Recently I was forced to consider the state of my emotional and mental well-being. It was the second time in a week where I was sitting in my car in a parking lot, unable to work, focus, or even to get out of the vehicle. I was having a mental and emotional breakdown and I wasn't sure what to do. I recalled an NPR podcast my friend had shared on the brain and so I decided to look it up. What I found instead was an NPR Ted Radio Hour podcast entitled Headspace that encouraged me to consider taking care of my mind regularly. Almost immediately after listening, I was scrolling through my newsfeed and found an app also entitled "Headspace" offering a 10 day guided meditation session. I thought that it was by no odd chance that this had appeared so I decided to give it a try.
Now, I have tried in the past to maintain a routine mediation schedule. However, more often than not I have used mediation as a clutch when I was upset and it has served more like a pill when I'm sick, instead of an exercise to keep me from getting sick. The challenge was simple, 10 minutes for 10 days dedicated to mediation. I set up a schedule to listen to the guided meditation right before getting up from bed, and it has helped me in more ways than I expected. Here are some of the things I learned about myself during these 10 days.
I had some wounds that needed healing
The first few days of mediation were great. I was able to take my concentration from all the work I had to get done for both school and my job. As the mediation went on, however, I began to notice the realities of being alone with my thoughts. I had to confront feelings and pains that I had swallowed up and forgotten in my busy life. Emotional wounds that I had never considered reemerged and demanded me to recognize that in ways both big and small, these pains were having an impact on my day to day life and I hadn't noticed it. I have not reached a place where I know what the solution to these wounds are but I do know they exist and understanding them is the first step to healing.
I do not often do what I want to do
The second thing I learned during my ten day challenge is that I often allow emotions of the moment to cloud my vision and I do not do what I want to do. There were a few mornings where I would take two moments to consider how I really didn't feel like meditating. I knew deep down that I wanted to honor the challenge and that doing so would be the stepping stones to strengthening my mental well-being but I would give myself varying excuses from "I should really shower first" to "I am already running late". I always did go through with meditating but I learned that these moments of doubt were apparent in other parts of my life. Sometimes I stop myself from trying something new because I'm afraid I will fail. With the 10 day challenge I learned that there is no way of knowing whether I would fail, whether that particular mediation session would be successful or whether I would have any mind altering experiences. However, if I do not commit to doing it anyway, I will never know. Because of this I started a trend, instead of taking two seconds to think about whether I should start something, use that energy to actually start.
I don't need anything to find peace
Through meditation I realized that I do not need the things I thought I needed to be at peace. Sometimes we get into the habit of thinking that we need to have all our bills paid, our relationships need to be secure, or we need to lose a few pounds before we can feel perfectly at peace. This is not the case. I noticed that the peace was already inside of me and I didn't need any external forces to create it.
Every moment in life counts
I am not sure whether it is because I am a writer, an introspective person, or whether this is just something that rings true for all of humanity but I learned that taking a few moments a day to write, meditate, or even sit and drink coffee without the distraction of a newsfeed is important. I have known this before but it was good to have a reminder. Every moment counts and at glance, 10 minutes each day do not seem like much but it has had an impact on me and I can see the changes in my mood and even the way I think. Probably the most important thing I learned during this 10-day session was to not underestimate the power of a minute dedicated towards something good, especially when you can change how you think in only 10.