Learning to meditate was something I’d been wanting to do for a while but, like so many things that are good for us, I never got around to it. So when I stumbled across Headpsace – a free course that teaches mindfulness meditation techniques in 10-minute-long daily sessions – it was too easy and appealing a prospect to resist. Even I can cope with downloading a free app and finding 10 minutes each day to do this.
Now, I’m not completely new to this type of meditation. Many years ago, I took an adult learning course in which the tutor started each lesson with a short mindfulness exercise which she called ‘arriving’. It involved sitting quietly and closing our eyes while she talked slowly about focusing on our breathing and thinking back over our journey in that morning and letting any frustrations or worries we felt on the way in go. I was amazed at how this short and simple process (I don’t think it lasted longer than five minutes) left me feeling so much calmer and more ready to engage with the class. The Headspace exercises are very similar.
Meditating for just 10 minutes a day was trickier than I had anticipated. Because it’s not just the time you need to find, but also somewhere where you can sit quietly for 10 minutes without interruption. I found mornings and evenings tricky – I tried meditating before work and after netball or the gym, but I found the best time for me was in the middle of the day. Taking some time out during my lunch break to be calm and let go of my stress really set me up well for a positive and productive afternoon. And once I found an empty meeting room, I had the logistics sorted.
So, did it work for me? The short answer is: yes, it did. The Headspace website promises a lot: to help you ‘focus more, sleep better, live more, love better, stress less, train better, worry less, listen better, smile more and eat better’. While I can’t vouch that the 10-session introductory course did all of those things, I certainly felt less stressed and more focused and – most importantly for me – my mind slowed itself down. My brain likes to race at the best of times, and when the stress ramps up so does the pace of the thoughts rampaging through my mind. I am also someone who can quite quickly feel overwhelmed with worries, and the exercises really did enable me to step back from those and make me feel more in control. And so, while finding 10 minutes in which to meditate seemed difficult at first, once I started to feel the benefits, I realised it was actually no time at all. Now, for level two…
Have you tried meditation? What do you do to keep calm and find some focus?