After my 30-day meditation challenge, I don’t think I’ll be continuing with a 10 minute daily meditation practice.
At the start of the month, when my schedule was comparably free and flexible, I was able to sink into meditation without thinking about what was on my to-do list. But since being back on campus, it has become harder to find the time and motivation to meditate.
On one hand, I recognize that 30 days might not be enough to feel the benefits of meditation. On the other hand, if meditating feels more and more like a chore, I don’t want to force it.
So, here is how my 30-day meditation challenge went…
In my midpoint check-in, I reflected on how I wanted to try meditating before sundown, meditating in silence, and meditating for 15 minutes.
Though I mostly ended up meditated during the day, I must admit, I didn’t try meditating in silence or meditating for 15 minutes.
Honestly, I don’t mind that I didn’t try meditating in silence. Even when I do work, I enjoy at least a bit of background noise, so silent meditation doesn’t quite appeal to me.
As for meditating for 15 minutes, in these past few days, meditating for 10 minutes has already felt exhaustive. My attention span must be in a pretty sad state if 10 minutes of being left with my own thoughts feels like an eternity. After all, I’d easily commit 10 minutes to mindlessly watching a YouTube video.
Occasionally, I even found myself checking how much meditation time left I had on my phone. I was antsy and impatient. Of course, there were other times that I got into the rhythm and could’ve meditated for longer. But those times were few and far between.
In this sense, I think a consistent meditation practice would help lengthen my attention span—which, in this increasingly instantaneous world, is something I value.
But in order to maintain a sustainable meditation practice, I’ll have to be more flexible to account for my irregular schedule. Depending on how I’m feeling in the moment, I might want to meditate for 3 minutes, 7 minutes, or even 15 minutes. And that’ll be okay.
I can’t imagine that I’ll meditate everyday, but I’m sure I’ll continue in a less rigid, structured fashion going forward.
Here are the top five takeaways from my 30-day meditation challenge. Though I’m unlikely to meditate on a daily basis, when I do meditate, I’ll keep these points in mind!
1. Find what position works for you. This takes trial and error to find. I like sitting upright (towards the front of the seat so I don’t lean back), with my feet on the ground, my hands resting on my thighs, and my eyes closed. For the first two weeks of this challenge, I tried sitting on my knees, with crossed-legs, on hard chairs, on cushions, etc. But when I finally found my ideal posture, I felt most at ease while meditating.
2. You don’t have to find perfect stillness. At the same time, there are moments when I inadvertently feel fidgety. Sometimes, if I sit too still, I feel almost trapped or paralyzed in my body. Trying out movement-oriented focused meditation helped break my perception of perfectly still meditation. It’s okay to move. Stillness is something to practice and settle into.
3. Meditating outside is nice. On one sunny day, I sat outside to meditate. At first, I sat on a bench, but I became self-conscious about people walking by. So instead, I found a shady spot on the grass, sat in a cross-legged position, and enjoyed the chirping birds and the warm breeze. Even though I wasn’t sitting in my “ideal” position, the fresh air made the experience worthwhile.
4. Start slow. In retrospect, meditating for 10 minutes a day might have been ambitious. If I were to do this month over, I’d set my goal to be 5 minutes of daily meditation. 5 minutes is neither too long nor too short. If I’d never meditated before, I might even start off with 3 minutes and work my way up from there.
5. Don’t try to “squeeze in” a quick meditation. The times that I least enjoyed meditating were when I felt rushed. When I meditated right before I had to leave, my mind was distracted with the anxiety of being late. When I waited until the very end of the day to meditate, I wanted to get it over with before going to bed. Neither circumstance was ideal. In the future, if I want to fully relax and enjoy my meditation, I want to plan with more intention and foresight. Scheduling meditation into my calendar will help hold me accountable.