On March 15, I set a goal to meditate every day for one month to see what would happen.
After one month, I kept going and am still going. I just passed 100 days of consistent daily meditation and this is what has changed:
1. Less anxiety. Biggest change, by far. I feel as if something inside my body that was tightly wound has begun to unclench. It’s a deep internal release and continues to release more and more.
2. Feeling much more high-spirited, joyful, and optimistic (without even trying in any way).
3. Clearer thinking and easier decision making. Stepping into new situations with clarity. Leading more with intuition and energy rather than my thinking mind.
4. I am no longer afraid to meditate. I no longer dread it. I look forward to it. I am not afraid of my thoughts, even on “bad” meditation days. I sometimes settle in for a second daily meditation if things get hectic during the day.
5. My energy is naturally channeling into my passions. Working more. Writing more. Accomplishing more.
6. Occasional insomnia has pretty much minimized to a near zero. Sleeping heavy and deep, like I remember as a kid. Looking forward to sleep. No anxiety dreams or nightmares.
7. Feeling more connected in my yoga practice. Practice that is usually quite physical has slowed way down, but I’m OK with that. Feeling more in my body and restored after a practice.
8. More adaptable to change. Feeling as though I’m stepping into a flow and letting go of what I can’t control. Not all the time, but noticeable difference.
9. Slowing down. For someone that operates at a high velocity, slowing down is not something I necessarily even wanted to accomplish. I am still high energy, but it doesn’t feel messy and out of control. It’s the little things, like taking my time to apply sunscreen to my son rather than it being something I rush through. Or when he asks me to draw, I sit down and enjoy it rather focusing on what’s next.
Some tips to stay with your meditation practice, because it’s hard and takes effort:
Consistency. Find a time and place that is sacred and protected and stick to that each day. Don’t try to slide it in when a window opens up, because most likely it won’t. Throw out the idea that conditions must be perfect. Mine is first thing when I wake up before anyone else is up, right at the foot of my bed. Typically it’s about 6:15am. But I adapt. I meditated at 4:30 a.m. for a few early flights I had. I meditated on a cold marble bathroom floor in New York City while my family was sleeping. I never missed a morning in the 100 days, and still haven’t. It’s not always perfect, but I do it.
Start with pranayama (breath work). I do a few rounds of ujjayi pranayama (ocean-like, audible breath) following by nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing). The gateway into the practice is through the breath.
Don’t get hung up on time. When I started it was five minutes. Now it’s about 20 and that feels right. I have no desire to meditate for hours on end or do a 10 day silent meditation retreat. 20 minutes a day feels like enough time to drop in and feel a shift. I may add another 20 minutes in the evening at some point.
Don’t worry if the meditation is good or bad. Just meditate. Don’t judge the quality of the meditation while you’re in the meditation. You may not know whether you are dropping in or not. Some days I am quite sure all I do is sit and think, but then I still feel the benefits during the day. This is not something that comes natural; it takes practice. It’s not effortless until it becomes so (not there yet).
Observe your edge. Don’t stay in a place of torture and frustration. Know where that place is and play with it, but don’t camp out there. Come out of the meditation, gather yourself, go back to pranayama and try again. Or, let it go for the day and move on. Things will change.
Don’t worry too much about the type of meditation. No one “brand” is better than another. Meditation is simply settling your mind on a single point of focus. That focus can be mantra, breath, your heart chakra, music, chanting, an ocean view. I practice mantra. The point is to keep going back to that single point of focus when you lose your way. Be weary of any brand that over-promises or spends a ton of money on marketing. You are the one that holds the capacity for a deep meditation practice. You hold the internal wisdom. Everything you need is already right there.
The purpose of meditation is not to find inner peace. The purpose of meditation is to sit in stillness, drop into that place, and observe whatever is there without judgement. So don’t give up if you don’t feel peace and calm and butterflies and rainbows. In the beginning of my practice, I became acutely aware of my anxiety and it was actually quite rough. But it got easier. There are no problems to solve inside of a meditation. Stay with it. Things change. The path always trends to the positive.
At this point, I’ve skimmed the surface of what I hope will be a lifelong practice. This is in every way a self-study. A practice of developing deep compassion and self-love. If I can sit with the deepest corners of my mind, not react, and move through, then suddenly the world is a place of wonder and amazement for me to engage with. I am directly experiencing every single day that I am not my thoughts, I am the one observing.
I am the soul inside, an entire universe, expanding love.
Author: Anna Versaci
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Author’s Own