Meditation is something I’ve been intrigued by for a long time but have never fully committed to the practice. According to the headspace app that I have on my phone, I started my journey 21 months ago. Well, that “journey” included a grand total of 4 days meditating. So, hardly a committed effort.
When Tom and I embarked on our year-long travel journey, his mom gifted him the book, The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere. Clearly an ironic title for someone heading on a one-year travel journey but as we all know, Moms are very wise. The book had a message and it was loud and clear. You cannot find happiness by searching everywhere in the world, happiness comes from within. The book talked a lot about meditation and finding joy in every day, no matter your circumstances.
After reading the book, Tom and I talked about meditation quite a bit and we tried it a few times but it didn’t really stick. We were intrigued by the idea but didn’t fully buy in. It wasn’t until recently when we both read the book 10% Happier by Dan Harris that it finally clicked. I think reading a book from a skeptics point of view really helped since we both have scientific brains and are definitely skeptical of anything alternative. We need proof. But the fact is, meditation has scientific proof behind it. It’s shown to decrease blood pressure, increase focus and productivity, improve your relationships and so much more.
Armed with the knowledge that meditation has proven scientific benefits, we decided to give it another go and see what happened. We started with 5 minutes a day and have now worked up to 15 minutes. We have consistently meditated for the last 30 days. In just one month, I have definitely begun to see benefits, some which I never expected.
I’ve learned to respond…not react
Don’t you hate that feeling when something angers you and you lash out and then immediately feel guilty afterwards? Meditation helps you with that. You learn to slow down your reactions and pause for just that brief moment, enough time to decide if you want to make that reaction or not. To choose how to respond.
Now does this work every time? Heck no! I still am not in full control of my emotions and I don’t know anyone ever can be but even if you hold yourself back 1 out of every 10 times, that’s progress and that’s worth it enough for me.
I am aware of my feelings and thoughts
Meditation has taught me how often I am on autopilot. Our minds are constantly thinking and yet how often do you really notice what it’s saying? Meditating makes me much more aware of my internal dialogue. You learn a lot about yourself when you stop and listen. You don’t even have to take any action, just listen and be aware.
Just breathing can make a difference
Meditation teaches you to focus on your breath. After you’ve begun to learn this skill during meditation you can transfer it to your everyday life. Moments when I feel upset or grumpy or angry, I can stop and take a breath. Focusing on my breath takes the attention away from the emotion that I’m feeling and allows me to process it. Instead of getting stuck in a cycle of grumpies, I can breathe, refocus and move on from a situation a lot easier.
Stay present in the moment
So often we live in the past or in the future instead of the present. I’ve noticed this a lot with travel. When you’re constantly making plans for the future, it can be difficult to stay focused on the present moment. Meditating reminds me to stay there and appreciate what’s currently happening around me.
So do I think meditation is for everyone? Absolutely! I have been blown away by the benefits I’ve seen in only 30 days. It’s a practice that I don’t see myself quitting anytime soon, if anything I plan to expand it further.