From procrastination to meditation and the app that made it possible
Mindful meditation isn’t easy , it takes practice. In the last post I wrote about having that ‘Ah-ha!’ moment where I realised where I was going wrong. But just because I could see my mistakes didn’t make it any easier to get a grip on myself. Bad habits are a lot easier to maintain than good ones.
How did I pull myself together?
First there was honesty. I had to look at myself and honestly ask why was I holding back?
It’s not easy putting yourself under a microscope, facing fears and emotions that you may have pushed down. Even for someone who is trained in enabling people to look at themselves. Really it came down to practising what I preach.
My reason for wanting to practise meditation more regularly was to aid my recovery. To help me cope better with the dizzying array of symptoms and limitations that my illness had forced upon me. But at the same time I was scared about my future.
Admitting I was scared was a huge step. I knew I had to face this fear, acknowledge it and own it. Not squishing it down and pretending it wasn’t there made me less scared.
Yet I still wasn’t committing myself to practice. I enjoyed mindful meditation, I felt good after each session but I still couldn’t find the time to sit and be. Which in itself was ridiculous because all I have is time!
I came to the conclusion that unless I have structure, I procrastinate. I am great at finding things to do other than what I should be doing. Now though it was holding me back.
I realised that I needed to create structure and routine in my day and in my practise if I wanted to see results.
Top four tips to kick start your mindful meditation
- Identify a regular time in your day where you will not be disturbed. For me it is 10/15 minutes in the morning when my eldest takes my youngest to school and the house is quiet.
- Find an ideal spot that promotes a feeling of peace. I have a chair in my bedroom that looks out of my window, the windowsill has plants and crystals on it creating a calm comfortable space.
- Find your level of comfort with your space. You maybe the total opposite of me and have a very tidy and organised home so that is great. For me I found that for all my ‘mess’ in my room it was an unmade bed that would distract my thoughts. So I always make my bed before sitting down to meditate. If you can’t settle try to take time to listen to where your thoughts are taking you – what is niggling at the back of your mind that needs to be done.
- Set your intention. I repeat to myself before I go to sleep and when I wake ‘tomorrow/Today I will meditate’. A gentle reminder to myself of what I intend to do means I don’t forget to do it.
Headspace – the app that guides and grows
Even with all this in place I was still struggling once I sat down. So I began to look for guided meditations that weren’t too long or the speaker (narrator?) had an annoying voice.
A while back I had watched a Ted Talks video where this juggling guy talked about taking 10 minutes out of your day to practice mindful meditation. It had resonated with me – 10 minutes was doable I was able to sit for that long before pain and stiffness overwhelmed me.
After further searching I found Headspace. Launched in 2010 it promoted positive mental health through taking 10 minutes a day to practice mindfulness. What’s more it offers 10 free sessions of the foundation course.
10 minutes. 10 days. Free.
Hell yeah, count me in!
Building a solid foundation of practice
The sessions narrated by Andy and as you progress there are really interesting little videos explaining mindfulness. It’s like having your own personal tutor. Whilst the core practice is the same in each session I didn’t feel like stagnating in a single guided mediation listening to the same session over and over. New ideas and skills are introduced as you progress, these people really want you to develop your practice.
By day 7 I was no longer procrastinating. I would wake up and look forward to my 10 minutes of ‘mindcraft’ (that’s what Little Pea calls it). So much so that I signed up for the full package.
The first 10 days of the foundation course is free and you can choose to carry on repeating them or you can sign up to carry on for the full 30 day foundation course. There are lots of course packs to sign up to after completing the 30 day’s from helping with stress to creativity. You choose how long the sessions are – from 10 to 30 minutes and packs can range from 10 – 30 sessions.
So what has Headspace done for me?
I have now completed two packs which is 60 days of mindfulness (Yay, go me!)
- Meditation is enjoyable rather than it being something I must do to get better
- I no longer try to squash my thoughts and feelings.
- I acknowledge and accept my body and its limitations, yep even the excruciating pain that comes with fibromyalgia. Fighting it only makes it worse. I have reduced my pain medication too though whether it is the warmer weather or mindfulness only time will tell.
- Less discomfort. I am able to sit comfortably for 10 minutes as I am not focusing solely on my physical being
- I have more energy in the morning as I am no longer wrestling with my thoughts after each session
- Stress reduction. I’m not scared of all the ‘what-ifs’ buzzing around my head.
- Clearer thoughts. The dreaded fibro fog where the brain forgets, inserts wrong words, or just leaves you with a blank expression, doesn’t settle on me so easily in the mornings now.
- More patience. Before if I was interrupted during a session I would feel the annoyance welling up inside of me and it wasn’t pleasant. How dare something or someone interrupt my ‘me’ time!!! Now I accept it, pause my practice, deal with it without snarling like an angry lion, settle back down and resume. And I can put that into practice throughout the day. I choose what my reactions are, they don’t control me.
In 60 days, those are huge steps for me. By no means is it a cure, I am still chronically ill and struggle every day but I have benefited from regular practice with this app. I love the way that you can keep track of your practice, choose other packs to do as you want or queue them until after you finish your current one. You can also buddy up with friends who are subscribers. Plus there is the blog The Orange Dot which has loads of great articles on mindfulness and life
Oh and did I mention there are rewards?
The gift of giving
Every so often you will get a little congratulations pop up on your screen, which is great, it’s like having a tutor pat you on the back and say well done. It acknowledges the time and effort you put in. Also you get emails congratulating you along with the offer of a gifting one month’s free subscription to a friend.
So I have a gift to give. One reader will have the chance to try the Headspace Foundation course for free. That’s 30 days, 300 minutes, of free guided mindful meditation.
All you have to do is comment ‘Yes please’ by midnight (GMT) on 31st July be in with a chance. I will draw the winner on August 1st so check for the post announcing the winner.