Ahh, meditation. This one is a bit of a newcomer to my list of habits.
Meditation has, of course, been around for a long time, and while it might be shown as a bunch of hippie nonsense, it turns out that using focusing exercises, aka mindfulness, has has a lot of research around it in the area of productivity.
Sure, you still have those people that believe that meditating for 10 minutes a day will cure your cancer, but I’m talking about productivity here.
After listening to a couple different podcasts extolling the benefits of focusing exercises, and how it carves new neural pathways through your brain, I decided to give it a shot.
I download the Headspace app, and tried out it’s 10 day free trial, and I specifically used it at the end of my day job as I was transitioning into my writing job.
I have to say it helped. focusing on my breathing for those 10 minutes calmed me down from the day’s stresses, and gave me a solid separation between the different segments of life. Now if that is because of the meditation itself or just the fact that I focused really hard for ten minutes to forget about work and empty my mind, I’m not sure. Maybe a bit of both? Maybe they’re the same thing?
I can’t tell you if neural pathways have been carved, I’m sure when I die the autopsy will be riveting world news, but I can tell you that I would finish those 10 minute sessions, make coffee, and 12 minutes after finishing up my stressful day of work, I was diving into writing head-first for my 1300 words-per-day sessions.
My wife has also started using it as a way to clear her mind before bed. Personally, I haven’t gotten that far, partly because I like surfing the web and youtube right before bed. It’s relaxing, but gun to my head, it’s probably a better use of my time to follow her lead and meditate.
Just because it seems effective, doesn’t mean I’m sticking with it well. I fact, while I was very diligent for the first 15 days, I’ve gotten really spotty since. I still try to do my meditation before writing, but it does’t always happen, particularly when I’m already pretty relaxed, like on a weekend. I’ve also gotten into the habit of listening to Brain.fm or just a specific Writing Muzak playlist on iTunes. Either of those work great at getting my brain “into the zone” when I write, but the combined meditation and music while writing seems to get me into the zone faster.
So I need to keep working at it.