The following is a guest blog post from John Michael Domingo, AKA Papa JM. To learn more about John Michael please visit his website, OneBrickADay.com.
At the time of this writing, I have meditated for a total of 217 sessions.
That’s 53 hours of meditation.
To you, it may seem like an eternally long time for a person to sit quietly in their room with their eyes closed. But this time alone is very important in improving your overall mood and clarity of thought.
How I Got Into Meditation
My interest in meditation was piqued a couple of years ago while sitting outside on my porch in college talking to my roommate.
He was telling me about something called “mindfulness” that he was reading about online.
He basically said that when people learn and practice mindfulness, daily activities can begin to take on a new meaning and feeling.
When we put all of our focus into the activity at hand, even something like washing the dishes, we begin to experience the world around us in a very different way.
Needless to say, I wanted to learn more, so I began doing my own research.
After reading on the subject of mindfulness, I realized that with phones, computers, tv’s and all the other inputs we have, most people go throughout their days without ever being present.
Think about it, have you ever driven somewhere and not remembered the ride at all?
Or scarfed down a meal while watching TV and realized that you didn’t even taste the food?
Or find yourself completely lost in thought while another person is trying to talk to you?
The more I read, the more I realized that I wasn’t mindful or present at all in my own life. My mind was always running, and multitasking and rushing were ruining my days.
After hearing Tim Ferriss talk about the mindfulness and meditation app Headspace, I figured I would give it a try.
Benefits I’ve Noticed
As I said, I’ve meditated for over 200 sessions over the past year and a half.
This averages out to a meditation session every couple days. In reality, I go through spurts where I meditate regularly for weeks at a time and then fall off when I let life start taking over.
I have certainly noticed differences in myself between my consistent meditation practices and when I fall off.
While my family and girlfriend might not know when I’m regularly meditating and when I’m not,I’m willing to bet they notice certain times when I’m more at ease than others.
The hardest part of implementing meditation into everyday life is being mindful of when you’re not being mindful.
A real catch 22, right?
The point of meditation is to be more mindful during your day because of the focused time away.
Unfortunately, we can get so caught up in daily life that we forget to be mindful!
This is why a consistent meditation practice is needed to continue refining and practicing the skill of mindfulness.
While I’m not walking around 24/7 in some zen-like state, I have seen some very tangible differences after making meditation a regular practice.
Here are the main benefits I’ve noticed from 0 to 50 hours of meditation:
- Much more calm in traffic - This is the very first thing I noticed after starting to meditate. I realized that getting angry won’t get me out of traffic quicker. Plus it’s a chance to sit and be mindful.
- Less judgmental - Also early in my meditation journey, I noticed that I was becoming better at not immediately judging people. While I used to immediately judge and label a new person, I now find myself saying “he/she is just doing their thing, let them be.” That stranger that I was judging probably has the same desires and struggles as me, if not more.
- Daily activities are more fun - When I am mindful, everyday situations become more enjoyable. Things like brushing my teeth, washing the dishes, drinking coffee, pouring a glass of water all become much more interesting and calming. Note: This is not always the case. There are certainly still times where I’m rushing around and don’t take the time to be present in these activities. There is room for improvement!
- Notice the sky and trees - When I regularly meditate, I notice the sky and trees more. I find myself spending more time looking up when I go outside then always staring down at my phone. Ask some of the guys from my college rugby team and they will tell you I became obsessed with clouds.
- More patience with circumstances and people - Things don’t seem as big of a deal when I’m regularly meditating. I will say that this is an area I’m not great at but have noticed significant improvement.
- Self-awareness of emotions - I can sometimes notice my emotions and actions from a third-person point of view which gives me more self-awareness. I will actually “see” myself getting frustrated or angry instead of being completely immersed in the feeling. Keyword there is “sometimes”, I’m still working on this as well.
- Ability to accept criticism better - Instead of feeling anger building up when someone gives me harsh feedback, I’m far better at accepting criticism and using it to improve.
- Walking - I’m more mindful of my connection to the ground when I walk. It sounds weird but I actually feel my feet and the weight of my body differently when I’m mindful during walking.
- Breathing - I’ve come to enjoy deep breathing throughout the day. I regularly will take laps around work solely to just breathe slowly using the 478 method.
- Gratitude for simple things - I’m more appreciative of little things throughout the day. There are so many things to be grateful for. From our food to a gentle breeze, we are surrounded by things we tend to take for granted.
- More mental space - When I regularly meditate, my thoughts aren’t always fighting each other. It feels like I have more clarity and space, more room for creativity. Note: When I’m not regularly meditating, and even when I am sometimes, this is still a huge area I need to improve on.
- Curiosity - When I’m present and not caught up in thoughts, I notice things in everyday life I’ve never noticed before and am more curious to explore them.
- Productivity - When I’m more mindful about my work, I seem to be better able to determine which tasks are most important and which aren’t urgent. When I’m not mindful, I feel like I’m running around like a chicken with its head cut off! This is another area that can use more work, but again I’ve seen great improvement.
These are the main benefits that come to mind from my time meditating but I’m sure there are others I’ve missed. Some of these benefits started even after my first 5 sessions.
Do I Recommend Meditation?
Yes, if it’s kept in its proper scope.
Meditation, to me at least, is a tool to help enjoy life, calm my brain, and create more space.
Just as a short nap gives me energy, meditation gives me a little more mental clarity.
Think of meditation as a way to train the brain just like when we train the body.
I’m not trying to tap into some higher power or another universe, I’m just simply more aware of my thoughts, emotions, and the world around me.
If you are someone with a mind that never shuts down or who rushes through life, I highly recommend trying some form of meditation.
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To learn more about John Michael and sign up for his blog, please visit his website, OneBrickADay.com.