I used to think meditation was about spirituality and the idea of a higher power, so I found it difficult to stomach. More and more I heard my friends talking about meditation and mindfulness and how apps like Headspace and Calm have helped them immensely.
I was skeptical, but began to understand how teaching yourself to become more in-tune with how you feel could be helpful, I just didn’t understand what meditation had to do with that.
In the middle of 2019, my wife and I decided to pick up our stuff and move to a new state… right after I’d started a new job and submitted a bunch of paperwork to the US government. I could feel the pressure building up, so I decided to download Headspace and give the trial a go.
Within a couple days, I realized that the kind of meditation you learn about in mindfulness programs isn’t about spirituality or a higher power, it’s not even about altering emotions or emptying your mind in order to relax. Mindfulness teaches you how to understand why you are feeling the way you are and – more importantly – amplify your emotions. It makes you ask yourself why you are meditating every day, what your goal is, who it will help, and gives you time for yourself to reset.
Meditating to recognize how I was feeling, without solving it, felt odd at first but I realized being sensitive to the way I feel gave me more agency to take steps to ensure my days were better. When I felt anxious, I took extra care not to project my feelings or worry about the work. When I felt distracted and unfocused, I knew to turn off my notifications, put on some noise-canceling headphones, and get shit done.
Of course there are bad days where meditation is inconvenient or it is difficult to focus, but I remind myself that that isn’t indicative of the act of meditation, rather a measure of how I’m feeling on that day. Meditation is an exercise you can’t force, you just have to be consistent and get better at it.
Setting 5-15 minutes aside every day to sit with my feelings, run through some exercises, and reflect on the day ahead has had countless benefits for me. Meditation isn’t a silver bullet that will solve your problems, but getting into a routine will help you see the benefits and you should end up in a better place.