If you’ve been following my Instagram Stories lately you’ve probably seen that I started meditating. I’m only like the zillionth person to start practicing meditation and I fully admit that I’m a late adopter. For some reason I’m often skeptical or wary of things that seem trendy or because everyone else is doing it (which is really ironic since I have a blog). I only just listened to my first podcast last year (didn’t make it through the whole episode), I still haven’t seen Game of Thrones, and I didn’t go to my first college football game until my senior year. If you didn’t believe me maybe you do now. Anyway, although I’m super late to the game and maybe only a handful of you will find this useful I wanted to share how my first 7 days of meditation went.
What I Use to Meditate + Why I Chose It
I did a lot of research prior to choosing a meditation app because if there’s one thing I do well, it’s obsessively researching a topic on the Internet. My friend, Catherine, writes a great blog about mindfulness and it was this post that really sold me on Calm. The app couldn’t be more simple to use and I love the interface. It immediately opens up to a soothing background with nature sounds. There are bedtime stories, music tracks for different purposes like sleep and focus, and of course guided meditations. A lot of people have asked me if you have to pay to use Calm and the answer is no! I’m still using the free version and I would actually recommend you start off with the free version because there is plenty to dig into without paying for it.
As a meditation noob (do people still say that?) I’m not qualified to tell you this is the best app out there, but I think it’s safe to say this is a great option for anyone who is just getting started. If you’re a stat nerd like me, you’ll also appreciate that the app tracks your meditation streak by days, minutes, and sessions. While the stats are so not the point, I have to admit I really like this feature and it has really encouraged me to keep going.
Why I Started Meditating
I’ve always been a worrier. I tend to get stressed easily and feel anxious about things that are often out of my control. Over the years I think I’ve been better at how I cope with these feelings but I’m still not great at it because I’ve never done anything as intentional as meditating as a means to calm my mind. This year I decided to prioritize wellness and I’ve slowly incorporated things like chiropractic adjustments and bi-monthly massages into my life. The physical effects of stress were really taking a toll on my body so that was my first priority. The next was finding something to help with my mental wellness. Many people in my life have encouraged me to practice meditation but I’ve always been skeptical, like I said. It has taken well over a year for me to finally come around to giving it a go.
The results are in: I already love meditating after just 7 days of it.
How I Was Able to Meditate for 7 Days In a Row
On the Calm app I started with the 7 Days of Calm track which is available on the free version. It starts off with a 3 minute session then gradually increases to 5 minutes, and ends on an 11 minute session. The purpose of this is to learn the basics of mindfulness meditation and get you into the habit of practicing meditation. Since this is a guided meditation, it’s much easier to stay on track and keep your mind from wandering too much. The gradual length is also incredibly helpful for those of us that have trouble keeping still too.
By meditating around the same time each day I found it easier to hold myself accountable with the practice. I chose to meditate every morning before work because it’s when I’m most rested. Just like taking my vitamins, if I wait until after the work day to do certain things I know I’ll often forget or be too tired to remember. There is no right time to meditate but I have read that meditating in the morning can be really valuable as it helps prepare your mind and body for the day. For many people who have an active mind at night, meditation before going to sleep might make more sense. (Not for me because your girl would straight up fall asleep during meditation at night.)
How Meditation Made Me Feel
I’ll be honest, after the first two sessions I was unsure of any noticeable difference in my body and mind. However by the third day I was already noticing changes. After meditating I felt more energized and positive during my commute to work, even if I was about to head into a bunch of meetings. One morning I had a meeting with a particularly challenging call scheduled and during it, I closed my eyes a few times and remembered the breathing exercises from the morning’s session. I’m being 100% honest here – that kept me calm and collected the entire time.
So far, meditating has helped me gain more control of my thoughts when they start to creep into the past or the future. Bringing myself back to the present and being conscious of my breathing has even helped control my physiological reactions to stress. Most noticeable, my heart rate which tends to shoot up as soon as I start feeling frustrated or worried.
I’m really pleased with meditation so far and I’m really excited to continue practicing. My goal is to meditate before work at least but I’ll give myself some grace and not beat myself up if I don’t do it everyday. For now I’m going to try to continue using just the free version of Calm because I think that’s sufficient but if I do upgrade, I’ll be sure to share that with you guys.
So far I’ve had some great conversations with you guys who have either also just started or have been practicing for years. If you’re new to meditation, will you do me a favor and tell me how it is going for you? I would love to encourage each other to continue the practice :)