100 Days of Meditation
At the dawn of the new year, I set out with the goal to meditate for 100 days straight. As an on and off meditator, my consistency had been shot since the previous spring when my record streak was around 74 days. The simple act of sitting still for a period of time each day does not seem like such a big deal, but the level of intrigue around the act and resultant effects would deem it otherwise. To have it be perceived as inspirational is a further support that it’s something worth talking about.
I recently talked more about the journey and the strategies I used to stick to the plan for the 100-day challenge. These strategies can be applied to virtually any goal that you dream of attaining and are valuable to study.
Blogging about the journey became a form of accountability for me that also is highly valuable when it comes to working on habits and goals.
The most recent blog post about the meditation journey looked at how I surpassed my previous streak and kept the streak going so today let's shift the topic to what the results of the meditation challenge were.
There are all kinds of studies on the values of meditation and mindfulness, but science is pretty much only useful on an individual basis if you can feel the effects and therefore convince yourself that a good habit is actually worth sticking to.
Learning to Focus Better
Focus and concentration are incredibly valuable for completing meaningful work and advancing your skill in whatever your passion or job is. To focus well on a single task gives you a major advantage over the mass of distracted workers and allows you to access your full potential when performing in sports, music, or any other passion. Most people don’t recognize when their attention has veered off and meditation can help coach your brain to better recognize distraction and refocus attention. While I have been studying flow for many years now and can recognize when I’ve reached a flow state or intense focus quite well, meditation as a practice always facilitates this state of mind for me. The more I practice meditating, the easier it is for me to avoid distractions and the temptations to perhaps check my news feed or email one more time when I should be doing deep work.
We all can value from more focus and I believe that learning to focus and clear your mind is a critical tool for maximizing sports performance, a sentiment that is resonated by many of the worlds best sports psychologists. I’ve noticed that because achieving flow is easier the more I meditate, I’m able to get into the state in situations I previously wouldn’t have been able to in and use it to maximize my training and sports performance.
Mood and Stress Reduction
One of the most physically recognizable benefits of meditation is what it can do for improving your mood and helping to counteract the sensations of stress. Stress and negative mood states are usually the results of perseverating on something upsetting that has happened. You can’t snap out of it and so your brain keeps circling the drain of misery waiting to take the plunge into catastrophe. Feelings of hopelessness or stressing out so bad you feel like your hair is on end is never a good thing.
Meditation offers a respite from those downward spirals. It resets your state and the more you practice the more you learn to see positive or negative emotions for what they are, labelling, but not holding onto them. This letting go is the key to the reset that shifts your perspective anew.
I tend to stress about things a lot and let anxiety get the best of me and so this has probably been the most valuable thing that reminds me why I should always include meditation on a daily basis. I have noticed how stress can overwhelm me during times I’m not meditating on a daily basis and while it’s hard to sometimes remember those important habits we do when we’re in the thick of it, the more that it gets practiced and the benefits are reinforced, the more likely it is to stick.
What Changes Now?
Not much really, I used the Muse headband to monitor my progress for the 100 day challenge and now that I’ve reached that number I’m going to let it stand as the record on the app and explore different types of meditation more and not depend on an app to coach me on when I’m ‘doing it right.’ Different meditation styles and guided meditations going into the mix will be interesting new challenges. I feel this might be valuable because it’s sometimes easy to rely too much on Muse and have it coach you to stay on track, which becomes a crutch. I’ve also experienced that it’s possible to trick Muse and have solid meditation sessions quantifiably while still letting the mind chatter by focusing hard enough on tuning the parts of the brain that Muse detects to think you are in a perfectly calm state. Hard to explain, but fascinating to think about.