There are two ways to gain space: clearing it and expanding it. The main tool will be meditation. The goal is to gain mental space, grasp control of the space I have, and maximize what I can do with it.
Ever since I was in high school, dead set on getting into a good university, I have trained myself to always be doing something “productive”: reading an educational article, practicing my sport, planning for the future. After a decade of constantly thinking “productive”, I could feel the stress building. High expectations coupled with a demanding job eventually wear at the mind. I turned to ways to destress. Exercise, eating better (sometimes worse), and relaxation (vacation, massages, etc) all provided short-term relief. But inevitably the stress would creep back in. I had to find a more permanent, sustainable solution.
I recently learned from a guided meditation that you must allow yourself time to think about nothing. The time spent quieting your thoughts benefit your mind’s active hours. Just 10 minutes a day can supercharge those remaining 15 hrs and 50 minutes (note the healthy 8 hrs of sleep!), turning them into the equivalent of 17+ hrs.
The immediate feeling after coming out of a meditation speaks for itself. It’s like you’ve washed your mind in cold water. The constant static buzz of thoughts bouncing around in your skull has faded. Behind your main line thought, there is a refreshing quiet. It’s like you’ve hard reset your RAM and you’re only running core functions. Nothing like a clean Task Manager. CPU at 15%.
The long-term benefits of meditation remain to be seen. For one reason or another I have not stuck with meditation for more than two weeks at a time. I’ve heard the true benefits come after 3-4. That seems to be the tipping point between short-term clarity and long-term space. Therefore I am committing to three weeks of continuous meditation. For this habit to be achievable, I need a block of time each day picked out to meditate and a three-week, 10-minute meditation program to follow. Since my after-work schedule is erratic, regular meditation in the morning seems much more achievable. Wake up 10 minutes earlier. It also means going to sleep 10 minutes earlier. So wake up at 6:30 and sleep at 22:30. Not too hard right? I’ve picked out the 21 Days of Calm meditation program from the Calm app to follow.
So three commitments:
- Wake up at 6:30, sleep at 22:30 (set the Bedtime range in my phone)
- Meditate 10 minutes every day in the morning before work (set a daily Calm reminder)
- Follow the 21 Days of Calm program until the end
By the end, my hope is that I will have achieved this next level of mental quiet and serenity that many have talked about. I don’t expect to be a shaolin monk on the edge of enlightenment but I hope to feel not just mental but physical improvements. Increased clarity at work, ability to maintain focus, lower stress levels. Not just in my work but also in my relationships, I expect to see improvements in my mood, temperament, and optimism. I’m talking about meditation like it’s some miracle pill; but if I define lofty expectations – it might be exactly that.