Live & Learn

A Week of Meditation

Lately, I’ve been agitated. On edge. Easily frustrated. A huge part of that is I haven’t been running or walking as much. Another part is that I’m loading my plate a bit more and setting higher goals, increasing my writing productivity. My husband (Mr. Skeptic) told me meditation can help. Mind you, he doesn’t meditate. For him to tell me this means I am stressing him out. Yikes!

A few years ago…more like a decade ago, I tried meditation. For all of one day. I felt like a fruitcake sitting on the floor with my legs in a pretzel and “ohmming.” Not to mention I couldn’t get the thought of how corny I felt out of my mind. Kind of defeated the whole calm, mindfulness thing I aimed to acquire.

Now I don’t want my husband stressed just because of me. So I figured I’d give meditation another whirl. I also, decided I wouldn’t go off what I had seen in the past, I’d find something recent and I would use an app to guide me. And, I promised to give it a full week. Here’s how it went:

Day One:

The app I downloaded (Headspace) informed me that I didn’t have to contort my legs into a pretzel. I could sit in a chair and it gave me some pointers on how to sit. Sweet! Even better, I don’t have to chant or “ohm.”

The app didn’t say anything about lighting conditions, but I feel calmer when the light isn’t so bright. So I turned down the light and sat in a chair.

The app guided me to inhale and, on exhale, slowly close my eyes. Apparently, I don’t know how to slowly close my eyes, but that’s okay. The guy’s voice is calm and soothing and not too obtrusive. The lesson taught me to hear the sounds around me: a child in the shower, my cat sneezing, and the unusually loud hum of the refrigerator. Then he told me to focus on feeling my breath go through my body.If I couldn’t feel my breath, I could place my hand on my stomach. I didn’t need to feel my stomach with my hand to notice this. Does this mean I may be slightly in-tuned with my body?

Just as my brain began to wander the guy piped up with “your brain might wander, let it go.” And I let my mind go for a few seconds and then brought attention back to breathing.

Then the session was over. The day’s mediation done. It took 3 minutes and I craved more but figured I could wait.

The result of my day: It was okay. I went to work and traffic was lighter than I’ve seen it, in over ten years. Pretty sure meditation had nothing to do with that, but it was awesome! When I got home, I had to take my cat to the vet because he wasn’t feeling well. That would usually worry me, but I didn’t feel overly worried or stressed. At this point, I am hesitant to say it was the meditation that helped.

Day Two:

I turned down the lights, opened the app and went through the second session. It was the same as the first. “Second verse, same as the first.” – Bonus points if you know what song that’s from.

The result of my day: It was definitely a good day to test this meditation stuff.  I had a dental appointment this day and I’m not the best dental patient. I’m kind of wreck at the dentist, but I got through and stopped shaking a little sooner than in previous visits, so that’s good.

Still had some anxiety, but it wasn’t sharp and intense, more like a dullness in the background. Maybe meditation played a part in the day.

Day Three:

I had an epiphany. This happened before the day’s meditation, but it was while I read my Bible. Last year I completed reading my Study Bible (over 2,000 pages).

This year I began with the King James Version and have been following a Bible Study program on my phone. It’s basically the Bible in a year and then it gives a little lesson for the day taken from one of the readings.

Well, today, I read and got to a section where it was abundantly clear what the meaning and take away was, at least for me. I understood something without being guided. This is kind of big because I can be pretty hard-headed.

Whether the epiphany is due to being more receptive, I don’t know. I’m still not willing to admit meditation is doing all.

After the Bible study, I opened the app and followed the guided meditation for the day. Again, it was three minutes. And I had an overwhelming craving to go longer. Plus the app had a great intro analogy using traffic for our thoughts. How our thoughts run when we try to meditate and we should just let them drive on by, not run out in the road and try to stop them. Super cute.

The result of my day: Calm. Nothing overly stressful, but then I really didn’t have anything stressful going on either.

Day Four:

The App led me through the meditation. But again, I really wanted more. These three-minute segments just seem short. I want to see if my brain can make it five minutes or even ten minutes. However, I am a beginner and I should just take it step-by-step.

The result of my day: Another good calm day. No stress, no underlying edge to my mishaps. Possibly, the meditation is doing a little something.

Day Five

Superbowl Sunday. Since we weren’t hosting an event or going anywhere I had nothing to worry about.

I got up early again, did the same routine, Bible Study and Meditation, and again felt the itch for something more, something longer.

The result of my day: I had nothing going on so it’s hard for me to admit the meditation may be helping. Again, another normal day.

I like HeadSpace, but my budget is shot until we save up enough for a roof replacement on our home. So shelling out over $300 (a year)for a meditation app is not in my budget, and honestly, I don’t know if it’s worth it. Yes, if meditating alleviates stress then I’m saving that much in medical costs, but it seems excessive to me.

Day Six:

I had a hard time getting into a calm state today. I wasn’t agitated or anything. Not mad, just felt a tension. Like it was knotted and wouldn’t unfurl.

The result of my day: It was okay. It was not an uncontrolled stress, but I still had that tension all day.

Day Seven:

I did my three-minute meditation and sat there longer when it was done. That felt good. But really want something more.

The result of my day: I do think meditation has helped take the edge off my stress. It’s still there, but the snappy anxiety is less.

Seven Day Round-up:

Focus: I think there is something there, but I am not sure what variable worked. I’ve been kind of cracking down on myself lately so I can’t say for certain that it’s the meditation making a difference, but I will say, there seems to be less edge to my frustration points.

Health: I really don’t feel a difference in my body. So who knows.

UPDATE:

It’s been a few weeks and I missed three days of meditating. By the second day, I was cranky. So I will cede there is something to the whole meditation thing.

Headspace is a great meditation app, but the cost is more than what I’m willing to pay. If you have the funds, the man’s voice is soothing and the guided meditations are spot on. The cartoons are so freaking cute (but not in the overly, sickening cute way)  and the tips are definitely informative.

I downloaded another meditation app called Insight Timer. This has been working. I get to choose a length of time I want to meditate. Most of the meditations are done well. I think it’s jarring when you get used to one person and then switch. But I’ve been doing well with this app.

If you meditate with an app, I would love to hear what you use and how you feel about it. You can comment or drop me a line on my contact page.