Meditation offers an extensive list of potential benefits such as increased productivity, creativity, immunity, empathy and memory—at the same time, decreasing anxiety, tension and stress. All in exchange for a small moment (or moments) of your day, it sounds almost too good to be true, but can anyone just begin meditating and get all these glorious benefits without any professional guidance?
We began a 30-day challenge of morning meditation to find out. We did 20 minutes of mindful meditation in the morning for 30 days.
Mindful meditation is observing the thoughts, accepting them for what they are and letting them go, while using the breath to focus and calm the monkey mind—the goal: to become non-judgemental with your thoughts and to connect to the present moment.
There are many different forms of meditation to explore, with a wide range of benefits, we’re far from being experts in this field so instead here is a great article outlining benefits and explaining varieties of meditation.
A Kiwi’s beginning thoughts:
With this 30-day challenge of morning meditation, I wanted to incorporate meditation into our daily lives and see if in a short time we can see, feel and appreciate a difference—there has to be a reason why so many people sing praise to the simple act of adding a moment of stillness to your day.
I hoped to achieve:
- increased productivity
- increased creativity, and
- decreased anxiety.
A Kiwi’s afterthoughts:
The first couple of weeks I saw an increased productivity and decreased anxiety, then we got busy, we moved countries and left the security of income and our own apartment behind and began a life on the road. The main focus at the beginning of the challenge was achieved but not to the level I hoped with all the changing factors in our lifestyle. However, I saw other elements that I wasn’t expecting.
- I realised that not much changes during the 20 minutes meditation, but throughout your day I had the ability to focus on the task at hand.
- I began to acknowledge anxiety, and the possible reasons for it, accepting the environmental and hormonal factors that can play a role. I still had anxiety, up to the final day, but I felt like I had the ability to stop it from taking over.
- On day 18, my phone was stolen, and instead of getting caught up in the emotions, I observed my thoughts and focused on what I needed to resolve the issue. I realised that I had the ability to stop myself from getting caught up in the negative thoughts. I could respond instead of reacting.
- After about 20 days, when my nose was dripping I let it drip and resisted the urge to wipe or itch, resulting in the itch and irritation going away— a big stillness success.
A Gaucho’s beginning thoughts:
Day 0: I’m very excited about this challenge, I always wanted to incorporate meditation into my morning routine, to do it without thinking, but I’ve started many times and after the initial excitement I lost the focus and forgot about it. This time it felt different because this challenge made me accountable.
Day 2: At the beginning, it wasn’t hard to wake up and do the meditation—the initial excitement plays a big role. I’ll see how it develops and if I can build enough momentum to keep going after the initial excitement is gone. My biggest concern is to pass through the first 15 days.
Day 8: The focus and motivation haven’t decreased, and it’s beginning to feel like a routine, I don’t think much about it, I just wake up, drink two glasses of water and go straight to the mat. It’s helpful that Sarah does the same every morning. I’ve also starting to feel some benefits, in terms of anxiety or mental clarity. Sometimes you have too many thoughts in your head, things you have to do, situations you lived, people, tasks, etc. sometimes I can clear my mind, even during the day, by being in a moment.
Day 15: It’s going well, it really does help to meditate with your partner. Strongly recommended. When I start to lose momentum, I just watch a video about meditation, or a Ted talk or something motivating (like some of the recommended videos in the Resources section below).
Day 25: We met with a friend yesterday and told him about our meditation challenge. He was also doing meditation, in another style though. It’s good to share what we’re doing, to learn from different types of meditations, but I believe that the different styles of meditation are ‘different doors to the same house’. At the end of the day, they all seek the mindfulness and mental peace through different techniques.
A Gaucho’s final thoughts:
The last few days, in situations where I felt anxiety, I could see that I was starting to worry and I realised I had the option to choose not to feel like that. The curious thing wasn’t that I didn’t feel anxiety anymore, it was that I could feel it ‘coming’, and I could control, and it then disappeared. Amazing. I also found that by doing short periods of meditations (5 or 10 minutes) during the day I felt more calm and relaxed.
Sometimes you’re not conscious of the benefits, they become part of your day and it’s hard to realise that you are looking at the world and situations from a different perspective. Meditation is a habit you need to do with consistency to get the most of the benefits.
- 1) Meditate in the morning: doing meditation first thing will help you to be consistent, and also help to boost your confidence and clear your mind for the day ahead.
- 2) Use a meditation tracking app: Headspace, Mindfulness or Focus are good examples.
- 3) Find motivation with the people around you: share your experience with others, you never know, maybe they are wanting to check out meditation too. If you have a partner, try doing it with him or her, both can encourage each other!
- 4) Realize it’s not going to be pretty: don’t worry about if it’s right, if it’s working, or what’s going on in your mind— observe and accept. It’s not always the sessions where you see a change but how you end up dealing with the rest of your day.
- 5) Be relentless with consistency: everyone, once finding the suitable meditation practice for them, can train their mind to become more aware, but few can do it with consistency—and that’s the sweet spot.
- Enjoy the benefits!
Still not convinced by our experience that meditation is worth your precious time?
Check out this article about a Harvard study that unveils what meditation literally does to the brain. It shows that meditation can change the grey matter in our brain, so we can actually train our brain like we train our bodies in order to improve our quality of life.
A Kiwi and A Gaucho’s conclusion:
This is a habit that has become part of our daily lives and will continue to do so. It may not be the perfect solution to productivity and creativity, but it’s a focused start.
- All it takes is 10 mindful minutes by Andy Puddicombe
- The habits of Happiness by Matthieu Riccard
- How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains by Sara Lazar
- How mindfulness meditation redefines pain, happiness & satisfaction by Dr. Kasim Al-Mashat
- Guided Meditation by Kelsang Jampa
- Happiness is all in your mind by Gen Kelsang Nyema
- Reaching Your Fullest Potential Through Meditation by Jenn Fairbank
- What comes after tragedy? Forgiveness by Azim Khamisa
- Headspace app – Guided Meditations
- Mindfullness app – Appstore (also available on GooglePlay)
- Tide app – GooglePlay (also available on the AppStore)
Amazon Products: (Affiliate marketing links):
- The Power of Now Book
- Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief Book
- Safu – Meditation Cushion
- Music for Healing and Unwinding: Two Pioneers in the Emerging Field of Sound Healing
- Yoga Mat 1/2-Inch Extra Thick High Density Exercise Yoga Mat with Carrying Strap (3 Pack Combo)
- I AM Wishes Fulfilled Meditation – Audio CD