I started meditating a little over a year ago. I had the most amazing guided meditation session at a yoga studio that sent my state of mind careening into a kaleidoscope of colors.
Thirty minutes later, I “woke up” from my colorful state of unconsciousness thinking two minutes had passed. Mind blown.
I was a believer; I just wasn’t a regular.
Over the next 12 months, I dabbled, “om-ing” with sporadic inconsistency.
There was always something more pressing that pushed a regular practice to the backburner: I was too busy, too stressed, too tired, too wired, too swamped, too everything.
But the thing is, meditation counters them all.
It’s one of those silver lining habits that delivers all benefits without any downsides. Plus, it’s totally free and takes less time than you think.
Here’s what I discovered once meditation and I started going steady.
1. I waste a lot of time in a day.
The biggest excuse for not meditating is time.
I know, because that was my go-to cop out. Once I started consistent meditation, I realized just how much time I was giving up to frivolous things each day: checking status updates on Facebook, binge-watching Netflix shows, surfing the web.
Starting a regular meditation practice forced me to really look at my day and ask: “Do you have 10 extra minutes between waking up and winding down that you can devote to something healthy and helpful?”
The answer was always a resounding “yes.”
Devotees say it makes them more productive.
Science says that meditation boosts the self-control center of your brain, activating areas that control awareness, focus, and memory.
2. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to taming a stressed out mind.
I wish I could say I sat down for the first of my month-long meditation sessions and plunged head first into the deep end.
In reality, it was more like wading into a chilly river.
It feels uncomfortable at first, but then you dip in an arm and splash some water on your face, and before you know it, your whole body is emerged, and it doesn’t feel cold at all.
It wasn’t eay to get there, though.
Repeating a single word or mantra in my head only turned up the volume. Watching my wandering thoughts float away like clouds only clouded my mind. Counting beads? Count me out.
After researching different meditation techniques and giving them a shot, I found what worked for me: When I focused on my third eye, it was as if the three ring circus of my mind went out of focus.
The bears were still dancing, the fat lady was still singing and the trapeze artists were still swinging, but I was no longer caught up in the craziness.
Since I’m a visual person, I also found another technique that worked: When I pictured breathing in white light, my thoughts seemed to vaporize.
3. When in doubt, write it down.
Some thoughts I could just blow away easily. Others took a little more coaxing.
But I found a trick for those nagging thoughts: Write them down.
At first these raging ruminations ruined my sessions, but then I started keeping a notebook beside me and quickly learned that putting them to pen and paper was the best way to get them out of my head.
4. I opened up some energy channels (I think).
A week or so into my meditation adventures, I noticed tingles running up and down my spine—waves of relaxation zinging my muscles into submission, kind of like that body buzz you get after a good massage.
In Chinese teaching, qi, or life force, flows through the body along energy channels called meridians, and one of the biggest runs up the base of the spine.
Experts claim meditation can clear out those channels and awaken the body’s chakras or energy centers, which is one possible explanation for the physical, tingly release I was feeling.
5. The more you do it, the more you want to do it.
I’m not going to lie: The first week felt like work. I had to force myself to meditate.
But, by week two, something clicked and I started craving the calm that came over me every time I tapped Russell Simmons’ meditation app.
Before I knew it, I started opting for 20-minute sessions instead of 10-minute ones.
I also added another mini-meditation that I found in The Tools, a life-changing book with an easy gratitude exercise that fills you up and grounds you at the same time.
I’d bust it out in the car, in the supermarket line, or anytime I felt my thoughts starting to swirl out of control.
6. I went on an all-day road trip with my mom and three kids and didn’t even blow a gasket.
I’m an introvert. I do not get recharged around other people, even if they are my two kids (aged 6 and 8), my 7-year-old niece, and my mother.
So, the day of the road trip, I set my alarm a little earlier and meditated first thing.
I went for the full 20 minutes and really soaked it up.
It turns out we had the best day. The kids were still loud, my mom was still my mom, and there were tourists everywhere.
But the stuff that normally gets to me didn’t.
The world didn’t change, but my reactions did. And if that isn’t reason enough to start meditating and keep on doing it, I don’t know what is.
This article 6 Things That Happened When I Tried Meditating Every Day For a Month
originally ran on RodalesOrganicLife.com.