Last November, No More Dirty Looks hosted a meditation challenge for two weeks, and whoever completed the challenge would be entered to win a prize. Now, I love a good giveaway, and to be honest, this was the first time I’d ever actually considered meditating – tell me I can win free stuff and I’ll do whatever you want. P.S. I didn’t win.
If you haven’t noticed, meditation is huge right now. People are starting to realize it’s not just for monks and spiritual hippies; it’s becoming mainstream and dare I say the norm. I can’t seem to get away from Huffington Post articles with titles like, ‘Why People Who Meditate Are Happier Than You.‘ Okay, WE GET IT.
But thanks to that little challenge and the motivation to try something new, I’ve realized what all of this hype is about. I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned since meditating pretty regularly for almost six months (I probably do it about 4x a week) in case you’re interested in trying it yourself:
What You Should Know About Meditation
1. Don’t worry about trying to clear your mind
This is probably the most important thing I’ve learned about meditation. Don’t obsess about trying to stop your thoughts because that’s not the goal. What’s important is how you react to your thoughts, not trying to make them go away. For example, negative thoughts might come to mind, but because you’re meditating and fully aware, you will be able to more consciously turn them into positive thoughts. If you weren’t mediating, you might dwell on the negative thought and let it linger all day.
2. It’s easier with an app
Trying to sit down for 10 minutes without moving is not easy, but I’ve found that using an app can really help keep you focused. Headspace is my absolute favorite because the guy who runs it, Andy, doesn’t talk in one of those annoying sing-songy voices you often get from yoga instructors – he sounds completely normal. Calm is another great app if you like soothing music in the background.
3. Your patience will be tested
I’m not a particularly patient person, so about 5 minutes into mediating I will start to feel restless and bored. All it really takes to get over the hump is to focus on breathing in and out, and soon enough the time will pass. It’s a good lesson for life in general.
4. You will get distracted
Don’t think that because you can’t stay focused, you can’t meditate. It’s perfectly fine for your mind to wander, you just have to notice when it’s wandered and re-focus. And repeat.
5. You can meditate anywhere
In bed, on the floor, in a chair, on a plane, while you’re walking, or in a bathroom stall at work when you’re frustrated. Although it’s good to have a designated space where you won’t be disturbed, it’s nice to know that you have the option to meditate wherever you are.
And you will never say, ‘I wish I hadn’t meditated today’ once you’re done. Meditation makes you more aware of yourself and others, and it’ll encourage you to appreciate every little simplicity in life. If nothing else, it’ll stop you from wanting to strangle people at work, and that’s always a good thing, right?
Photo: Yalin Büyükdora