Those who follow me on social media may have noticed that I have been posting quotes on my social media stories from the Calm app in the mornings. You’re probably wondering wtf right? Or better yet, is meditation really all that it’s cracked up to be? Well, here are some of my thoughts on it.
I initially became interested in the idea of meditation in high school when I started having a higher level of stress from taking college courses my junior year as a part of a post-secondary enrollment program, stepping up my volleyball game, and was dealing with the stressors of graduating, trying to figure out which colleges to apply to, prom, and all the other wonderful post-high school bullshit every teenager deals with. I tried yoga in high school as a part of my volleyball training, but was unable to do it due to some extensive back injuries. I didn’t mind though, as I viewed it as nothing more than a glorified stretch anyway. When talking with my mom about it, who is a licensed physical therapist, she told me the highest levels of health benefits in research come mainly from meditation, and that that might be something I should consider. Seeing as I was already on a maximum of four hours of sleep a night, training twice a day and trying to graduate with an associates degree, I quickly shoved the possibility of incorporating meditation into my daily routine aside. “I’ll try it later when I have more time,” I told myself.
College at The Ohio State University was without a doubt a few the most intense years of my life. I won’t get into all the gory details, just know I made it out alive as we all somehow do. Once the realization hit me that I’d no longer be in classes or training after graduation, I decided to start doing some of the things I always wanted to try but never actually got around to doing; one of them being meditation.
I first heard about the Calm app through a photographer who said to me on the way to a shoot, “Did you hear about the app that’s reading bedtime stories to people?” I first thought, what?! Who would want to have their phone read stories to them? That’s crazy. But also genius…how did I not think of that? As word started to spread, I did some research and discovered it was a mediation app and thought I would give it a try.
Waking up one morning and ready to try the new meditation app for the first time I thought, well shit If I’m going to do this, let’s go all out, get boujee with it and see what all the fuss is about. I opened up the curtains in front of the window, pulled out the cushion from a giant lounge chair, and set it on the ground. Crossing my legs, I scrolled through the various free-trial options, selected one of the first that caught my attention, and closed my eyes.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the duration of the sessions ran 10 to 15 minutes long and quickly realized I wouldn’t need to devote an extensive amount of time every day to meditate. “I only need 10-15 minutes? Solid. I can do this,” I thought.
After going through the first guided session, I realized a few very important things. One, my seated posture was no where near as good as I thought it was, (despite having really good standing posture), and really focusing the mind on one specific thing is so much harder than I thought it would be. Think about it, when was the last time you were able to have complete tunnel vision on one specific thing and your mind not stray from it? Not for food, a bathroom break, to think about the itch on the side of your leg, or how your shoes are tied slightly too tight for your feet? It’s not easy.
I also realized that my breathing was really kind of bizarre. Shaky, uneven, and shallow, I never thought I would feel self-conscious about something as simple as breathing, but here I am judging myself hardcore. Then I thought, “Wait, this isn’t the point of meditation. Just shut up and focus on breathing like the app is instructing you to,” I berated myself. After what felt like just a few more seconds of trying to do absolutely nothing but focus on the air filling up and escaping my lungs, suddenly the session ended, and I opened my eyes. This might sound crazy, but I swear I never felt more relaxed than I did sitting in that cross-legged position in the middle of the living room floor on a couch cushion. In that same moment, my mood flipped to one of pure excitement.
“I did it, I just had my first meditation session!” I squealed. Laugh at me all you want, but I was pretty damn proud of myself for finally setting the time aside to do something I had been wanting to do for years, focus on my mental health and do something out of my comfort zone. Just as soon as that excitement came however, it seemingly dissipated just as fast.
“Well…what now?” I wondered. How am I going to feel from now on? How long until I start seeing or feeling the ‘amazing’ benefits of meditation?” I thought to myself. Then I realized this wasn’t some prescribed medication, and that mental focus, clarity and the improvement of the mind-body connection is not something that I would feel shift right away like a dose of medication. It is something that would take extensive time and practice. It was then that I decided to start my days with 10 to 15 minutes of working through that shallow, awkward breathing, and trust the process that would gradually unfold – whatever that might look like.
You might be wondering, “well, how do you feel now after having done it for a couple of months now? The truth is, I began to feel the effects of meditation from the first time I tried it. Despite it being really awkward and hard to focus, I noticed that I was generally (I hate to say it) calmer throughout the day, and did not feel as in a rush to get things done. Every day since, that feeling has increased gradually over time, and I find that the days I start with meditation end up being better days than those I do not. I will admit, there are times where I’ll go a day or a few days in a row without meditating. Do I beat myself up for it? Hell no. I just make sure that I do my best to get back on track and keep making my health my top priority as everyone should. It is also not to say that every day now I am suddenly completely at ease, because that could not be farther from the truth. I still have my emotional rollercoaster days and moments of self-doubt. Meditation hasn’t taken that away, it’s taught me how to redirect my focus to help myself during those times.
If you are someone who has considered meditation but have yet to pull the trigger on doing so, I highly highly encourage it. I really hope that reading this will allow you to get the perspective of someone who tried it and give you the boost of confidence you might need to try something new. When you do, please reach out to me on any of my social media handles posted below and let me know your thoughts!
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