Originally published on Unwritten, modified for my blog!
I used to work a job that often required me to work around 60 hours a week. The days were long and my body carried a lot of tension. One day, I had this strong sense that I should turn to something like meditation to help me better understand the stress that I was putting my body under. Upon scouring the internet, I landed on Headspace, which offers a free 10 minutes for 10 day jumpstart program. I figured I could spare 10 minutes each day and I am so glad I did!
Now that I’m a medical student, nothing has changed. Meditation is still something that helps find balance in my life and relieve the enormous stress that I carry with me each day. Look out for a future blog post about the benefits of meditation!
Here is what happened when I meditated for 10 days straight.
The app instructed me to watch a cute little video about how the app works and why it was designed. I settled into a comfortable seated position and began to let the app guide me into my meditative practice. There were definitely times where my mind was wandering and I felt like I wasn’t meditating correctly. However, at just around the time my mind would begin to wander, the app would gently guide me back into focus. It reassured me that it was okay for my mind to wander, I just had to work on being aware of that and bring myself back into focus.
I left my meditation until SUPER late at night and I was exhausted. Instead of staying in a seated position, I completed the guided practice lying in bed. I’m fairly certain that in the middle stretch where there is little guidance from the app, I began to doze off. Overall I felt really calm during the practice, but reflecting on it the next morning I don’t think I was connecting with my body or my mind all that well.
I didn’t want to make the same mistake as the previous night, so I made sure that I was sitting upright and that I was really focused on getting in tune with myself. While my mind still wandered, I noticed that the frequency was a lot less and that I was able to bring my focus back a lot quicker.
This was easily the best day of my practice thus far. I was able to stay focused on my body and breathing for the majority of the meditation. One thing I love about this series of 10 minute sessions is that the end is reserved for you to let your mind do as it please, and I took full advantage of the time to just mull over some of the things I am excited for and nervous about in the coming two months.
After day 4 I had to take a two night break as I had a friend from out-of-town stay with me and it was hard to meditate with someone else over. I was super eager to get back to my meditative practice for day 5 because I noticed that I didn’t feel as calm or as in tune with myself as I had been during the days in which I meditated before bed.
I went for a massage in the afternoon and I was waiting on the massage table I thought I would take a crack at meditating without the app. I did a super quick body scan and found places of tension, which was marvelous as I could let the masseuse actively work on those areas and it was awesome! I was super excited to meditate before bed to see if the tension was still there later that night, and it was. It feels really good to be able to locate exactly where I carry my tension so that I am more aware of it throughout my day.
I’m starting to get so much better at keeping track of my breathing. It feels really great to think that you could dramatically improve upon something in your life in just 7 days of intentional practice.
This was one of my worst days. I was really overwhelmed from work, the stresses that my friends are going through, and wondering what is going to happen at my medical school interview. The entire time I was really struggling to keep track of my breath and my mind was wandering immensely. BUT one thing that is different from the first few days of this journey is that I can find my mind wandering a lot more quickly than when I started. It feels good to be able to notice that improvement in myself.
After the extremely poor practice the day before, I tried to make peace with my stresses before starting my practice. Being extremely aware of how likely it was that my mind would wander did wonders for my practice. I was able to really focus on my breathing and body scanning and left the mind wandering for the very end when the app tells you to.
Last day of the introductory course. I’m still really sad that it has come to an end. Knowing that it was my last day, I made sure to really focus on my breathing and my body. I’m really happy that I was able to stick with something for 10 days and I can’t imagine not having this moment with myself each night.
I know that at first blush, meditation seems like something the average person can’t integrate into their day. After 10 days of only 10 minutes, I can safely say that this is not something that I will be able to erase out of my nightly routine easily. I still haven’t decided if I will purchase the subscription which gives me access to a TON more guided meditations, including ones designed for commuting and exercising, but I do know that I will continue to use the basic principles I learned over the first 10 days. I feel happier, lighter, and much more in tune with myself. Now, deep breath in, deep breath out.
Feature image via hollybentley_yoga