Meditation is something I have a complicated relationship with. You could say I've got commitment issues. I started meditating around five years ago, while I was still in university. Ten minutes a day, every day. It almost formed a habit, but then I stopped. Then a year later, I picked it up again, and stopped shortly after. That cycle repeated year after year until 2015 when I had an over 200 day streak for meditation. I actually noticed some benefits. I felt less stressed, even though my external sources of stress remained the same. I was better at handling difficult situations and I was overall mentally quicker.
Then I went to Europe for a week in 2016, and stopped. I didn't really notice much of a difference. I even planned to start again when I came back home. But I didn't. I'd broken the habit ten days in a row, and that was the last time I had a consistent meditation habit. Almost exactly a year ago. I'd done it on and off since then in an attempt to restart the habit, but it's hard.
The thing is, I know there are a lot of benefits and it's directly linked to a reduction in stress and several other benefits. I'm no expert on it, and I probably never will be much more than a practitioner, but I do know that you too can get a lot of benefit from just sitting still for ten minutes every day. Really it's that easy.
The flavour of meditation I practice is called mindfulness. It's been in the news a lot as everyone from the military to elementary school is picking up on it for its simplicity and benefits. Mindfulness is the practice of awareness. Awareness of everything around you, especially your thoughts. Sometimes when we're not paying attention, bad thoughts sneak up on us and begin to swirl and grow inside our heads which can lead to all sorts of things from stress to depression to anxiety. It all happens inside your head and if you can recognize bad thoughts, there's a good chance you can get rid of them. It's as simple as recognizing a bad thought, and labeling it as a bad thought (literally noting in your head "that's a bad thought, I'm going to ignore it") and letting it drift away.
The best guide I've ever had on meditation is the app called Headspace. Go check the app's free 1 week trial out. It walks you through mindfulness in such simple steps, and it progresses and allows you to grow as your practice grows. Easily the best beginner's resource.
Mindfulness has helped me in the past, and I intend to bring it back into my life. So I'm going to challenge myself to meditating every day in May. In each post in May, I'll add a picture of my calendar with my progress. I'll put an X on every day that I meditate for a minimum of ten minutes in the month. By the end of the month, I should be close to reforming the habit, and I should see benefits. This is all part of The Process; building good habits and understanding your body and mind are important for living well.
I encourage you to join me, and get in contact here or on Twitter (@JonEHBurton). Good luck!