Starting a Daily Meditation Practice

An effort to approach life calmly and get in touch with my thoughts

I started meditating in May. I was asked, “what’s something that you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet?” When I answered with “meditation,” I thought, “I should just start doing that today!” So I did, and I have every day since.

Meditation has helped me be more calm, mindful, and in touch with my thoughts and emotions. Here’s how I meditate and why I continue to.

Four panel comic of a person meditating
A comic about meditation I made not long after starting

I’m most familiar with meditation from David Lynch, who is a strong proponent of it. I read his book Catching the Big Fish a few years back, and I was quickly sold on the benefits of the practice. I tried doing meditating at the time, but I convinced myself I was doing it wrong and stopped.

When I decided to give meditation another go, I did a quick online search for “simple meditation practices.” I found one that seemed like a great place to start – a counting meditation. The person said to start at one and count on each exhale all the way up to ten and then start back at one. Simple enough.

My first meditation session was five minutes long, which felt like forever. My mind jumped from here to there to everywhere. I tried my best to stay focused on the counting and keep my mind at ease. It was difficult because my mind was so used to being constantly engaged or entertained. I hadn’t given it alone time in years.

I meditated again the next morning before I got my day started and went for another five minutes. It was a little easier.

A couple of my coworkers recommended an app called Headspace, so I downloaded and used it on the third day. It’s a pretty nifty app that has all sorts of guided meditations and information. It’s a nice app. I enjoyed using Headspace a few times, but I wasn’t interested in eventually paying for it. I decided to return to my counting meditation.

I gradually increase my meditation time by a minute every few weeks. I’m currently at ten minutes, which has been a rewarding challenge. I plan to continue to increase the time until I get to around 30 minutes. I’m also interested in meditating in the afternoon in addition to the morning. I’ll work my way there.

To be alone with my thoughts and better understand what’s on my mind has been invaluable. It has also helped me approach my day more calmly. I don’t get as worked up or frustrated. I think to myself, “keep it simple and steady.”

Some sessions can be very difficult, especially when I’m feeling stressed out about work. My thoughts bounce around like a pinball, with lights and sounds going off every few seconds. I keep counting though, and I try not exceed ten. I don’t always succeed, but I catch myself and start back at one.

The beautiful thing about meditating is that I’ve been able to do it at home but also when traveling. I don’t need anything to do it. There’s not a whole lot in life I can say that I can do anywhere at any time. Even when I’ve got a few minutes on the bus or around town, I’ll sit and do a quick meditation.

My wife and I recently came across this great TED talk, which is actually by the person from the Headspace app. It’s a great pitch for why you should give meditation a try.

I’ve been enjoying meditation. I think it’s helping and having a positive impact on my life. I feel refreshed and ready for the day after I do it. I’m going to continue my daily meditation practice. I’d like to learn different techniques and study more in the near future. For now, I’m going to stick with counting.

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Author: Brett Chalupa

day: software developer, night: comic artist

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