#HealthyHabits2017 and we’ve just finished week Eight where the challenge was the meditate for at least ten minutes a day.
Now meditation to me has connotations of being linked to yoga ladies in tight clothes or Buddhist monks of which I am neither. However more value than ever is being placed on mental health and wellbeing in recent years that it’s actually becoming more and more popular, which is a great thing seeing as depression is also on the rise globally. Children are more often being taught these skills in school as there has been evidence to prove that meditation reduces depression symptoms, stress, hostility, anxiety and improves sleep, academic performance and social skills. These health benefits of meditation apply to all ages though, along with several other benefits which can include reducing the risk of heart disease and reducing blood pressure & improving your immune system. You can find a whole list of scientific benefits over here. Also Positive Psychology have a great article on the benefits of daily meditation.
There are over 23 meditation techniques so it’s a bit daunting to try and figure out where to begin in all honesty. But I thought it would be easiest to try with a guided meditation. After seeing the ads pop up on my Pinterest feed and having heard good things from a friend I downloaded the Headspace app, which provides an initial ten minutes a day for ten days program to get you started.
HOW DID IT GO - WERE THERE ANY PROBLEMS?
Now I’m pretty damn calm and focused, it takes a lot to shake me and I seem to thrive off stress for the most part - I only ever feel anxious interacting with people I don’t know. I do however have an issue with sitting still and doing nothing, waiting and doing nothing is my worst nightmare and while I find plenty of things relax me (listening to music, being in the state of flow while doing work) I don’t like being bored and I’m usually quite busy to the point where my days will fill up very quickly because as an adult there seems to be a never ending pile of stuff to get done. So honestly this challenge seemed like a tiny waste of time for me.
I decided to try and fit this meditation challenge in when I’m at my stillest during the day and when I need to wait for something so I could at least feel a bit productive. While they recommend doing this at the same time everyday, my everyday isn’t particularly routined so I found three spaces within the day where I could fit it in: while waiting for moisturiser to sink in, when I get in the bath for a wash or just before bed.
The app automatically started on the take ten program, and I was pretty happy to see it fulfilled my requirements for the week. A man talks you through the exercises and I think it’s a pretty good way to start exploring this world of mindfulness as it’s educational and can be a small springboard into a bigger world.
You begin by breathing, you take note of your surroundings, you pay close attention to your body, you listen for the sounds around you, then you count your breathing before he tells you to lose all focus & let the mind do what it wants, then finally bringing yourself back to your body and then back into your environment. While I haven’t completed the course with still three days to go I have realised that I do spend very little time at all thinking and focussing on how my body feels… To quote Shonda Rhimes, my body has always just been ‘a container for my brain’ however the more I focus on health the more important I realise it is to live within your whole body, and mighty important to look after it. I think meditation will be a good thing toward considering my body more, reminding me to look after myself more physically. Also during the mind wandering moments I realised how very little I have floating through my mind most of the time unless I’m prompted to think about things which I think is a good thing, I think I’ll learn more about this when I have a rare busy brain day.
I’ll have to finish my take ten course and see what the other courses are like, I think the benefits only really reveal themselves after a few weeks. Ten minutes isn’t that much time but I’m also not going to berate myself if I miss a day.
Next challenge: Start a happiness diary - simply note how you felt each day and why. It’s a great way to keep track of how you’re feeling in general and if you’re not happy for more than three days in a row it’s time to do something about it. See you next Monday!