An Ad Suggested I Try Meditation. Here's What Happened When I Listened.

An Ad Suggested I Try Meditation. Here's What Happened When I Listened.

It’s amazing what our bodies remember that our minds may choose to ignore.
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I fidget a lot and though I’ve always been low-key fascinated by meditation, there has always been a part of me that felt that time spent awake should be time spent active.

At least, until I saw this add on Instagram and kept hearing it interrupt my music on Pandora. The advertisement was for this app called Headspace, they were offering a free Take 10 challenge where you’re supposed to dedicate ten minutes a day for ten days to meditation.

I’m a true believer in Albert Einstein's definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results”. And having recently watched the Laura Vanderkam TED Talk on “How to Gain Control of Your Free Time”, I realized that my ritual of wine and Netflix was not enough to rid me of my everyday stress and anxiety.

With nothing to lose, except perhaps my tendency to hold onto stress, I thought I’d give it a shot.

The first few days I found it hard to focus (the fidget was fidgety, who knew?) and set aside time. But the app has this built-in reminder to “get some headspace” and app founder Andy Puddicombe’s calming voice reminds the listener of the benefits of repetition and makes helpful suggestions about location and the importance of posture so that your body can feel relaxed, but aware. I had no real excuses not to stick to it and It was surprisingly easy to turn into a habit to put make my self care a priority in this new way.

Puddicombe focuses on the senses, the movement of the body with each breathe, the feel of the weight of your body on the chair and feet on the floor and the sounds and smells around you. It seems silly, but it’s about mindfulness and being present. Some things I desperately needed a reminder of.

By day three I felt a change. I found myself focusing on breathing instead of worry. I was slowly allowing myself to live on the present, even when stressful situations came my way.

Day five, I started understanding Puddicombe’s point that we, as individuals, judge ourselves too harshly. We add judgement to everything. Our appearance, intelligence, capacity for empathy and countless other things. We even judge ourselves for that initial judgement. And for me at least, if I mentally hold onto some of that judgement, my body also holds onto that judgement.

It’s amazing what our bodies remember, that our minds may choose to ignore, and it’s amazing how we can hold onto negative feelings without noticing. I hold tension in my shoulders and no matter how many stretches or exercises I do, it’s always there as a reminder that I am not doing 100 percent right by me. A factor that I had thought I grew out of, but by taking time to check in with my physical and emotional self I was able to reconnect with how stress affects far more than my mood.

Every so often the app plays short animations to demonstrate the positive effect of meditation. Perhaps a little cutesy, but visualizing your busy mind as a sky with clouds that represent thoughts, might make letting go of negative or unproductive thoughts a little easier.

Day ten came and I found myself wanting to commit more. I’m someone with an absurdly busy mind and a majority of the clouds occupying this sky aren’t productive or positive lately, so, taking a moment to breathe and feel without judgement was liberating.

I understand that I am in no way cured of my every day stressors, but something I am starting to realize is that the mind and body need constant maintenance.

There is no quick and easy cure and you cannot start meditation expecting immediate results. It’s about checking in with yourself and distancing from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Like with anything worth having, stress and anxiety relief is an investment and while you may not want to pay money past the free trial of this app, there are plenty of books and Youtube videos that offer similar options.

Meditation may not be for everyone but even this skeptic is sold.

Cover Image Credit: itunes

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A Love Letter To The Girl Who Cares Too Much About Everyone But Herself

You, the girl with a heart full of love and no place big enough to store it all.

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Our generation is so caught up in this notion that it's "cool" not to care about anything or anyone. I know you've tried to do just that.

I'm sure there was a brief moment where you genuinely believed you were capable of not caring, especially since you convinced everyone around you that you didn't. But that just isn't true, is it? Don't be ashamed of this, don't let anyone ridicule you for having emotions.

After everything life has put you through, you have still remained soft.

This is what makes you, you. This is what makes you beautiful. You care so deeply and love so boldly and it is incredible, never let the world take this from you.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You are the girl who will give and give and give until you have absolutely nothing left. Some may see this as a weakness, an inconvenience, the perfect excuse to walk all over you. I know you try to make sense of it all, why someone you cared so much about would treat you the way they did.

You'll make excuses for them, rationalize it and turn it all around on yourself.

You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

I know you feel guilty when you have to say no to something, I know you feel like you are letting everyone you love down when you do. Listen to me, it is not your responsibility to tend to everyone else's feelings all the time. By all means, treat their feelings with care, but remember it is not the end of the world when you cannot help them right away.

Remember that it is OK to say no.

You don't have to take care of everyone else all the time. Sometimes it's OK to say no to lunch with your friends and just stay home in bed to watch Netflix when you need a minute for yourself. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done because you are worried about letting other people down, but please give it a try.

With all of this, please remember that you matter. Do not be afraid to take a step back and focus on yourself. You owe yourself the same kind of love and patience and kindness and everything that you have given everyone else. It is OK to think about and put yourself first. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You are so incredibly loved even when it doesn't feel like it, please always remember that. You cannot fill others up when your own cup is empty. Take care of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Charcoal Alley

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The 3 Struggles That Optimistic, Open-Minded, Good-Hearted People Deal With

Am I wrong for wanting to see the "what might go rights" in this messed up world?

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In today's world, it is so hard to remain soft and kind. There is so much that goes on outside of ourselves, that influence the inside of ourselves. I believe that there exists a thin line between giving someone advice and telling them what to do, a thinner line between wishing to protect someone, and ruining something for them with the negative poison that comes with the "what might go wrongs." Don't be that person in someone's life, don't be the poison. Maybe I am naïve, but am I wrong for wanting to see the "what might go rights" in this messed up world? I don't think I am, and honestly, that is all that matters. Here are a few struggles that optimistic, open-minded, good-hearted people like me deal with every day.

1. Trying to explain that I'd rather get hurt than not give it a chance.

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I rather feel pain than nothing at all. I know you can't understand that because like most humans, you would rather avoid pain, because well, it hurts; but I will always try to explain myself to you because pain is so important to me and has been such a deciding and changing factor in my life. I am who I am because of all the hardships I have endured in my lifetime; and I kinda like this open-minded, loving, up and coming courageous person that I am developing into one non- regretful mistake at a time. Failure is the only way we truly learn, and I have fallen in love with the process of falling and getting back up better and stronger.

2. Getting the negative person to shut the hell up because they are contagious and draining AF. 

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As the soft-hearted person that I am, I have always had a hard time with confrontation. I do not like to raise my voice, or make people feel bad with my words, because I think that that is one of the worst things that a human can do to another; but I also very much do not like that I feel the need to explain myself to people. I feel like I need to open-minded the way that I am, why I am the way I am, why I do things the way I do.

Chances are these people don't deserve an explanation from me because chances are, they are close-minded people that have always, and will always believe that their way is the better way without so much as listening to what you have to say. I try because I truly believe that if they understood me, their life could change for the better and they could be rid of their negativity and open their minds to the world. My mother always says "Pick your battles" and I've never heard better advice.

3. Explaining why you get mad when the people you are with make fun of a stranger for their life choices. 

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Life choices are hard, creating yourself is hard, and harder every day as society tries to shape and mold us with its ideas of how things should or should not be, how we should act and look. Labels hurt, they ruin and end lives. I think people that stand up for what they believe and feel comfortable with their every choice are BRAVE. They should not be made fun of for not sticking to the status quo, the open-minded should be celebrated as rebels because in today's world the hardest thing you can do is be yourself. In a world of stereotypes, labels, and discrimination, all you want to do to save your heart and mental health is hide, copy and conform. I celebrate you rebels, I envy your courage, and I will always slap my close-minded friends when they're laughing at you.

Life is what I call an experimental process where things are constantly changing, and gears are constantly in motion, or at least I hope so. As long as I am alive, I will strive for change. I will always give chances, and I will always be looking to step out of my comfort zone and try new things because that is what living means to me; and I will always, always choose to see the good and the best in people because that is who I am. It also means falling and hurting, but that is part of the natural process of becoming better and stronger.

So, to all the haters out there you say, "bitch don't kill my vibe! this is how I chose to live my life, this is how I will continue to live it, stop telling me what I should and should not do." To all my lovely readers, I am not telling you to be reckless and dangerously naïve, because the goal is not to end our lives but to live them to the fullest. I want you to think a little less, but never stop thinking and listening to your intuition and common sense. I am telling you to believe in yourself and live your life how you wish to, ain't nothing in this world that's gonna to make you happier than living it the way you want to, no rules, no restrictions, no norms, no labels, no negativity, no society. Just you.

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