In May this year myself and my husband, James, decided to take part in Mindful in May together. After watching the movie ‘The Connection’ (seriously watch it … it’s amazing) we were inspired to kick start a regular meditation practice. 10 minutes of meditation every day with the support of the daily Mindful in May emails, audio and video, plus social media posts seemed like a good place to start (and we’d be raising money for charity while we were at it).
Mindful in May built on my prior experience of mediation, as part of my yoga practice, as well as an eight week mindfulness course with Cool Karma Collected which I completed in 2014. I was successful in being able to meditate for at least 10 minutes every day, only missing two days and James only missed a couple more.
It really was great to have a partner to meditate with during the month as we supported and encouraged each other. I certainly felt the benefits of taking the time to sit and be EVERY DAY, particularly with two young children taking up a lot of time and energy. While I haven’t been able to keep up my daily practice I certainly sit at least twice a week and I feel that I’ve brought mindfulness even more into my daily life.
So I was interested in how an almost complete newbie meditator found the experience, whether there are any tips or insights that might help others new to meditation and whether he will be continuing to practice?
What was your meditation experience before you started Mindful in May?
Not much. I did a couple of meditation practices in high school, so once or twice a year over a few years and nothing since.
What was the most difficult part of the meditation practice or what obstacles did you need to overcome?
Actually doing it every day. I would realise it was the end of day, I was tired and I hadn’t done my meditation yet. Sometimes I just couldn’t be bothered. It was often difficult to find the energy to do it but once I had done it I was always glad. What helped was spurring each other on.
What were typical thoughts, feelings or sensations that you noticed during your practice?
I can’t remember specific feelings or sensations but I noticed general mind-wandering thoughts that happen during every minute of the day.
What tools did you find most useful to keep you focussed?
Breathing. I found the mindfulness of breath meditations the most accessible and particularly liked to be left in silence for a while and then guided back to breath every few minutes.
What was your biggest learning from the practice?
Meditation is more accessible than I thought. When you don’t practice and you know nothing about it you don’t know where to start.
I also found that starting with 10 minute meditations meant I was much more likely to stick with it. Understanding that there is no right or wrong meditation was also a great insight. Some days were calm and some were more difficult but the most important thing is doing it and giving it a crack.
Did you notice any benefits from meditating every day?
I noticed that I could focus more quickly and calm my mind faster on the whole. So I think I became better at meditating throughout the 30 day period. Plus, I felt calmer during the day when not meditating. I noticed that I have missed the practice when I am not doing it as much.
How are you going to ensure that you continue a meditation practice following the end of Mindful in May?
Just do it. Try to meditate at least twice a week. Now I have the tools and know meditating is not that hard, whenever I have a spare 10 minutes I can do it where I am.
What are your top tips for starting a practice for other people that may be new to it?
Stick to short meditations of no more than 10 minutes. Try a few different guided meditations and find some that you like and resonate with you and do them often. Don’t do long ones and keep it simple when starting off.
Any final thoughts?
I gave the 30 day challenge a go and enjoyed it and would like to continue meditation in future. Probably not a daily practice but as often as I can. It’s great to calm the mind.