Trying Mindfulness Meditation for 30 days

2012-02-19

I have recently been introduced to mindfulness meditation. After doing some research on the internet I've found many studies that report positive results, many of which can be found here:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDcQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww-psych.stanford.edu%2F~pgoldin%2FBuddhism%2FMindfulnessMeditationSummary.doc&ei=AD3-Ts_FO5DKiAKosoWyDg&usg=AFQjCNGW3sJn-0NgjR2-FeszcSrW_jOjbg

I attempted to do 10 minutes of meditation everyday for 30 days and see if I noticed any benefits at the end of my trial.

I failed, but I did do 15 days and I did find some there is something to it.

I came into this with a lot skepticism, it seemed a little too mystical to make a difference in daily life but that's because I didn't realize what meditation was actually doing. Like working out in the gym conditions you to be stronger, meditating conditions you to be relaxed. I play poker frequently and am often put into a tough situation which makes me nervous. Being nervous is not good in game of probabilities because of something called emotional hijacking.

This is when the emotional part of the brain bypasses the rational part of the brain, which is good in situations such as being attacked by a bear and needing to flee immediately but not so good in situations where you need calculate odds, figure out the likely cards of your opponents, etc...

After a few days of meditation I realized I could quickly snap into a meditative state state and calm myself which in turn means I would likely make better decisions. So during that poker game in which I'm making a tough call, it helps me become more focused.

After this realization I became more enthusiastic about meditation as I could see how it could have a direct benefit in my life. After around day 9 I noticed I seemed to be more calm all the time. Just from staying in that state 10 minutes a day you are always a little bit closer to it and more relaxed, physically and mentally. Things like waiting in a long line at the grocery store aren't an annoyance but a chance to relax.

Close to day 12 the act of meditating itself began to change. I would get more visuals when my eyes were closed, lots of colors shifting around and weird imagery, which was pretty interesting. One time I felt like in front of me were infinitely smaller versions of me meditating and behind me were infinitely bigger versions, all sitting and meditating and in touch at the same time.

The reason I didn't make the original goal of 30 days is many of my sessions would be interrupted and a few days I just couldn't find time to do it at all. It should be mentioned I have a 2 year old daughter and a 2 month old son which caused much of the difficulty. If I lived alone I have little doubt doing 30 days would have been no problem. I was actually very surprised how hard it was to go just a 10 minute span without being interrupted by one thing or another.

Another reason I didn't make it is it's not the most fun thing to do. I would often put it off too late into the day when my daughter's nap time was over and interruption or just lack of time was more likely. Having said this, keeping disciplined and sticking with it definitely pays off, and even now that I haven't done it in a few weeks, I find it easier to snap back into a serene state whenever something upsets me, makes me nervous, or worries me, so there does seem to be lasting benefit even if not practiced regularly.

I plan to do it on a weekly basis instead of daily, but at some point I'd like to do it daily again for an extended period of time as I felt like I quit just when the experience was becoming more interesting.