April 27, 2021

Starting My Day With Meditation



For the past few months, I have started each day with a 10 minute period of meditation. I know...kinda New Age, isn't it, Bob? Do you wear a tie-dyed shirt? Well, no to both, and I don't chant a mantra, pinch the ends of my fingers together, or raise my palms toward heaven, although those are completely acceptable ways to help one focus.  For me, I sit comfortably on a sofa and use a very 21st-century app on my phone to give me both encouragement and a timer.

Why you may ask, do I feel the need to meditate? Is it Covid overload? Am I feeling out of sorts? Maybe a little of both, but it is more a desire to increase my appreciation of what I do have and to spend less time worrying about the past or obsessing over the future.

My app version has no spiritual overtones. Rather,  each day it is a brief time to quiet my mind and focus on something like my breathing. If thoughts intrude, like they do, then I am to acknowledge them, and then let them go while returning to a concentration on the breathing.

In the last few moments, I shift my focus to everything around me: sounds from inside and outside the house, creaks of a house waking up, feelings or sensations in my body...anything that is happening right now, in the moment. After ten minutes, I open my eyes and resume my day.

What does this short break do for me? There is a sense of calm and being in control of my thoughts and environment. While I will do plenty of worrying and stressing during the day, meditation allows me to start with a fresh slate.

During the day, if I find myself in a thought loop of past or future that isn't productive, I can stop, breathe for a few minutes with my eyes closed, and gain control again. What is happening in the present comes back into the forefront. 

Until I read a few books and articles on the benefits of this practice I didn't understand its potential impact. From a source as well-respected as the Mayo Clinic comes this summary:

  1. Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations.
  2. Building skills to manage your stress.
  3. Increasing self-awareness.
  4. Focusing on the present.
  5. Reducing negative emotions.
  6. Increasing imagination and creativity.
  7. Increasing patience and tolerance.

Honestly, I am not expecting ten minutes every morning will do all this for me. I am a pretty stable, optimistic person who doesn't spend much time agonizing about the past or stressing over a future I can't predict, much less control. But, I do not grab as much as I could from each day of living. Too much is on automatic pilot; too many sensations and appreciations are left on the table.

After just nine or ten weeks of my new morning routine, I can sense a difference, at least some of the time. I actually hear all the different bird songs in the backyard. The music on as a background during the day may suddenly jump to the foreground; I am really listening to the notes and melody. Sensations, like feeling a little hungry, thirsty, or needing to get up from a chair, are stronger I don't ignore them but focus on the need to react or dismiss them.

Beginning my day with this ten-minute focus has become a habit that I expect to continue. 


20 comments:

  1. Can you share the name of the app that you use? Thank you.

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    1. It is Medito. I found a version for my Android phone, and I imagine there is also one for Apple products.

      I like the various categories, voices and lengths that are offered. Also, they are scheduled to release an updated version with more categories shortly.

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  2. I used to have a five minute meditation app on my phone that I often used between the time a nurse took my blood pressure and the doctor would come in and repeat taking it. He was often surprised at the difference and pleased to hear I could calm myself that way. I get tense when I drive so I'd use the app when I got to where I was going. Unfortunately, I had to take it off my phone---ran out of memory. I'll be getting a new phone is this summer and the app will go back on it. So, yes, meditation does work!

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    1. I have found I look forward to that 10 minute start each morning. It places me in the best mindset for the rest of the day.

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  3. Great stuff...Which app do you use to meditate ?

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    1. Medito...free with lots of different categories to match what you need.

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  4. Hi Bob! Good for you for starting to meditate! But I argue that those of us who don't mind being a bit unusual (call it new age, hippy, explorers, growth-minded, or progressives) have known about the benefits of meditating for many, many years now. It is only as more and more people are willing to learn and explore new and different healing methods, along with thousands of others who approach meditation from a scientific perspective, that it is everywhere now. Meditation (or "mindfulness training" as it is sometimes called to keep the overly religious satisfied) is now being taught in elementary schools, business settings and all sorts of establishments. Why? Because it works. There are SO many benefits to the practice that it really cannot be ignored. My husband and I have been meditating for 15 minutes every day (together) for 11 years now. While we don't always do it the same way (there are dozens of ways to practice) the value is overwhelmingly important to our lives. Thank you for being willing to try and then write about its addition to your life because I believe it is something that can truly help others live a more satisfying retirement! ~Kathy

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    1. I agree. It is firmly entrenched as a must-do right after breakfast and before any other daily activities. Betty and I sit side-by-by side on the sofa so we can both easily hear the very soothing voice we have settled on. 10 minutes seems to go by rather quickly.

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  5. I tend to be somewhat anxious and my therapist recommended meditation years back. It works well for me when I am consistent. I paid for Headspace for a while, but decided it was too expensive for my actual usage. I will check out your app...it sounds good!

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    1. I guess that at some point I won't need the support of an app. But, for now, I find the voice (we picked Will), the various topics of focus, and the timer helpful.

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  6. A great "tool" for your self-care toolbox. Meditation and Yoga are 2 things I drop in and drop out of doing. I really should get a routine going once and for all!

    Thank you for sharing.

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    1. My body doesn't bend the right way for yoga anymore but meditation works.

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  7. I practice meditation on a regular basis using various audio tools for same. I also find many repetitive activities are meditative, i.e. washing dishes, cutting grass, raking, walking, yoga. It's proven to be a good space for my head to be in.

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    1. I need to follow your lead and turn repetitive avtivities into a time of mindfulness. Thanks, Mona.

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  8. Ken and I have meditated together since 1972. We both took the Transcendental Meditation course (TM) which brought meditation into the mainstream,way back when and it’s a technique we continue to use.Some people follow a mantra or “sound” to go into meditation, as we do, some follow breath, and some listen to guided imagery . I feel any kind of meditation you do on a regular basis is a good thing! I find the REGULARITY is what brings th best benefits so we rarely miss our morning and evening routines. We appreciate the spirituality factor,too.. but meditation can also just be a good way to unwind and as you mention, enter into more “mindfulness” on a daily basis. Love to hear that you and Betty enjoy this together! I think the world would be a better place if MORE people meditated regularly!!

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    1. I am familiar with TM. It was a big deal around the time I was in college.

      The app we use counts the number of days we access it, which helps keep us motivated to use it every day. With several different categories available we will switch up the focus to keep things fresh. Finding 10 minutes each morning is simple once it becomes a habit.

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  9. Dear Madeline, a chapter - even just a few verses - of Scripture is a better way to start the morning.

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    1. I have always done both meditation AND spiritual reading every morning. I pray the rosary once a day also. All good.

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  10. I don't use formal meditation, but I find it important to take time in the morning to center myself. For me, that is most often through connection to nature -- going for an early morning walk, a spring-through-fall ritual of taking my first mug of tea outside and walking through the garden each morning. During my working years, when time for this kind of activity could be hard to come by, I opted to walk the mile to work each day rather than driving so that I could have time to calm my spirit and focus my mind before I jumped into the work day.

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    1. Centering yourself is a good way of putting it. It is amazing how many birds I hear in my backyard now that I am paying attention.

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