Searching for ways to feel more present, I started meditating every day and committed to it for an entire month; daily meditation opened my eyes to just how much time we spend living in the past or the future and not the present.
Though meditation isn’t a new concept, “monk mode,” the practice of mimicking the behaviors of monks including reducing phone use and setting aside time to meditate, is growing in popularity and has more than 70 million views on TikTok.
The increased interest in meditation and mindfulness proves that more people are “starting to realize how important [their] minds are” after the pandemic and are desiring moments where they feel grounded in the present moment, according to Dominique Perkowski, a meditation coach, breathwork practitioner and founder of The Shift.
“I think just with how on we have to be all the time, with social media, emails, technology and everything calling for our attention,” Perkowski tells CNBC Make It, “people are really looking for more control over their mind, their focus [and] their very precious attention, so that they can focus more on the things that they want to focus on, the things that really matter to them.”
Additional benefits of meditating include stress reduction, lower levels of anxiety, better sleep and increased self-awareness, says Perkowski. The practice of meditation can also shift a person’s thinking from negative thoughts that feel too intense so they can move on from them, she adds.
To truly reap the benefits of meditation, Perkowski recommends prioritizing consistency over length. So for 30 days straight, I meditated for at least five minutes daily to see if I’d experience any positives changes to my overall wellbeing.
Here are my biggest takeaways.
1. Meditation can make it easier to get out of bed in the morning
As a “sleepyhead” who requires a lot of effort to get out of bed, meditating as soon as I woke up made my mornings much smoother. Using guided meditations on Spotify that encouraged breathwork and visualization, I found myself having more energy than usual at the start of my day.
The quick meditations shared mantras like “I am in control of the outcome of my day” or “Today can be a great day if I allow it be,” which gave me the confidence to truly believe that I was more in control of how my day would pan out. And according to Perkowski, “the consistency of meditation becomes a place where you really get to decide how you want to show up in the world.”
2. You can dismiss bad thoughts as quickly as they come
Let’s face it, our thoughts won’t always be sunshine and rainbows, but with meditation you can stop your negative thoughts from being on a loop all day. When bad memories from my past came up, or experiences that I felt anxious about in the near future clouded my mind, I turned to meditation.
Meditating daily helped me embrace the act of surrendering to what I couldn’t change. One guided meditation about letting go of future worries suggests visualizing the things you’re worried about as clouds in the sky; using deep breathing exercises, the meditation prompts you to imagine that as you breathe, the worries take up less and less space in your mind like clouds drifting away in the sky.
“As you let go of these worries, notice how the sky becomes clearer and more serene. Your mind is like this vast sky, capable of holding thoughts without being consumed by them,” the speaker said during the meditation.
3. Positive affirmations can change your perspective on things
For most of my life, I wasn’t really big on affirmations but meditations that included them were the ones I gravitated towards on my month-long journey. During emotionally tough times or very busy days, hearing from someone else that I was strong enough to get through anything or face any challenge thrown my way, helped me to believe it, too.
A few positive affirmations that have stuck with me from the meditations I’ve listened to are:
It started to make so much sense to me that therapists recommend starting your day with affirmations to boost your mood and start your day on the right foot.
Perhaps it’s time that we all think of meditation as a part of our mental hygiene, says Perkowski: “Meditation is like brushing your teeth, just for your mind,” she notes. “It’s a practice that you do during the day. You can do it for 10 to 15 minutes each day, and it just helps you reconnect to yourself.”
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