. . . Well, nearly every day!
I have always been a very keen meditator, and found it to be a life-changing practise. I was introduced to it via the app Insight Timer (no affiliation) and then learned more through classes at Shambhala (no affiliation!).
I am a person who tends towards anxiety. I overthink everything, and find it really hard sometimes to relate socially to other humans. I am not a person who is comfortable in her own skin, or around other people (that I am not close with anyway). So when I was told that meditation is a way to help centre yourself, I thought it may be a good habit to start. Especially since my job is all about being around other humans.
So I downloaded the app, and started with five minutes a day. And truthfully? I did not feel a difference. Not even a little bit. But I kept at it because I am competitive, and I didn't want to ruin my streak. So day after day I would sit down and do a quick guided meditation. I would follow my breath, get distracted, follow my breath, get distracted, etc. You know the drill. After about a week I decided to strike out on my own and do my own meditation. I don't like being interrupted by a strangers voice when I am attempting to not get lost in my thoughts, and attempting to not think about not getting lost in my thoughts. And then I found everything got a lot easier. I was able to focus in on what exactly was going on in my head that particular morning, instead of someone else's story of mindfulness.
And that is the point of meditating (to me anyway). It isn't to completely divest yourself of thought – although those moments are amazing, albeit rare and very short in duration – it is to teach yourself how to pay attention to what those thoughts are telling you. And then it is to not get caught up in those stories. Acknowledge the emotion that comes up, but do not assign meaning to it. Just observe how quickly it disperses once you recognise it. Be like Yoda.
Very quickly this thought process started to seep into my every day life. I found myself far less reactionary, more measured and much more thoughtful. I was able to stop and recognise when what I was having was just a knee jerk reaction to a situation. It was like being able to press pause on me, step outside and go, "Hey, what is really going on here? Am I actually upset and angry and if so, why? What am I putting so much weight on, and why am I doing this?" From this learned habit I began to be able to react with a lot more grace. Any time I was upset I was able to articulate easily what was going on and why, and subsequently nipped a lot of potential fights and unnecessary upsets in the bud.
Meditation has made me the eye of the hurricane in life. It has taught me the importance of living with much less going on mentally, and that has had a huge affect on my outer life. It is by far the hardest habit I have ever had to implement – I still struggle to get myself to sit down and be still each morning. But its affects have been far reaching and all encompassing. I truly value everything it has taught me, and I believe that everyone can benefit from some meditation each day!
So try it out. Don't get caught up in trying to do it perfectly, because absolutely nobody does. The whole point is to get lost in thought, to recognise our humanity in this moment, acknowledge this and then let go. Because really that is life. We set out do to something and we encounter obstacles. But it is how we deal with said obstacles that is where the growth happens.
Do a little every single day, and see where you end up. May the force be with you!