I’ve always been skeptical of the meditation and mindfulness trend that’s been taking over the news lately. I’ve never been able to successfully meditate – not even at a yoga class – I just can’t turn my brain off. I’m more of a sweat until you’re tired kind-of-girl, but when my anxiety started reaching an all-time high, I was desperate to try anything.
For Christmas, my boss gifted each of us with Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, which is about the third metric of success, happiness (the other two being money and power). Ultimately, the message of the book questions what the point of having money and power is if you’re too miserable, exhausted and overwhelmed to enjoy the success? One of her keys to achieving this third metric is - you guessed it - meditating.
The media mogul is not the only celebrity who attributes meditating to her happiness, and as a result, success. Check out this list of athletes, comedians and talk-show gurus, who make meditating a regular part of their lives. Even the G.O.A.T himself, Tom Brady, relies on turning his mind off for a few moments.
On top of these celebrity stories, I’ve read countless articles around meditation changing people’s attitudes, helping them get a better night’s sleep, and making them an all-around happier person. So, I decided to start an experiment to try to meditate each night for a week. Here’s what happened:
Usually in yoga classes, I find my mind wandering or looking around to see if I’m doing the poses correctly – so sitting in my room alone seemed a little abnormal. After showering and packing my lunch for work the next day, I sat cross-legged on my comfy rug (which I’ve named ‘the cloud’), and prepared to meditate.
I sat up straight, closed my eyes and put my hands on my crossed legs – now what? I started concentrating on my breathing – breath in, breath out, breath in – and within 10 seconds my mind started racing. I was thinking about what to wear the next day, what I needed at the grocery store, my meeting the next day, so I gave up and went to bed.
The next night, I followed my usual nightly routine and prepared myself to focus on meditating for at least five minutes. Tonight was the night I was going to relax. Well, I tried – and that’s what counts, right? A few seconds of focusing on my breathing and my mind started wandering again. I focused my attention back to my breathing, determined on being in the moment. I stopped thinking about the weather tomorrow, or why dating sucks, or what my plans were for the weekend.
This is where the experiment turned for me. I was (slowly) learning how to control my thoughts and refocus my mind when it got off track. By the fifth night, I went into meditating not with the expectation to become a meditating addict, but knowing I could escape the world and just sit in peace – even if it was for 60 seconds.
At the end of my week, I’ve come to enjoy the few minutes at the end of each long day where I can sit by myself and reflect. With the craziness of our lives, we often don’t get the chance to sit and just breathe. One week didn’t turn me into an expert yogi who can meditate for hours (I’ll leave that for my roommate), but this experiment has taught me that anyone can relax – even if it’s for a minute each night. I plan to continue this nightly ritual and turn my 60 seconds into five minutes, then eventually to 10 minutes & more.
No one will become an expert meditator in one week, and everyone has to start somewhere - like I did with just 60 seconds. Stay consistent and remember even those few moments to yourself will help you relax.
To help get started, check out these 7 meditation apps from Bustle.
What are some other exercises you do to meditate or reflect on your day?