space of awareness, gentleness and gratitude.

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Shailaja V

Shailaja V

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Digital minimalist. Writer. Bibliophile. Coach: I teach creators how to grow an organic audience without the overwhelm. More about me: www.shailajav.com