You may recall that in May of this year, Monkey and I attended a meditation retreat in Bali with Light Watkins. I left the retreat vowing to maintain a twice a day meditation practice (20 minutes in the morning, and 20 minutes in the afternoon), but unsure how it easy it would be to maintain.
Well here we are, six months later, and I wanted to share my experiences in case you’ve wondered if there are any real benefits to be had from meditation, and how realistic it is to spend 40 minutes a day meditating. I’m also sharing some tips for meditating success. Surprisingly, I haven’t found it that hard to maintain my practice. The second session very occasionally gets skipped because of work or social commitments, but even then, I’ll try to mediate just before I go to sleep.
How do I Know My Meditation is Working?
For me, there are a few key indicators that indicate meditation is working for me.
- One thing I noticed right away, for about 5-6 weeks after the retreat, is that I completely lost my desire for alcohol. I realize that for some of us, that could be seen as a disadvantage, but I decided to go with it. In the past, especially towards the end of a long work week, I’d feel like a good g&t would be the only thing that could help me unwind. That feeling has disappeared altogether, which tells me that my stress is getting handled in other ways. #goodnews. Now I enjoy a cocktail when I want to vs. I because I need one.
- When I can get my afternoon meditation completed before around 5pm or 5.30pm I have a lot more energy for the evening. If I’m feeling tired, I may even nod off during this meditation, but as Light told us it was fine to “repay the sleep debt” I go with whatever my body is telling me I need.
- Vedic meditation doesn’t dictate that you cease thinking during your allotted time, but you do have a mantra to help prevent any thoughts from dominating. What I’ve noticed frequently, is that by meditating I am giving myself quality time to think about stuff that matters, and often about my interactions with others. For instance, I have time to reflect on who I should compliment or thank in my life, and I’ve often found solutions to problems I’m wrestling with. Having time to think is a valuable gift I’ve given myself.
- One of the promises of meditation is that you become less reactive, especially in stressful or difficult situations. It’s really hard to judge this for yourself. Before writing this article, I asked Monkey if he’d noticed a change, and he said “well you still get mad at me, so NO!” I guess a teen will try the patience of even a saint.
Tips to My Success
- I stopped reaching for my phone the minute I woke up. And magically, that unleashed 20 minutes each morning for me to spend meditating. On the rare occasion I slip up and find my phone in my hand, I am amazed how quickly I can waste 20-25 minutes checking social media and email.
- Even when I am not ‘feeling it’ – especially in the afternoon/evening I urge myself to mediate. I’ve never regretted it. Sometimes I am more antsy than others for my practice to end, but that feeling soon passes.
- I try not to worry too much about other things going on around me: Monkey thumping around the house, the washing machine spinning, loud music, etc. Such is life, and I don’t want my meditation to be a needy or precious endeavor.
All-in-all, I believe that meditation has positively enhanced my life, and apparently, it has a cumulative effect, so the longer I do it, the more benefits there are to be had. I fully intend to continue my practice and if you’ve been curious about it, I urge you to give it a shot.