On my never ending quest to not be a miserable headcase, I’ve tried many things. Due to my ‘can-do’ attitude and general stubbornness, when I try something I go all out for the taste.
So, I took up mindfulness meditation.
I got an app (Calm), and goddamnit I meditated the shit out of it. Every single morning I would sit for 10 minutes, breathe deeply, try to let thoughts come and go.
Rewind two years – I tried meditation with an app called Headspace, which was also very good but perhaps I wasn’t in the right frame of mind because sitting there concentrating on my breathing just gave me panic attacks.
But now? Hoo boy, I had this thing nailed.
711 meditation sessions.
A total of 124 hours and 30 minutes sat meditating.
Longest unbroken streak? 358 days.
But at the end of it, was I any Calmer? Was I any happier? Was I any less distracted, anxious and fearful of real life? Was the skinny dog tethered in the rain that lives in my head howling any quieter? No.
Why did I stop meditating? Because I got it wrong. I took meditating as something you have to do as part of your daily routine, part of your checklist of ‘I’m doing the right things’, the natural anticipation being that checking these boxes results in an outcome you’re intending. Life, largely, doesn’t work that way.
In making meditation a required daily activity, I robbed it of its meaning. I emailed Calm support and their very prompt and kind response was along the lines of “why not try not being a dickhead and boasting about your meditation stats like it’s fantasy football, and just use meditation as a tool when you need it?”.
So I stopped meditating every morning, and I don’t feel any the worse for it, in fact I likely feel slightly better because I don’t feel like I’m failing to get the benefits of meditation.
And I’ve saved £30/year in app subscriptions.