Meditation, to me, has always been one of those things that sounds so… kooky. I’ve never found occasion to use that word before, but this felt like the time. And it’s true – sitting down with your eyes shut for extended periods of time? For what reason?
And yet, meditation is definitely having its vogue moment. Easily for a couple of years now, really. And I’ve dabbled before – I downloaded the Insight Timer app back in my first year of university and used it somewhat sporadically. My streaks never lasted more than a few days at a time, but I must have found some benefit in it if I kept going back.
Skipping ahead to last month, I downloaded Headspace. You can get the subscription for free when you have a student subscription to Spotify – something I did already know some time ago, but at the time I couldn’t figure out how to get the accounts to link (oops). But I figured it out this time and decided to give it a go.
I don’t know what I expected, going in. I didn’t immediately decide to try it out for a month, but after it gave me this cute little image for having done 3 days in a row, I checked out the little ‘goals’ part of the app, where it tracks you as you reach certain milestones. 1 day, 3 days, 10 days, 15 days, 30 days, 90 days, 180 days, and 365 days. I figured I’d start with 30.
Headspace has ‘packs’ of meditation sessions – there’s a few Basics packs, of which I completed one, then they have Creativity, Managing Anxiety, Happiness, Productivity and more. There are also ‘singles’, which are of varying lengths and are intended for while you’re walking, or times you feel overwhelmed, things like that. Finally they have ‘minis’, which are all three minutes or under and are great for that spare couple of minutes where you just need a breather.
You hear a lot about the supposed benefits of meditation – as a stress reliever, as something to help you learn about yourself… And I guess I did learn some things. I definitely learned that deep breathing makes me yawn, and that was one of the biggest obstacles for me. I tend to naturally breathe through my mouth rather than my nose (weird, I know… I’m one of those), so concentrating on changing that is a challenge. My lungs are a little big for my ribcage as it is – it’s hard for me to take full breaths, which I don’t often notice on a day to day basis, but the deep breathing you do in meditation definitely made me more aware of it. My mum used to have that too, until she had kids and her ribcage expanded a little because of pregnancy.
I know a lot of people meditate to become more in tune with their body, but what I realised as the month went on was that I’m already pretty in tune with mine. I have to be, to some extent, because of my hypermobility. I tend to know which parts of my body are more tense, or inflamed, or strained etc. fairly intuitively.
What did become clear is that sometimes, my brain is just super busy. It can be hard to slow it down and focus. What I did find quite amusing was that, for some reason, the number one thing my brain wants to do while I meditate is play catchy tunes in my head and dance around a little. I wonder what the psychoanalysis of that would be!
I also started off with the intention of doing a session every morning, but in reality I think I spent most of the days putting it off until the evening. I found it really difficult to bring myself to meditate when I get up in the mornings, but going forward I would like to make myself do it then. The days I did, I think it’s safe to say I felt the benefits more.
So what was my overall experience like? Well, I didn’t have any major revelations. I don’t feel like any entirely new person, as some people claim. But I did find it to be an oddly enjoyable pastime – considering how bustling life can be, and how many of us nowadays rarely have a moment of silence, what with life happening all around us and listening to music/podcasts/audiobooks while doing a whole host of things. It can be quite calming to have those few minutes of stillness.
I don’t know if I’ll continue to meditate every day… I might do – the app reminds you each day at a time you choose – but it seems like a nice thing to do when your brain feels a bit too busy, or you’re a bit too stressed.
Do you meditate? Would you like to start?