I started practicing Meditation during the last week of January.
Personally, my goal with meditation is to train my mind to become less susceptible to distractions, more mindful, have more willpower, and become less reactive and more intentional. From the podasts and articles I’ve listened to and read about meditation, all of these have been observed as positive side effects this practice.
Starting a Meditation Practice
There are many ways to start a meditation practice. I believe there are even classes nowadays, but in the Philippines, meditation hasn’t taken flight yet–it’s still very underground. I don’t know anyone of my friends or work colleagues who meditates. So I resort to digital learning.
I did a “meditation” and “sleep” search in the Apple and Google Play stores and tried them out. In the end, I chose Relax M.D. because it has many features such as Binaural Beats for meditation, sleep, relaxation, and focus, and also has background sounds that I use for when I need to sleep in a noisy environment. So I get plenty of features and unlocking the whole package costs less than Php1,000. At first, I mostly use this app as a sleeping aid.
I learned about Headspace thru the SOG Podcast because Lewis is a Headspace subscriber even before he interviewed Andy Puddicombe, the man behind the app. I tried Headspace twice before but didn’t feel like it was doing anything for me. I guess third time’s the charm, or at this point, I was simply more determined to reap the benefits of meditation.
With Headspace you start with a Foundation Series where you are required to finish a 10-minute a day guided meditation for ten days, followed by 15 minutes a day for 10 days, building up to 20 minutes a day for 10 days. After the Foundation Series, you will then be able to access the rest of the Series which has specific themes for the guided meditations. I chose Appreciation as my next meditation practice.
The first 10-day-10-minute meditations are free but you have to subscribe in order to progress and access the other features. There is an option to get a monthly, yearly, and unlimited subscription. Initially, I chose the monthly just to see whether this will be fit for me. Today my monthly subscription expires and I’m ready to sign up for the yearly subscription. Headspace syncs across many devices (iPad, Chrome Browser, Android) as long as I’m logged into my account.
My Meditation Practice
- I practice meditation early in the morning between 5:30-6:30 AM. During this time, most people in my house are still sleeping and the neighbourhood is relatively quiet. When I couldn’t practice as early, I do it after the morning breakfast and chores. But oftentimes, someone would knock on my door or ask me to do something by this time, so I try my best to keep the early morning meditation routine.
- I play the Binaural Beats from Relax M.D. app (one of this app’s special feature is to play in the background even if other apps are playing audio or video) then I go ahead and do the 15-20 minute Headspace meditation.
- There have been instances when I felt my mind needed a rest from a tiring /thinking day, so I’ll have a 10-15 minute meditation at the end of my work day at around 5-6 PM.
- There are also instances when I feel overwhelmed and I’ll do an out of schedule 10-minute meditation–kind of like an emergency session.
- As I’ve built my meditation practice, 20 minutes doesn’t feels just about right, while 10 minutes feels too short. I also look forward to my morning sessions instead of having to squeeze it into my schedule; it has already become a part of my morning routine.
One of the first things I’ve noticed was my improved ability to focus on the task at hand. Before, I would have so many distractions that took my attention elsewhere or hindered me from getting started or staying focused. Things like I’d remember that I wanted to look up something on the Internet, so I’d open a browser while I was doing another task. Things like I need to refill my water bottle first or have a coffee or make tea before I start rolling. I had all these unnecessary distractions that took my attention away from what I had to do at the moment.
From the meditation practice, I was able to identify the difference between distraction and task thru the practice of focusing on my breath, which I learned in the Foundation Series. The task was to breath; the distractions were the thoughts. The goal was not to stop the thoughts (because we cannot stop them), rather, to let them pass and be able come back to what I have to do.
This was especially useful because I had an editing deadline for a magazine issue coming out for spring. I can now sit down and write for a period of time and it was easier for me to become mindful when I get distracted. I’d notice, oh I’m getting distracted by this thought. But now I’m able to let it go, so to speak, and quiet the mind again to focus back on my task. The practice not only made me more efficient, it helped me tap into my flow faster and easier.
In terms of emotions, I would catch my feelings bubble into anger or notice someone else’s angry reaction, but I am now able to take the time to pause, to just notice before I even react. That pause. It may just be 4 seconds, changes my position from fight-or-flight into think-and-plan. Pretty darn cool. I also noticed that I’m able to let go of negative emotions faster. Although as they say, meditation is a practice, it can never be a perfected discipline. So I’m going to keep at it and hopefully be able to strengthen my equanimity and channel my inner Dalai Lama.
With what I’ve experienced, meditation is here to stay and I urge you to try it out! It doesn’t have to be Headspace or Relax M.D., you can do your own recipe for meditation. I am positive that there will be benefits unique for all.