30 days daily meditation challenge
Starting daily meditation was part of my 2018 resolutions. I was already doing the occasional meditation session at the end of my yoga sessions in shavasana (corpse pose). Those sessions were easier to do, because I am more connected to my body after a yoga session. After an hour of turning, twisting and strengthening, my mind is more focused on the release of my muscles, the blood flowing and the overall wellbeing that you feel after a yoga session.
My naive mind thought that daily meditation would be no different, boy was I wrong!
Turbulent minds and over-thinkers
To put things into context, I have a very turbulent mind. I realised it even more after my daily meditation challenge. I read somewhere and don’t quote me on this, that women’s brains in general are more active than men’s. Hence our capacity of multitasking. And since we are working together now, I am a little bit jealous of my husband, he takes on one task at a time and focus on it until it’s done and do nothing else than that. Ok, the nature of our jobs are different, and blogging is definitely a multitasking world: you need to think about SEO, social media strategy, write, promote, engage, create, edit, pitch, continuously learn new skills… and so on. But I must admit that I’ve always find it hard to focus on one task.
I typically have the “browser with too many tabs open” syndrom, and please tell me that I’m not the only one.
Even in my time off… (though I don’t know what that is since I work for myself) my mind is never at ease. I typically have the “browser with too many tabs open” syndrom, and please tell me that I’m not the only one. Not necessarily negative or stressful thoughts, but too many layers of thoughts nonetheless. During meditation, I noticed that those thoughts work in a layering pattern, and some were louder than the others:
▲ A layer focusing on what I am currently doing: working, reading, watching a movie, cooking, having a conversation… This layer can be more or less loud depending on how much space the other layers are taking. And this layer is what defines how strong is my focus.
▲ A layer of to dos: this one can bring anxiety, as it takes me out of the present time and worry/be excited about things to come, or things that I have to do later. This layer is the one that I work on the most!
▲ A creative layer: especially since I started making content, I am constantly thinking of ways to improve my work, ideas, projects, strategies. One of the downsides (or not!) of being passionate about what you do.
▲ A down memory lane layer: On the backside of my mind, I always have a memory running on like a projection movie. This one does not really bother me even if it takes me out of the present moment as well and back to the past. But generally those are good memories, of travels or encounters that leave me smiling when I focus on them.
I now understand why when I work, I always need music or something on the tv to shut down one layer of thoughts so I can focus better on my work. Not healthy, I know, but that’s how I roll and now I know why.
If you relate to this, keep on reading…
Wow! I realise that I have a lot to say about the subject. I wanted to make a talking video about it, but my video making process is still very slow and frustrating and I don’t want to delay the giveaway further.
The best meditation apps
Now that the context is set, let’s review the experience. Having this turbulent mind, the only thing that can work for me is guided meditation. I heard about phone apps that can do that and gave the top 3 a try with their free trial versions (thrifty as always!). I started with Headspace, then Calm, and Pause.
The three apps are all amazing, well designed and serve different purposes, but Pause is the one that suits me. Sometimes I feel like the app reads my mind, the moment that I become unfocused the narrator gives me a tool to get my focus back, from breathing, to counting or micro-movement techniques, all in a gentle way without making me feel bad about my practice whatsoever. That’s exactly what I needed, to be at ease with my imperfect practice. But the main three reasons why I chose Pause over the others are:
▲ I am all about gender neutrality, but I honestly find a woman’s voice more soothing and relaxing. The coach’s voice is incredibly relaxing.
▲ I love that they suggest meditation sessions based on your mood in that day. From healing sounds to shorter sessions.
▲ I wanted an app that only focuses on short daily meditation and nothing else, my turbulent unfocused mind doesn’t need more distractions.
Pause is available in both English and French. As I told my Instagram friends, I reached out to them to offer your the chance to try this experience. So there is a giveaway with this article, and 5 of you can win a 1 year subscription to Pause app. This is not sponsored, Pause are just generously letting me share the experience with you. This is an opportunity for us to motivate each and hold ourselves accountable, I encourage you to DM me on Instagram to tell me how you are doing with your practice. I am sure that you may have a very different experience and perspective that I would love to hear about. We can help each other, I am clearly no expert either and sharing with my community helped me so many times.
I believe that this is part of my job as a blogger, trying new things that you would hesitate to do and report back. If I can use the platform to offer the products to you, it’s even better. This is where my work makes the most sense.
Here is a video about how the app works:
▲ Leave a comment on this article. Ideally telling us why you would like to try daily guided meditation, but whatever comes into your mind works just as well.
▲ The prize is one year subscription to Pause app.
▲ I will announce the 5 winners in a week: Thursday 29th March.
Daily guided meditation review
Now let’s review the experience…The initial goal was to do nothing more than 10 min a day… it’s seems easy right? But in these times we are so not used to stillness anymore, sitting still doing nothing for 10 min ends up being a challenge.
The first two days were surprisingly easy, I didn’t feel the time passing by. But the 3rd day was a pure nightmare for me! Those 10 min felt like an eternity, and I had an overflow of really negative thoughts.
My mind unraveled every past failure, embarrassing moment of my life, doubts, memories of toxic people, every “what if” and “should have” that could possibly eat my brain. It left me depressed for a whole weekend.
Hopefully, being mature as I am now in my 30’s, I was very much aware of what was happening and I just let that phase pass. I stayed at home and watched my favourite shows while letting depression pass by. I absolutely don’t blame the meditation practice, it surely does not invent thoughts it just unravels what’s already there. In general, I always try to be positive and grateful, and it maybe stifles some emotions that needed to be dealt with, and meditation did just that.
I needed to deal with those thoughts in order to be in peace with them Instead of repressing and denying them. And this is when I understood what meditation is all about. Luckily, I didn’t give up, I was convinced that after this transition I will finally see the true benefits of meditation. So I continued! Exchanging with some of my readers on Instagram me helped a lot. One of them gave me a magical tool that worked like a charm, I will tell you about it the last section.
My Pause practice
I developed a daily Pause ritual that I look for everyday, it’s my me-time and break from all what’s possibly happening in my life. I must drive the app crazy though because I don’t practice at the same time anymore. My favourite time right now is right before brunch/ breakfast. When I’ve already put on some work after my morning routine and I have more clarity about my intentions of the day.
▲ I first make a very hot tea that would be just at the right temperature after my practice.
▲ I lock myself in a room and make sure that I won’t be disturbed for the next 15-20min.
▲ I put on comfortable clothes.
▲ I light an incense, a scented candle or a smudge stick.
▲ I dim the light for a more relaxing atmosphere.
▲ I open the Pause app and pick my practice of the day.
▲ I put my phone on airplane mode and start my practice.
▲ After my practice, I gently open my eyes and then, I sip on my tea while journaling.
The benefits of daily meditation and lessons learnt
Now it’s time to understand why I put myself into such a nightmare. Even though I didn’t live it as a nightmare but more as healing process. The main reason that made me interested in meditation is that it’s a part of all the successful people’s routine. All the entrepreneurs, achievers, business men, content creators that I look up to, seem to start their day with this practice and appraise its benefits. They are so right to do so! Those are the kind of careers or paths that can easily be overwhelming,
That’s the main reason why I started meditating, and I can assure you that it works. I even manage to work sometimes without any music or entertainment around. And the more I meditate, the more focusing becomes effortless.
I paid my dues for this one! Being aware of your inner voices the good ones AND the bad ones, helps you be more present and able to make different choices. The goal is to take wisdom from the past to commit to what’s happening in the present. Being self-aware also helps you choose carefully what you want to spend your energy on. Making you more immune to pointless arguments, gossips, critics and overall negative time-wasters.
Self-love and confidence
I am usually hard on myself, and the people that are very close to me because I expect the best from me and from them. Most of the times that’s what pushes me further, but sometimes it’s exhausting and energy consuming. With meditation I am learning to be productive and push myself from a place of love instead of the internal military bootcamp I’ve been inflicting on myself. Consequently, self-love induces more confidence and self-esteem and we never have enough of that. I also learnt to embrace my imperfections instead of trying to constantly fix them.
Anxiety is the downside of thinking too much about the future, and I am guilty of that! To the point that sometimes even the simplest tasks seem dreadful. Meditation helps me have the mental clarity to be less anxious, clear my mind and reduce stress.
I’ve never slept better than when I meditated right before bed. Even now, my sleep is deeper and less interrupted. I end up feeling more energised and productive in the morning.
I am still waiting for this one to be honest, I must be one of the most forgetful people in the world after my husband. What a pair!
Tips to establish a daily meditation practice
When I went through my mini-depression, the first thing I did was…. googling it of course! I didn’t find many articles about this particular symptom, at least not helpful ones. So I started asking around and one of my readers, who’s originally from India mother country of yoga and meditation, gave me the best tip that can be! I still do it even if my depression is far behind me, so I will start with this one.
Golden tip: Journaling
The daily gratitude and bullet proof journaling techniques aside, my Instagram friend advised me to write down my thoughts and concerns on a journal right after my meditation session. This tip is gold, writing things down is magical. I felt like letting go of those thoughts each time I write them, transferring all my pain into that piece of paper. It also organises those unhappy thoughts, putting words into them made me understand exactly what I need to work on, or how I really felt about certain situations. Replacing the hazy cloud of confused negative thoughts inside my head. It sometimes made me realise that it was not that big deal after all. In a word, it gave me clarity and some distance to evaluate the situation properly. This is a golden tip, thank you so much if you read this article!
Meditate first thing in the morning
… if you can. I didn’t! My morning routine was full enough. But if I was in an office job, I would probably add it to my morning routine or do it on my lunch break in a locked meeting room. Practicing first thing in morning will release you from this duty and make you benefit from your practice to be more productive during your day. I personally did the opposite, I started by practicing right before bed to help me relax and take a pause from my laptop. I stopped when I fell asleep during my practice two days in a row. It probably meant that I finally embraced the relaxing benefits of meditation.
Be gentle with yourself and don’t judge your practice
This one was my biggest struggles. I somehow believed that if I don’t manage to completely shut down my thoughts, I was failing in my meditation practice. Well that’s far from true and I know now that it’s simply impossible to completely shut down my mind, unless I’m dead. The guided meditation helps a lot with this self-consciousness, it keeps reminding you that it’s okay if your mind wanders, that it’s perfectly natural and how to refocus.
Integrate meditation into your daily activities
If you start with an app, it will guide you through it. Meditating does not necessarily require you sitting in a lotus pose wearing harem pants in a Urban Outfitters decorated corner. Well that’s the best case scenario, but not the only one. You can actually meditate while you walk, run, at the beach, in the train during your commute, or right before sleep lying in your bed. It’s part of being flexible and gentle with yourself, find a way to integrate meditation to your life in any way you see fit. You can always adjust later. Focus on nothing else but having that daily date with yourself.
Set yourself a challenge
This is what worked for me. I set myself A two weeks daily challenge where I just did it and then decided after if I would continue. Setting a timeframe will avoid procrastination. Take it as an experiment and be curious, notice how your practice affects you. Then decide for yourself. Being mindlessly consistent will help you make a habit out of it. It helps if you practice at the same time in the same place everyday at first. Don’t beat yourself up too much about missing a day. You can still start over the day after.
Use an app
An app like Pause will guide you through your practice, you just have to dedicate those few minutes to it and let the app do all the work. It’s your daily date with yourself. Pause send me gentle notifications to remind me to take those few minutes. I love how the tone is absolutely non-accusatory. Sometimes just asking you how are you feeling? Or sending an inspirational quote.
That’s it my friends, my full review and experience. I am no expert but this is a genuine review. I would love it if you try it and share your insights with me. Now that I tried it, I think it’s a necessary remedy to our hectic lives. Let’s embrace this amazing habit together and integrate more mindfulness into our lives!
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xo xo Dalal
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