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6 Things I learned from 6 weeks of meditation

After a few start-then-stop attempts and several good streaks, last night as I took off my headphones and checked into Coach.me I realized one thing. It’s been six weeks since I decided to spend 10 minutes every evening on meditation – and during these six weeks, I didn’t miss one evening. I started thinking about changes it helped me achieve. Whether you’re coaching or coached, meditation will do things to you: here’s what it did to me.

(If you’re keen to start straight away, scroll to the bottom of this post for a link to a kick-start worksheet)

Please note: your results will vary. Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable doing. Don’t do stupid things either: drivers and crane operators, think twice before meditating on duty, etc. This is a personal account: check with your doctors/dear ones for possible results of anything you’re likely to start doing.

1. Everything you read is probably right…

Seth Godin was right about deciding to do things daily. Tara Stiles was right about the “space that opens up” with every breath when you meditate. Countless articles about sitting down and breathing – Leo Babauta‘s, everyone else’s – they were all correct. Unless you read some super-advanced or super-cosmic stuff, the research about meditation checks out. And yet…

2. …And yet it’s all a lot more personal

The best way to describe a good 10-minute meditation session came to my mind just after I got up from my mat and untangled myself from the blanket, halfway through January: it’s like giving yourself a nice big hug. This is not really something you read in every single research paper on mindfulness. But this is exactly the reason why I’d recommend people to try this at least a few times. You may not live forever, or improve your memory, or achieve any of the remarkable benefits attributed to those who meditate. But you will get your own feel-good moments. Mine were self-inflicted hugs, and that’s good enough for me.
Speaking of good sessions: let’s clarify two things next.

3. I absolutely, positively suck at meditation sometimes…

Three coffees down the hatch. Then delicious dinner with wine and great company. Then an hour-long performance which was like nothing I’d seen before – and a pretty crowded Tube ride home before I start preparing for the business trip the following morning. In the midst of it, a ten-minute sliver of time in which I sit an breathe.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this was not the most enlightening moments of transcendent focus ever. No sir. It was most likely a break in a hectic day, a chance to see where my ideas are going and to put it all on hold before I get ready to sleep.
These days will happen, and I am well aware of that. What you expect from a Londoner on a Friday evening will be different than the kind of performance to expect from a buddhist monk on a lonely summer night.
But that’s not the whole story.

4. …But I’m in it for the long run

Every one of these forty-something sessions was at least 10 minutes long. This means well over 400 minutes in the course of six weeks. It means that I had a chance, every day, to do something relaxing and refreshing for ten minutes. And that every day I took this chance.
Not every session left me feeling happier and more energized. But I realize that day after day these minutes add up. And that the habit which now is beginning to form will be one of the best things that happens to me. So instead of kicking myself over not being focused enough on a Friday night, I’d just smile and remember the little changes, and the long haul – there’s no way I’m stopping now.

5. Meditation won’t improve the life you have…

Six weeks ago, I was a young guy with lots of ideas, living in a monstrously big city and working on several things at once. I drank plenty of coffee and tried to find enough energy to do things which excited me. I had my problems, my worries and my little victories.
After six weeks of meditation – surprise surprise, drum roll please – I am exactly the same kind of guy.
This is one thing worth mentioning. Meditation won’t change your life forever. If you ask an over-achieving businesswoman to take ten minutes out of her schedule to meditate, she will still have a hell of a schedule each side of this break. If you’re in debt, you’ll still be in debt when you start meditating.
So what’s the use?

6. …But it can help you notice how things can move around

Here’s the use I found for meditation.
Because my thoughts tended to flow super wildly in the evening, I found it easier to write stuff down just before I sat down to focus. So the meditation habit quickly connected with the diary-writing habit. And once I noticed I’m doing that, I became less worried about losing an idea – since they tended to pop into my head when writing the pre-meditation diary.
Since my meditation is in the evening, I now think more carefully about what else I’ve got planned for the night. Usually I take care to sort things out online and around the house before I sit down. This makes it easier to focus without remembering something I forgot to do. And this, in turn, means more time in the morning and less rush.
It’s a habit, just like any other. You are taught and advised (sagely) to work on one habit at a time. This makes sense – but the habit will never work in isolation.
Meditating allowed me to see how other things connect, and to figure out how to move the connections in the right direction.

BONUS: Meditation kickstart resource list

BRAVE Academy now has a resource list which will help you kick-start your meditation habit. Check it out for a quick and easy way to start. Hope you enjoy it!

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