In an attempt to not allow this beautiful city we call NYC to create an anxious monster (that I may have already started to become), I decided to try something new: meditation.
Celebrities swear by it, health magazines never stop promoting it, but it sounded ridiculous for someone like me to try. My brain is in constant overdrive. Either I’m thinking about everything I need to do for the day, (or week, or next few weeks…), worrying about something insignificant that happened a full year ago, or creating stories in my head of things that could possibly happen (usually the worst case scenarios). Therefore, since my brain never seems to just shut the f*ck up, I was sure that meditation was not for me.
But, ultimately I decided to try to prove myself wrong. My first goal was to use meditation as a way to stop myself from immediately opening all forms of social media upon waking up (don’t judge, you know you do it, too). Because realistically, why should I, or any of us, be filling our brains with everyone else’s thoughts/feelings, drama, news about our country, etc. first thing in the morning?
Unsure of my ability to accomplish this task on my own, I downloaded an app that had been recommended to me called Simple Habit. The app has an abundance of guided meditations for everyday life, like waking up, stress, commuting, going to bed — you name it, they have it. I knew I would need a guided meditation option if I was going to try this, mainly because my brain wouldn’t shut off and also because I really had no idea how to meditate.
I did this for five days straight, and here’s what went down.
I had to consciously remind myself not to open Instagram immediately when I woke up and before meditating. That struck a chord with me, like, I actually had to fight back hitting the app on my phone.
On my first day meditating, I had a tough day ahead of me as I was going to attend a funeral. I chose a 5-minute ‘waking up’ meditation, and it really helped calm my nerves about the day ahead, but also strangely made me feel much more awake. After meditating I didn’t really have the urge to scroll through social media, but rather got my day started right away (normally I would have laid in bed for 20 or more minutes just going through all my social media and emails).
Again, I had to stop myself from going straight to opening those emails that came in while I was sleeping. I had more time on this Sunday morning, so I chose a 10-minute ‘waking up’ meditation. One thing I noticed after meditating was that I felt way less tired afterward. I anticipated the calmness of the woman’s voice during the meditation would make me fall back asleep, but it actually made me more awake, aware, and prepared for the day ahead.
I also set an intention for my day during my meditation (this was prompted by the guide, and was very helpful). It was an intention I reminded myself of throughout the day if I started getting caught up in any negative thoughts, which is easy to do on a Sunday right before a new week.
Rather than doing a meditation right when I woke up, I saved it for later in the day (but actually didn’t even check social media/emails right when I got up, which was a new thing for me). Instead, I let myself just lay in bed and take in the day without checking anything. It was weird to just let myself have a moment with nothing to do but lay there.
Around noon, my landlord came to my apartment unannounced, got my dog all flustered and he started barking, all because he said my shower was leaking into the apartment below me. He has a way of pretending to ‘fix’ things, so this just annoyed the shit out of me because I was trying to get ready for work.
Once he left, I pulled out my yoga mat, plopped myself down, opened up Simple Habit and did a ‘stressed’ meditation for five minutes. Breathing out my frustration instead of carrying it with me for the rest of the day was extremely helpful, and it calmed my pup down — I mean, how can you be mad anymore when you open your eyes to this face?
Admittedly, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Being in the fetal position dying of cramps can do that to you. I chose to do an ‘improve mood’ meditation for five minutes. In that moment I wanted to say “Forget this, nothing will help.” But I tried it anyway, and was surprised when it actually switched my thinking around. The act of taking a moment to allow myself to just feel shitty and accept that this is how I woke up, but also make a goal to move forward on a more positive note made a big difference in the rest of my day.
I had a really busy Wednesday that started as soon as I rolled out of bed (without looking at Instagram, go me!). I was on the go and really had no time to just sit and think, so I decided to end my day with a ‘going to sleep’ meditation. My mind was still going a mile a minute, and normally I would scroll through and refresh social media to ‘relax’ my mind, which really isn’t now that I think about it. Doing a meditation before bed has become one of my favorite times to do it because it really detaches you from staying awake just to have your phone screen glaring back at you.
So, the major things that I took away from this:
1. I feel so much better waking up and just focusing on me rather than my Insta feed.
2. When I’m feeling really stressed, it’s okay to recognize those feelings. But then be sure to set intentions (or a mantra) to move on from it.
3. It made me very aware of my body and breathing — how tense I was, how I rarely take time to just ‘be’, and how little I actually take those much needed deep breaths.
Since starting, I’ve been making an effort to use Simple Habit in my day to day. Especially when I’m feeling anxious, it’s the first thing that comes to mind to help me rather than letting my feelings fester all day.
NYC is a great city, but it can also be an extremely negative and energy depriving place if you don’t find a way to balance the hustle and your mental health. So, get your zen on and try meditating, because this sh*t actually works.