Have you ever wanted to try a straight 30 days meditation regime? I remember the first time I ever tried to meditate. It was with my mom when I was a kid. She told me to try and “empty my mind” and focus on nothing. That made absolutely no sense to me. I’m the kind of person whose head is 10 steps ahead of their feet. I have ideas and thoughts galore popping into my mind at all times of day. Always being told to slow down. I honestly thought I could never grasp meditation let alone 30 days meditation.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a “mind and body practice that has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation.” It is said to improve psychological balance, a person’s ability with coping with illness and enhancing overall health and well-being. (NCCIH)
The beginning of my meditation practice.
Fast forward to the end of 2017, when I first got sober and when I went to my first group meditation at Against the Stream. It was after reading Dharma Punx for the first time. Something resonated with me and I really wanted to experience what Noah experienced. I remember not being able to sit still, keep my mind at ease, or be present — but I do remember something changing within me where I felt a calmness I had never felt before. That was enough to keep me interested. As I continued to meditate I would find floods of emotions release and an inner peace open up with every practice. I remember going to a New Year’s Eve intention setting and just crying. I slowly started to enjoy the calmness the practice brought into my life but didn’t add it as a daily practice until recently.
What does meditation do to the brain?
After finding the practice of meditation beneficial in learning to be in the present and set aside distractions, I started asking ‘How does this work? What is it actually doing to my brain?’ So I started researching and found that according to our brain scans, “scientists can see that the brains stop processing information as actively as they normally would.” (Lifehacker) We start to show a decrease in beta waves (Free Meditation).
- Frontal lobe (Part of the brain responsible for reasoning, planning, emotions and self-conscious awareness). During meditation it goes offline.
- Parietal lobe (processes sensory info, orienting you in time and space). During meditation, activity slows down.
- Thalamus (The gatekeeper for the senses). Meditation reduces the flow to a trickle.
- Reticular formation (Receives incoming stimuli and puts the brain on alert). Meditating dials back the arousal signal. (Free Meditation)
This information really convinced me to want to try the 30 days meditation and see if I could feel any effects.
How did I start meditating regularly?
In March I started using the Insight Timer app more often — partially because of Covid-19 but mostly because I wanted to add it into my daily practice to keep centered and have a sense of calmness during the pandemic. So I made a pact with myself: to do it for 30 days and reflect.
I did it for 18 days in a row and then forgot. Probably because I’m a perfectionist… I hit reset and recounted my days, because I wanted to do it consecutively and have and honest 30 days meditation reflection.
I just finished day 34 this morning and wow! Here’s what I can tell you from my experience:
What Did a 30 Days Meditation Practice do?
- Stress. It helped me deal with stress in a meaningful way. I somehow was able to stay in solution when a problem arose. I wasn’t quick to panic but able to process my emotions about what was happening and focus on what I could do to get out of it. It also took away the stress of doing what OTHERS wanted me to do. I was more confident and secure in my thoughts and beliefs and what felt good and aligned with me.
- Vaping. I also quit vaping 18 days ago — which was a whole other issue. But I believe my meditation practice (among other mindful practices) helped reduce my cravings and keep me centered and present while detoxing off of 15 years of nicotine addiction. No gum. No fancy books. Just mindfulness.
- Creativity. I am a designer and with Covid I have been stuck inside completely sheltered to the things and routines that keep me creative. Meditation, gratitude lists and sitting from 10-20 minutes daily has clicked a refresh on my brain. I have more ideas. I have gone on mental journeys while creating I haven’t before. I’ve actually created things and said “Damn, that’s good.” (A great TM book on Creativity is David Lynch’s Catching the Big Fish.). I was able to find a clear connection to my inner creativity. Meditation allowed me to worry less, regulate my emotions, spend less time trying to get things done, and more time coming up with ideas. One of the best examples! I came up with this blog just within 13 days of meditating everyday!
- Connection. Meditation keeps me close and in touch contact with the people I love in my life. Sometimes my meditations are just repeated mantras of wishing love and kindness to people in my life. Those thoughts actually manifest real connection in my day to day life. I’ve reached out to more people on a regular basis rather than isolating.
- Schedule. During this time I tried morning meditation, mid-day meditation, and night meditation. For me I was able to find and establish a regular schedule of waking up and practicing. It usually goes like this: I wake up and oil pull for 20 minutes while feeding the dogs and watering the plants. Then I do an online workout of some sort and finish with sitting in our meditation chair and reading my daily readings and doing 10-20 minutes of meditation. Then it’s coffee and shower time and time to start the day! This has helped me in maintaining a favorable sleep, diet, and workout schedule.
Absolutely adding daily meditation to my wellness routine. All this was a result of 30 days. Can you imagine a life of this?