I started meditating regularly in the fall of last year, and today I hit a pretty cool milestone–365 days in a row using the Headspace meditation app. Developing a meditation practice has been transformational for me, so I thought I’d outline my experience and the benefits I’ve seen for others who might be interested.
Before a friend recommended Headspace, I knew I wanted to try to meditation but found the process of developing a practice intimidating. I’d downloaded a few meditation tracks to my phone, but I used them infrequently and mainly when I was in crisis mode. With Headspace, the path to starting a practice was clear–the app features a 30 day ‘Basics’ program that offers a simple, straightforward approach to meditation helpfully illustrated with animations.
After 30 days, with the Basics program under my belt, I started exploring some of the other topic specific packages that Headspace offers (e.g., a 10 day program on Prioritization). I also started using one off meditation tracks available through the app designed to help you Unwind, Restore, Refresh, etc.
I used to listen to podcasts before falling asleep at night because I needed something to distract my mind. Now I use the sleep focused meditations Headspace offers in conjunction with sleep sounds available through the app. I do this nightly, and I also try to meditate in the morning when I wake up although I’m not as consistent with this as I would like to be.
In addition to using the Headspace app, I’ve read/listened to a few books this year that have been helpful in understanding the principles and benefits of meditation as well as theories on thoughts and emotions:
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris
Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace) by Chade-Meng Tan
How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett
The benefits I’ve enjoyed from meditating regularly include better sleep and improved focus throughout the day. What’s more, meditation has changed my relationship with obsessive thoughts. I’ve long suffered from these and used to feel that I was a prisoner to them and my emotions. Meditating regularly has made it easier to handle these thoughts when they arise and to process my emotions.
With the Headspace app, one question you’re asked to ponder early on is who will benefit from your practice. For me, meditation has made me a more attentive teacher, colleague, and friend. It’s made me a better spouse. And it’s made me a better person to myself.