My new year’s resolution last year was to meditate every day this year, which in thirty-two years is the first resolution I can remember completing, and it feels pretty good. Meditation isn’t something that I mention much because I worry people will find it obnoxious. However, I do think it’s something that can help almost everyone, so now, under the cover of humble bragging, I’m going to talk a little about it.
I first began meditation around three years ago, during an acute bout of anxiety, when a therapist suggested it to me. I’ve fought the depression/anxiety demon for as long as I can remember, doing years of talk therapy and taking piles of medication. While those both worked in varying degrees, for me, mindfulness has been the closest thing to a silver bullet I’ve tried. (That's not to say those aren't valid treatment options, in high school they likely saved my life.) With regular meditation, I’ve found myself in much better control of my anxiety, and as a result, happier.
This also isn’t to say that you need to complete a year of daily meditation for positive effects. Before this year, I skipped days frequently, and during the year, not every day was what you would call “zen”. Most days I sat for five to ten minutes, but I also meditated for ten seconds with my eyes closed on the top of a mountain with someone talking to me, drunk and sitting on the floor next to my bed after waking in a panic realizing I’d forgotten, and while pushing a sleeping toddler in a stroller through disney world. All good, and the overall change in my life has always been positive.
Anyway, I’m carrying on a bit more than what my point needs. If you’re looking for a way to improve your life this year (it is the new year season after all), please consider trying a meditation practice. When I first started I found Headspace’s Take Ten program a good starting point, although I now use a different app (Insight Timer) to track my progress. I’d also recommend reading Mindfulness in Plain English (also free online here). I’ve read it a few times now, and every time I get more out of it. Also feel free to send me an email or tweet, it’s something I’m happy to talk to interested people about.
As a related aside, this year has inspired me to plan and work on software to promote more mindful use of technology, so keep an eye here in the coming months.