What I learned from my first 1,000 minutes of meditation
‘’I’m realising that my attention has always been scattered and it has less to do with the messages around me and more to do with the messages I’m creating in my own mind’’ — Matt D’Avella
We are living through a very stressful period.
With so much information racing through our phones and into our minds, mental health charities across the globe have reported vast increases in feelings of anxiety, loneliness and a fear of missing out.
For me, this was having a huge impact on my day to day life. Friendships, family, jobs and passions were coming second to an overwhelming sense that I wasn’t good enough.
After dismissing meditation for years I finally decided to give it a try. Little did I know it would be the key to helping me change my life for the better.
Meditation is the very simple act of taking time to be still, observe your thoughts and focus on your breath.
It will be hard at first because we are so used to following a train of thought as soon as it appears. Every time you are annoyed by a message, feeling anxious about a plane journey or feeling sad about the past, your mind is in a free-for-all battle for your attention and time.
The issue is that we are constantly at the mercy of our own thoughts. If we can learn to control our thoughts, we can then learn to control our actions and have a routine and a life which is intentional rather than reactive.
Very simply, meditation has helped me to develop and improve my:
- Emotional Intelligence
- Attention Span
Thanks to meditation, I’ve been consistently able to build healthier habits.
It’s not about blocking thoughts or ignoring them. It’s simply realising they exist, acknowledging their existence and then coming back to the breath. Because of this I’m able to:
- Focus on tasks like housework and writing for longer periods of time without being distracted.
- Read more and for longer periods of time without my mind wandering.
- I was able to complete my first 5k run this week. Every time I felt like I needed to stop I simply asked myself: ‘Am I thinking, or am I feeling?’. And realised the only thing actually stopping me was my own mind. Every time I felt like stopping, I noticed the thought was there, took my mind back to my breath and carried on.
- The discipline of sitting down each day for 10 minutes to meditate has itself improved my overall discipline in other areas like keeping my room and personal space clean.
Overall it’s made me more productive. I used to spend so much time thinking about what I should be doing that I often didn’t do anything at all. I’ve now developed the patience to enjoy what I’m doing at the time and realise that once it is done I can move on to the next thing.
It has almost completely removed many negative feelings from my mind.
This is a strong claim, but it’s true. Before using meditation I was suffering from bouts of anxiety on a regular basis as well as crippling feelings of self doubt.
Meditating for 15 minutes every day has helped me to realise that I am not my emotions.
It’s given me a sense of perception so that I can see myself as separate from all of my thoughts including the negative ones. Rather than feeling angry, stressed or anxious I’ve been able to observe and understand the roots of the emotion without having to feel it. This is a practice known as ‘self-distancing’.
Now when I notice negative thoughts, I acknowledge their existence, focus on my breath and carry on.
The science behind meditation is mind blowing.
Meditating for as little as 10 minutes a day can:
- Accelerate cognitive functioning
- Improve your immune system
- Slowdown neurodegenerative diseases
- Lower high blood pressure
- Highten your pain threshold
- Enhance your visuospatial memory
- Combat cravings and addiction
The bigger picture.
Overall, meditating for 15 minutes a day has helped me begin to shape my life into one that is intentional.
Rather than being at the mercy of emotions, the opinion of others or the perceived scarcity of time, I am beginning to live as I mean to do so. This means making time to do the things I love, appreciating the people that care for me and having the discipline to do the things I don’t enjoy but need to get done.
Meditation has helped me to flatten the ‘peaks and troughs’ of inconsistency that used to slow my life down and has made me feel as though I‘m now more in control.