30 Days of Meditation: The Results

After an extra 2 weeks of aging here at DreamBigStartSmall, the third instalment of our 3-part series on meditation is finally here, ready to be cracked open at your convenience. The series started with Why Meditate? Next was How to Meditate: A Beginner’s Guide.

For the past 30 days, meditation’s been the name of the game. Why? Because it’s a 30 day challenge. And that’s what we do round here. But also, to see if the benefits of meditation would hold up to scrutiny.

In this post, I’m going to answer 3 questions about said meditation challenge. Firstly, was meditation convenient? Second, did it actually work? And finally, is it something to continue doing?

The aim of this post is to give you an honest opinion about my experiences with meditation, to perhaps help you weigh up if it’s something for you.

So, without further ado, let’s go!

Was It Convenient?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Well, yes! And I’ll explain why.

Firstly, meditation is just so easy to fit into your routine. You don’t need tons of fancy equipment. You don’t need to carb up/get pumped/drive to the gym. You don’t need to shower, clean up/ recover mental strength afterwards. All you need is somewhere kinda comfy and quiet, plus your phone and headphones. And even the last two are optional.

So if you feel like meditating? You can! It doesn’t get simpler folks. You wake up, you roll out of bed, and you’re halfway there already.

Another reason why it’s so amazingly convenient is time. YOU choose how long you want to meditate for. 5 minutes. 7 minutes. 15 minutes. Even 1 minute. Who doesn’t have 1 minute? Apart from compulsive liars, pretty much everyone.

And it’s not like 1 minute of hill sprits with a weighted vest. It’s 1 minute of sitting down. Relaxing.

So yeah – super convenient, and super easy to fit into your routine. Morning, afternoon or evening. 30 seconds or 30 minutes. At home, out in nature, or in your office’s meditation parlour. (Google’s probably got those by now.)

Consider the convenience box ticked.

 

Did Meditation Work?

The big one. Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Setting out, I hoped to be swagged out in mental clarity; allowing me to see the big picture and boost focus. Be a jedi, basically.

With just 7 minutes of daily meditation, those boxes were ticked (still working on the jedi part though). How do I know this?

Well, I did meet my post-crimbo success criteria:

  1. Use holidays productively.
  2. Get some adventuring and other exercise in
  3. Enjoy ridiculously good home-cooking.
  4. Don’t get fat on aforementioned ridiculously good home-cooking.

On the productivity front, I really feel that meditation helped. Although completely anecdotal, I’d say this has been the most productive holidays to date. Which isn’t saying much, considering what I’m comparing it too, but I was happy with the results. Biographies got read. Exercise got done. Adventures got had. Assignments got written. Opportunities got tooken. Yes. Tooken.

Cool story bro.
Cool story bro.

I wouldn’t say that meditation turns you into a productivity beast. I would say, though, that it gives you a cheeky 10-20% productivity increase. Nay too bad at all.

Here’s the question, then. Why does meditation make you more productive?

From a scientific view, this wasn’t a very rigorous experiment – there was too many variables at play. For example, journaling, sleeping, exercising, eating. But to hell with scientific rigour.

Starting the day with a clear mind is huge. By taking a meditative step back, seeing a bigger picture, and identifying What’s Important Now, you set yourself up for success.

In combo with the journal i.e. writing daily goals and ideas down after meditation, this eliminated morning procrastination. And whilst the brain slowly gets clogged up over the day, your most important tasks are still prominently on display up top. So you at least know what you should be doing.

Actually doing those things? For me, if it’s not the morning, it’s anyone’s game. However, I would say that, more times than not, I do the things. I still had massive impromptu 24 marathons (24 hours of 24 = cliff-hanger overload), but hey. Wot evs, fam.

 

Meditation & The Lovely Law of Diminishing Returns

Interestingly, I feel that this 30 day challenge has only scratched the surface of meditation. Why? Because in the past 3 days, I’ve upped the ante and gone from 7 to 15 minutes of meditating. And holy smokes! What a difference!

I don’t know if I just love the 15 min soundtrack, but whatever it is, the difference is noticeable. Perhaps because you can spend more time in the zone, thus you have a clearer mind. Whatever it is… the feeling that you get after meditating is way, way more slap-in-the-face satisfying.

You get into the zone maybe 6 minutes in… Then after some intense concentration (everything’s relative, folks) , the soundtrack stops. You open your eyes… and ZAM! The world is BACK! And looking considerably more shiny and inviting than when you left it 15 minutes ago.

Of course, 3 days isn’t enough to give an opinion. Though I have felt more productive of late. (Considering this is into the 4th  hour of producing this post after a day of studying.) (And just like that, I’ve given an opinion.) Anyway, for something more concrete, I’ll report back in another 30 days.

What could be going on? I have a sneaking suspicion that this is the law of diminishing returns at play here. (see Fig. 1)

Like any self-respecting scientist, Paint's where it's at.
Figure 1: Like any self-respecting scientist, Paint’s where it’s at.

Another thing on “did it work?

With a nice empty head, it’s amazing how random thoughts just pop out of nowhere. It’s quite a lot of fun, actually. “Where the.. did that come from?!”

Also, interesting things and ideas from your subconscious mind just get raked up in the process. Ideas and thoughts that you’d forgotten about AGES ago, and then they just drift back into your consciousness. Just like that.

Meditation truly is a lucky dip into the subconscious.

 

Is Meditation Something To Continue?

If you want rigorous science, consult Fig. 1. If not.. then yeah. It’s super convenient, incredibly easy to fit into a morning routine, plus the benefits.

I’m particularly intrigued as to the benefits of longer meditation, and how or if, it will play nicely with university coursework.

But I think the biggest reason I’ll definitely continue it is that meditation makes it easier to know yourself.

With all the flotsam from the outside world removed, I think you’re more tuned in to your core values, your flaws, and your heart’s desires, rather than what society expects of you. I suspect that long term meditation makes you stay true to yourself.

Knowing your values makes it easier, or maybe not easier, but makes you more receptive to making right decisions vs. easy decisions. And I do feel that our lives would “flow” more easily with regular meditation. “Flow”, in that you act on your ideas, identify your flaws and limiting beliefs, live to your own ideals, and ultimately know what you really want.

Put more simply, I honestly believe that meditation is one of the best guides to take us down the path of following our hearts.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else if the greatest accomplishment.”

And I wholeheartedly believe meditation is one of the greatest tools to show us the way.

As always, Dream Big Start Small.

Love y’all!

Iain


 

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photo credit: samurai via photopin (license)
photo credit: at Hotel Fazenda Estalagem via photopin (license)