September Mind + Body Challenge: Meditate Daily
Goal for this challenge
Practice meditation for 10 minutes daily. I will use Headspace to keep track.
I didn’t keep track of meditating daily like I set out to do. As with most other monthly challenge, I started strong at the beginning but lost interest after a week. It became clear that meditation (through an app, anyway) added stress to my day. This realization came to me at work one day while listening to the Note to Self podcast. I mostly listen to music at work, but I like podcasts to entertain me while performing my more menial tasks. This podcast talked about how our smartphone obsession causes stress and that we’ve forgotten how to be bored, which leads to less creativity. This piqued my interest in spending more time off screens. This also made it clear that meditation through an app caused more anxiety than it relieved.
In my effort to de-stress, I decided to try some of the techniques they suggested. First, I retooled my phone so it works for me instead of me working for it. The podcast talked about how notifications make you feel like you have to click on things when you probably don’t need to. They suggest shutting off all notifications that aren’t directly from people, which I did years ago because all the notifications stress me out. The only apps I receive notifications from are messaging apps (texts, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger). Next, they suggest moving the time waster apps onto a second screen and put the apps that I need and/or enjoy spending time with (maps, calendar, weather, Kindle, Spotify, podcasts etc.) on my front screen. Additionally, they said to access the time waster apps by searching for them by name because (they theorize) I would access less often. Finally, they said to install an app called Moment, which tracks phone habits and time spent in apps, on my phone. I admit that adding another app seemed this seemed counterproductive, but I was curious, so I did it. The average American spends five hours+ a day on their phone. After looking at Moment’s stats, I was relieved that I only spend about an hour on my phone. (I should install a similar application on my computer(s) to see where I spend time.)
Note to Self also suggested removing social media apps altogether. I did this (and logged out of desktop versions) for a few months in grad school. During that time I found that Facebook brings me no joy—it makes me unhappy and stressed—so I basically quit using it and deleted it from my phone. Similarly, I realized that although I do enjoy Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, some of the accounts I followed (including people I know IRL) make me unhappy or anxious. I unfollowed these accounts, which primarily consisted of people who post mostly food or fitness content (irony!). Now I login to Facebook a few times a week to check notifications for events or for posts in which I’m tagged. Initially I was worried when I quit logging into Facebook that I would lose touch with my friends. Instead, I found that the people I care about most find ways to talk to me outside of Facebook (including snail mail!). I would delete my account, but I enjoy Facebook events and messenger. Sometimes I miss things friends/family post on Facebook that I wish I had known about, but overall I’m happy with not using it.
Eh, so I guess I’m less stressed?
This recap got way off track. I guess the result of this challenge is that I didn’t find calm through meditation, but I started to find it in the month of September. I am still rather busy (and behind in both my jobs) but I no longer feel like a stressed-out ping-pong ball.