Recently, a friend challenged me to test out a meditation app, because I’m someone who does “mind health stuff.” Fair enough. The challenge was to commit ten minutes a day for ten days to the guided meditation through an app. Below is my experience:
Day 1 (Friday):
I was able to squeeze the first session in mid-morning, while my boss was away in meetings. I love that it’s done by a British guy. The accent is very soothing for me. The breathing exercises are good. For me, it helped me identify where I’m feeling discomfort in my body (ya know, the stuff we ignore because of stress and what not). The ten minutes went a lot faster than I expected. Overall I like it. I can definitely commit to it on weekdays but I can see weekends being harder.
Day 2 (Saturday):
I found time after taking a nap at my in-laws while they watched my son for a while. I don’t recommend doing the meditations around sleeping times, although they advise to do it first thing when you wake up. I found myself yawning and wanting to go back to sleep. Finding time on the weekend has been the biggest challenge so far. Sessions are easy and ten minutes goes fast. My breathing is markedly better afterwards, for at least a few hours, which I didn’t expect.
Day 3 (Sunday):
I did today’s session during my son’s nap. It was harder to stay focused because my cat kept nudging against me to pay attention to her. It was tricky to keep my breath while she’s bugging me. The breathing exercises are feeling more natural now. The exhalations are more like sighs than just breaths. I don’t know if that’s allowed, but it helps. The session began with a cool animation about letting intrusive or busying thoughts pass like cars on a highway rather than try to stop them altogether. I found that helpful imagery when I was going to bed later that evening.
Day 4 (Monday):
I did this session at my desk before anyone got into the office today. The breathing exercises are easier and I can slip into them more quickly than before. The counting also helps. I tend to wonder if this makes any difference at the time, but then after the session is over, I feel much better. My breath is deeper and clearer and I feel a bit more focused and in tune. I’m noticing improvement in my focus at the gym during my weight training. Being halfway through, I’m committed to the end of the ten day challenge, but not completely sold on whether I’ll keep up with a paid subscription afterward.
Day 5 (Tuesday):
I almost didn’t squeeze this session in. I’d slept miserably the night before and couldn’t give myself the time during the day to complete the session for fear I’d go past the point of no return. Exhaustion was very real so I saved the meditation until just before bed. Still my breath was shallow and I really struggled to complete it. But I got it done!
Day 6 (Wednesday):
I saved this for the afternoon out of necessity. The morning was more chaotic than I expected. It was much harder to get focused. I was also interrupted twice so not my best effort.
Day 7 (Thursday):
I had to squeeze this session in at the gym after my workout because I had a morning doctors appointment. It wasn’t ideal for a socially awkward individual such as myself to park myself on a bench in the hallway outside the workout area and do ten minutes of deep breathing. But I sucked it up and did it anyway. No one bothered me, although at one point I sensed someone was too close and had to open my eyes. Otherwise the sounds of people talking as they passed and the basketball game going on in the gym were just enough interesting background noise to keep me focused on the deep breathing. I didn’t think that would be the case so that was a pleasant surprise. Two more days to go.
Day 8 (Friday):
I had an unexpectedly busy day so I didn’t get to do this until after I had gotten home. I thought I might be able to sneak in ten minutes but my son and cats had other plans. I got to the 9:30 mark before my son completely interrupted me. The cat nibbling at my fingertips made it really difficult to truly focus so today ended up being a bit of a wash. A side note, though: I used one of the concentration techniques to calm myself down from an argument, which was a really sweet side effect.
Day 9 (Saturday):
I managed to find time in the morning for the session today. My son was with my husband at the grocery store so the house was quiet. I locked myself in the closet to keep nosy kitties at bay. Although I didn’t get complete quiet as they began howling and scratching outside the door. Still, it was enough to finish the exercise. I’m able to do the breathing well enough but I always lose count when the exercise calls for it. The ten minutes goes quickly still and, if I had time, I definitely could go longer.
Day 10 (Sunday):
I had to squeeze in the last day’s meditation while I was working on laundry. The white noise of the washer was good to keep the breathing exercises in rhythm. It was a bit harder to hear the instructions though. And again, the damn cats wouldn’t let me be. But I got it done.
Overall, I enjoyed the ten day challenge. It was helpful on ways I didn’t expect. The problem I had, which I knew from the beginning, was committing the time to it every day.
The exercises were great and the instructor was very calming. The only other problem is the subscription rate, which is nearly three times as much as the music service I use every day, and not just for ten minutes.
If I decide to keep up with it, I’ll probably find a less expensive program. But overall I’d recommend the practice of guided meditation.