Maybe you’ve heard about the benefits of meditation and so you’d like to give it a try. Or maybe you have tried almost all the ways to calm your thoughts and relieve stress but none of these worked, and so you’re considering meditation.
No matter why you want to start meditating, this article is for you who want to try out meditation in the simplest way.
Meditation can reduce stress, control anxiety, promote emotional health, enhance focus and improve sleep.
In my other article about stretches for sleep, I shared about my difficulty of falling asleep. I used to toss and turned around on bed for hours but still couldn’t fall asleep. I also couldn’t sleep through the night well and woke up feeling tired the next morning. And so besides doing those bedtime stretches, I started to meditate.
Of course I didn’t know how to start meditation at the beginning. I researched and read about what meditation is and how to do it.
I’ve learned that there’s nothing to be scared about starting meditation. It doesn’t matter when or where you do it. It doesn’t really matter how long you do it either. As long as you’re doing it, you’ll gradually change your life in a way you never imagined.
There’re various types of meditation including body scan or progressive relaxation, mindfulness meditation, breath awareness meditation, Kundalini yoga and more.
I find breathing meditation the easiest for beginners to kickstart because it requires no special techniques or external guides to begin with. All you need is a quiet corner to relax yourself and start breathing.
Here’s how to do it:
You may close your eyes or keep them open, depending on your preference… Breathe in deeply through your nose for at least three seconds and hold it in for a further two seconds. Next, exhale for at least four seconds through the mouth. You can repeat this exercise a couple of times if you’d like. Next, gradually transition into natural breathing. If your nasal passages are clear, you should breathe through your nose. The mouth should be closed or slightly open. During meditation you should let your body, breath and mind be as they are while maintaining awareness.MindWorks
So with this simple breathing technique in mind, I started my 30-Day Meditation Challenge. I started meditating for 3 to 4 minutes a day and added up the time to 5 minutes when I found it more comfortable to stay silent and breathe.
My 30-Day Meditation Challenge
Since it’s the first day of my meditation challenge, I wanted to make it less heavy. I took my phone out and set my timer to 3 minutes.
I did this after having lunch and before I got back to work.
So I sat on the sofa comfortably, closed my eyes, and started breathing. I tried my best to focus on my breathing. What I did was to start counting 1-2-3-4 while taking deep breath.
During the meditation session, a few thoughts flashed at the back of my mind but I tried to refocus by counting again. And then my timer rang.
Surprisingly, those 3 minutes passed quicker than I thought. And I thought, I could increase the time to 4 minutes the next day!
I meditated at home after lunch, and I set the timer to 4 minutes this time.
I tried to count 1-2-3-4 and breathed deeply. However, I got distracted by some external noise easily because I was worried that someone was going to ring my door bell and I had to answer the door which might interrupt the meditation session.
Obviously I chose the wrong time to do meditation as a family member was going back home around that time and I was sort of expecting her to come.
I’d say, the second day of my meditation wasn’t going so well.
On the third day, I did meditation before going to sleep because I didn’t have time to be silent alone during the day.
And since I got distracted during the session yesterday, I wanted to try a different way. I put on “meditation music” which I found on Spotify. I was hoping that the music would help me focus better.
Unfortunately, the music didn’t make me calmer. I didn’t get more relaxed either. I actually found the music a little not so calming for me.
After this quick experiment with meditation music, I’ve discovered that listening to meditation music may not work for me.
On the forth day, I did meditation after work.
Instead of counting numbers, I tried to focus on my breathing only — breathing in and out.
I felt like the 4 minutes were passing slowly and I still sometimes got distracted by the little noise around.
A few thoughts came into my mind, for example how to write about this meditation challenge journal entry today — which was silly.
It seemed that only focusing on my breathing didn’t work as well as counting numbers. But today, I felt more calm and peaceful in silence (compared to when I listened to meditation music).
I changed my routine a bit and did meditation in the morning before I started to work.
I counted 1-2-3-4 again while breathing deeply. But without even realizing it, a thought arise — about my hair appointment tomorrow. And then suddenly I remembered that I had to focus on my breathing and so I started counting again.
It was a bit frustrating for me because I felt like I was suppressing my thoughts and that did not help me to relax and calm…
But I don’t want to give up, so I’ve looked for some help:
Be kind to your wandering mind. Now as you do this, you might notice that your mind may start to wander. You may start thinking about other things. If this happens, it is not a problem. It’s very natural. Just notice that your mind has wandered. You can say “thinking” or “wandering” in your head softly. And then gently redirect your attention right back to the breathing.mindful
I’ve realized that it’s really normal that my mind wanders. This has encouraged me to carry on.
I did meditation at night. I took the advice to be kind to my wandering mind during my meditation and I really felt less stressful. Whenever random thoughts arose, I tried to shift my focus back to my breathing and breathed deeply.
And the 4 minutes seemed to pass pretty quickly to me.
I did meditation at night. I could take deep breaths without counting.
Most of the time I could focus on my breathing, which was nice! It was just towards the end of the session, my mind wandered without I even realized it but then, time was up for the session already.
So it’s come to the eighth day of my challenge. When I was doing meditation, my mind still wandered sometimes but I always tried to shift my focus back to breathing.
I’ve also researched for a few more ways to help me focus better during meditation. Here’re some handy rules:
1. Hong saw breathing technique
2. Do meditation in the morning
3. Doesn’t matter how your posture is
4. Mind WILL wander and embrace thatBest Life
I took the advice of the 4 meditation rules and did meditation in the morning — right before work.
Random thoughts still arose as I was meditating but, I embraced them and tried to focus on my breathing.
And the good thing about meditating before working? I seem to be able to focus better and work productively today!
I did meditation right after waking up in the morning.
This time I had the least thoughts arising during the session. I could focus on my breathing almost throughout the session — and could breathe calmly.
I did meditation in the morning before work. I could mostly focus on my breathing and I was very concentrated throughout the day at work!
I did meditation in the morning. But maybe I was too sleepy, I kept yawning during the session. I even wanted to go to sleep after the session.
But the good news is, I’ve started to feel more relaxed when meditating.
Day 13 & 14
I felt at ease when I was doing meditation. I think I’m ready to meditate for a little longer.
So today, I extended the session to a minute longer. That additional 1 minute did feel like a little more time, it didn’t stress me though.
It’s been 15 days already but I am not sure whether meditation has benefited me. Yet, I reassure myself: “Great things take time,” and so I’ll carry on with the meditation challenge to see how things will go.
My meditation session didn’t go well. My mind wandered a lot and my mood was bad because something happened yesterday upset me.
For a moment, I wanted to just give up this meditation challenge because it doesn’t help calm my thoughts even after I’ve tried for so many days already…
Despite what happened yesterday, I continued the challenge.
So it’s come to the 17th day of my challenge. My mind wandered still during the session, but I didn’t let this stress me out.
I wonder if meditation is something for me or not because my mood and state of mind is still quite unstable. I am not calm all the time.
So just now, I’ve shared my thoughts and frustration with my boyfriend. He encouraged me not to give up, “It’s not even a month yet, just carry on! And after all, a lot of evidence has proved meditation to work to a certain extent!”
I’m so thankful for my supportive boyfriend.
With my boyfriend’s support, I’ve carried on with my meditation challenge. I meditated in the morning, focused on my breathing and embrace my wandering mind.
I was quite calm.
Day 19 – Day 26
Meditating in the morning has become my daily habit. I breathe deeply, and can shift my focus back to my breathing whenever my mind wanders. Each meditation session is calming.
My morning meditation wasn’t going so smooth. My mind wandered and some of the thoughts were silly, for example a scene from a TV show just suddenly popped up in my mind.
And this is how I realize my subconscious mind is cluttered with lots of random and not-so-meaningful thoughts.
I would really love to make good use of this 5-minute session to calm my mind. So with my realization yesterday, I told myself:
“I only have this 5 min every day dedicated to meditation, so I should try my best to focus in the moment.”
And this self-affirmation really helped. I was very focused throughout the session.
My meditation session went pretty well. A few thoughts pondered over but I could shift my focus back to my breathing.
And it’s come to my last day of meditation challenge. Like most of the days, my mind still wandered but, I reminded myself to focus on my breathing — breathe in, breathe out… and the session went good.
After these 30 days of meditation challenge, I can’t say I’ve experienced a dramatic change in my mental health. However, I do experience a calmer mental state more often. And the good thing is that every time after meditating in the morning, I can concentrate better and work productively during the day. Therefore, the end of my meditation challenge doesn’t mark the end of my meditation sessions — I will go on meditating.
If you’re wondering whether you should start meditating, I strongly recommend you to just do it.
Don’t expect that your mind won’t wander when you meditate, just embrace your wandering mind and breathe. You will be more aware of your own thoughts and feelings. You’ll experience a peaceful state of mind.
Even if at the end, you have decided that meditation isn’t something for you, you’ve at least tried, instead of wondering if it’ll work for you!
Featured image credit: Natalia Figueredo via Unsplash