Updated: Jan 1
I’m one of those doctors that practice what I preach, but for reasons I cannot explain, meditation has been one of the things that is challenging for me to consistently implement. So last month, I decided to take my own advice and commit to meditation practice everyday for a whole month, just to see how it would impact my mental health and productivity. The result has been enlightening.
Because of my long work hours that often means not getting home until late into the night, I know that the only time I can realistically carve out for meditation is the brief moment in the morning when I quietly sip on my coffee while waiting for my brain to wake up. I knew it had to be morning because I did’t want tiredness at the end of the day to be the excuse for not practicing meditation (which for a while had been my excuse for not exercising after work). So I decided that every morning after I finish my coffee, I would spend ten min meditating using a voice guided app.
On the first day of my meditation commitment, I remember feeling quite excited, thinking about all the potential benefits I might experience. These include reduction of stress, promoting positive emotions, lengthening attention span, and improving memory, all of which I can use more of. Because the duration of the entire exercise was merely ten minutes, in my head it did not seem too intimidating or difficult. Once I got started though, I immediately ran into issue of random thoughts popping into my head that distracted me from my task at hand, which was to remain in the present and not worry about the past and future. It was clearly harder than I thought, but I was not about to give up.
On the subsequent days, things got a little easier. I still struggled with staying present, one of the things that I quickly learned was to not pass judgement on myself as a thinking human. The trainer on the app told me that it is okay to allow these thoughts to enter my head, but it’s what you do with them that makes a difference. Instead of focusing on forcing these thoughts out of my head, the better way to go about it is to let them pass through my head without reacting to them. With this great tip in mind, I felt like I was really starting to understand what meditation is and the kind of empowerment it can provide to the individual who practices it.
Overtime, I really did start to notice a difference in how I react to stressful situations. While meditation did not make me into a happier person per se, I do feel that it has protected me against overwhelming emotions that used to make me feel helpless. Now I feel like I am more in the driver's seat when it comes to controlling my reactions to unpleasant things. I have yet to notice a difference in my memory and attention span, but I am remaining hopeful that with continual practice, I might be able to start making some headway in those areas. After all, it’s only been a month, and I have already felt like a calmer person. Just imagine what years of practice would do.