Do you meditate? You should.
Why? It’s easy. It’s easy and it’s good for you. How often do you see that? You don’t. How easy is it? Well, it pretty much consists of doing nothing. You do have to breathe. So, there’s that.
It’s March 13th and we’re getting pounded by our 3rd snow storm in 2 weeks, and I’m depressed. You may say “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”. And to that I would reply, “go…,” Well, never mind. Deep breath.
Take a Deep Breath
Speaking of deep breaths, I’ve decided to challenge myself to 30 days where I meditate for at least 5 minutes a day.
Meditation sounds like hippy dippy foo foo trendy nonsense, and it may be, but it works for me. I know from experience that it is one tool that I can use to ward off my blues. It may be just a placebo effect, but I have no problem with placebo effect, if it works. There actually is a good amount of research that shows that it does a lot more than that, and there’s also the fact that millions, if not billions of people have practiced meditation for thousands of years.
Meditation sounds like hippy dippy foo foo trendy nonsense
Cardio for the Brain
I find meditation helps me kind of like doing cardio for the brain. It conditions my brain to think more productively, kind like jogging conditions your body. If you jog regularly, it should condition your body to be able to walk up stairs without passing out from over exertion. When I meditate regularly, I feel like I have more focus and I get less fatigued by my daily challenges.
Change the Default Settings
My brain likes to constantly over analyze, second guess, and worry about a myriad of things. It’s not fun and I think it is responsible for the lack of energy I’ve been experiencing lately. Meditation helps me deal with negative thoughts and feelings, which for some reason seem to be what I came out of the factory with as default settings. Examples of these negative thoughts and feelings include worrying, anxiety, lethargy, and a general feeling that my life is pointless and has no meaning. I could just blame it on the weather, but there’s nothing I can actually do about that, so I’m going to do just a little bit more than nothing, and meditate.
I could just blame it on the weather, but there’s nothing I can actually do about that, so I’m going to do just a little bit more than nothing, and meditate.
I’ve found that meditation is most effective when practiced consistently. So, I’m going to step up my meditation regimen to try and better cope with the rest of winter.
I’m going to gather some baseline measurements on my mental well being today by taking some tests. Then, I’m going to meditate consistently everyday at least once for a minimum of 5 minutes, and then retake the same tests every week over the challenge to see if I can document any results. This will include:
Blood Pressure: Blood Pressure changes throughout the day for a variety reasons and this will have no real scientific value but I’m interested to see if it changes at all. I’m going to try to take it Friday afternoon every week after work at the same CVS . I actually took this reading last Friday.
GAD 7 Generalized Anxiety Disorder Screen: a standardized test to screen for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Phq-9 Patient Depression Questionnaire: a standard test to measure depression.
I’m using standardized tests that I found online to quantify results over the duration of this test. This is all stuff I spent a very minimal time googling. If you confuse this for medical advice or anything else factual or relevant, then you need more help than you’re going to find on a blog. #Disclaimer
As far as my actual meditation practice, I am going to do the following:
1) Set a timer on my iPhone for 5 minutes.
2) Sit “Indian Style”, and close my eyes.
3) Focus on my breath and be mindful of what is going on in my body.
4) When I notice that my mind has drifted off, I will acknowledge that it has done so, but I will not try to push the thoughts out, and then try to again refocus my awareness back to my breathing.
5) When the iPhone timer goes off, I will open my eyes, and go on with the rest of my day.
Prior to this post, I wrote a 1500 word rant on meditation. I went back and read it all and it annoyed me. I’ll hopefully trim down some of that dissertation and find some useful ideas in there to share over the next few weeks. You’re welcome for not posting the rest of that self important droning.
I’ll use the following table to track my progress and hopefully I’ll stick to this challenge for the allotted 30 days, also using my “30 Day Meditation Challenge” sheet, which is hanging on my refrigerator, to help remind me to do nothing for at least 5 minutes a day. I hope you enjoy reading about it!
|Baseline||Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4|
|PHQ-9 Depression Score||9 (Mild Depression)|
|GAD-7 Anxiety Score||10 (Moderate Anxiety)|