I recently decided to take up mediation again, as a way to achieve more calm in my day-to-day and enforce some self-care.
In 2012, I did a 10-day silent meditation course called Vipassana and it was life changing. I learned how to calm my mind, I became more compassionate and I appreciated my surroundings more.
I’ve since wanted to incorporate meditation into my life more, but I didn’t want it to feel like an overwhelming task I had to fit into my week. It needed to be achievable and encouraging to practice.
So, I set myself the challenge to meditate for 10 minutes every day as a way to reap the benefits of the practice again.
Here’s how I did it.
My guidelines for the meditation challenge
When I set myself a challenge, I need simple guidelines. They’re not strict rules per se, but something to keep me on track.
For me, meditating is about focusing on my breath, calming my mind (not stopping the thoughts entirely, that’s impossible) and having time to reconnect with myself.
I followed these guidelines:
Though I regularly use guided meditations, I decided to take on this challenge daily for a continuous six weeks.
My goal was to meditate for 10 minutes each day, guided or otherwise. An alarm or timer helped with setting the duration of a meditation, and apps with programs were also great.
Although many challenges would encourage you to get a buddy, meditating is really something to do alone. Personally, I preferred to create space for myself.
All you may need is a quite space to carry out your practice. But when starting out, that can feel intimidating.
If you’re new to meditation, I highly recommend the Calm app, which offers daily 10-minute meditations as well as courses, stories and music to help bring calm to your day.
There’s also Buddhify. The app is filled with guided meditations of varying lengths, from five to 30 minutes, and tailored to different scenarios.
The benefits of meditating for 10 minutes a day
Here are some of the benefits I’ve enjoyed from meditating:
- Breathing got easier. Sounds ridiculous, right? This is something we need to function and yet, I often find myself holding my breath or gritting my teeth. Taking deeper, more relaxed breaths throughout the day became normal again.
- I was able to be present. I didn’t feel as though I was running from one thing to the next, like I was being pulled in a million different directions. I could enjoy the moment more.
- I had more focus. I was able to concentrate for longer and I felt less distracted.
- I was less agitated and frustrated. If something bothered me, I didn’t react instantly and spiral into anger or stress. I felt more accepting when things didn’t go my way.
- I had something to look forward to. I began to crave my meditation time. I would enjoy the time out for me and being able to switch off and reconnect.
- Prioritising my health got easier. During the challenge, I found I was more in tune with my body and what it needed, whether it was water, sun, rest, sustenance etc.
What I learned
One of the most important things to focus on with meditation is not how you do it, but that you simply show up and do the practice.
I learned that, for me, meditation comes in many forms.
Although I enjoy guided meditations using the Calm and Bhuddify apps, my most common practice happens when I walk. I truly feel walking is a form of meditation, but it must be done without the distraction of music or a podcast. It’s a time to let your thoughts flow.
When I walk, I’m focused on each step I take. Preferably, I walk by the ocean or among the trees, connecting with nature and being present in the moment by listening to and feeling the environment around me.
I found that challenging myself to meditate for 10 minutes each day helped me and the benefits were far greater than I give it credit for.
I also learned that consistency is key. It may seem obvious but when I stopped meditating regularly, I became more irritable, less calm and felt unfocused.
But it was actually more dramatic than that.
During the challenge, there were a few days that I let my routine slip and I made excuses for why I couldn’t participate in the practice.
I noticed as I let one nurturing practice go, everything else started to fall over too.
In just one week I lost all of the benefits that came with meditating – I wasn’t sleeping well, I was cranky and exhausted, and I was genuinely struggling.
It’s remarkable how much a small, good habit can become so important to your life. So, I took a step back, tried to slow down, and put meditation back on the agenda as a priority.
Of course, it wasn’t as simple as doing one meditation and it all being right again, but bringing that small bit of daily calm back into my life helped.
TELL US: Do you meditate? What’s your style and what works for you? Share your tips in the comments section below.