Meditation Thursday

This week has been an interesting one. Last week, I spent some time looking at things I could do to be healthier. As a dedicated tech lover, I downloaded apps, which I’ll talk about in a minute. Right now I’ve spent just over a week doing these things and I want to take a time-out from all my politics and religion ideas to look inward.

66 Days

The first thing I did was download an app called HabitBull. This was the start and it was a very good place. The app itself is simple. You list new habits that you want to have and it helps you track them. Some are simple yes/no tracks and others involve benchmarks. For instance, I have a quota for work every day, so when I track that I have a minimum number I need to hit and then I write down the number I’ve actually done.

The theory behind the app is that it takes 66 days to establish a new habit, which got me thinking. How many days have I been engaging in old habits? It’s definitely more than 66. Frankly, I’ve been in a rut, probably for most of my life. The idea that I could change all that in just over two months is kind of mind blowing and empowering. It’s a freeing feeling to realize not only that you can change, but that change isn’t as hard as you think it is.

App Me Happy

Look, I’m not the cheeriest of people. I consider myself even-tempered, but I probably tend to a more low-emotion spectrum of existence. Mostly, this manifests itself as negative thoughts directed inward. I beat myself up all the time. Honestly, it’s so bad that my Atheist Wife often feels sorry for me.

So I downloaded another app called Happify. This is apparently a science-based application that helps you be more positive by getting you to create positive ways to deal with negativity and rewiring your brain so it focuses on more positive things. Talking about it with my partner, who is a counseling professor, she endorsed it, explaining that its science is sound.

Okay, it sounds stupid to use an app to make yourself happier. But honestly, it does seem to work. I look forward to using it daily and that, in itself, is a pretty good endorsement for me. I can’t estimate how much it helps or doesn’t help right now. I think it’s still too early to tell. But at least it is a step towards something better and that’s what I need in my life.

 Space and Time

Meditation is in the title of this post and meditation is where I want to end it. Lately I’ve been doing really simple yoga at home, just to work on my fitness in a low impact way and get some flexibility (I am notoriously stiff). I didn’t really expect to enjoy the time I spend on the floor, twisting around, breathing deeply and focusing only on one thing. Usually I need music or the tv on in order to feel like I’m multitasking, but my daily yoga has become a time of peace and quiet where I just focus on one thing at a time.

After realizing that I was enjoying the mental activity of yoga as much as the physical, I went looking for something to meditate with. It was back to the app store for me and I found exactly what I needed in a program called Headspace. It is a very simple, guided meditation app that teaches you how to train your brain and gain, well, headspace. This isn’t an “eastern religion” or kooky tree-hugger thing. This is genuine brain training that can help you get a better hold on your mind. Instead of being dragged around by the thoughts in your head, you can decide which ones to follow and which to not.

Here’s the intro video from Headspace’s YouTube channel. There are a lot of interesting mindfulness videos on their channel and if you’re interested, take a look. I highly recommend it.

What A Week Gets You

Do you feel like I’ve gone all new-agey on you? Maybe I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole of self-help and millenial app madness. Maybe. But at the same time, I’m also looking at the past week and adding up the results. It has only been a week and already I have more energy, a more open feeling in my head and actual progress on some of my longest-held and least accomplished goals.

Let me put it this way. I was trying to explain to my wife last night what I felt like after meditating and I said, “It’s like being outside and then walking into your house.” I feel like I’m coming home to myself. As someone who struggles with unwanted thoughts, bouts of anxiety and paranoia, insomnia where I just cannot calm myself enough to sleep and continuous self criticism, I feel like I have control. I am starting to feel comfortable with myself.

These are just some of the tools I’m using to grow and improve. I recommend them based on my experience with them, but everyone is different. Before you try anything, make sure you consult the people you need to consult. Doctors, family, friends, yourself – don’t try to put yourself in my box. Be yourself and do what helps you. And if you do find something or even use these, let me know. I’d love to celebrate with you.

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