The last 60 days have been transformative.
Let me give you some background:
For all my life, I’ve had a voice in my head. I mean… we all do. It silently narrates everything that happens, creates plans for the future, and thinks about events of the past.
For the past 60 days, I’ve paid attention to that voice every single day for a minimum of at least one hour straight.
How do you meditate?
Here was my method: I sit down on a nice, comfy chair with a blanket – immediately after waking up – and either do one of two things…
- I think of nothing and note when thoughts inevitably arise. Then, I direct my thoughts back toward nothing.
- I let my thoughts go wild and think of anything I want. Eventually, what typically happens is I get so bored by this inner voice I eventually revert to nothingness.
What’s been my history with meditation?
Now, this challenge isn’t the first time I’ve meditated. I started meditating about a year ago for 20 minutes in the morning. At first, it was hard. But then it became easier. Immediately before this challenge, I was doing two 20-30 minute sessions daily.
But the 60-minute sessions were different.
The shorter sessions were beneficial because they built up my “meditation muscle.” But I often noticed I would just be getting into the flow of the meditation when the timer would go off.
The 20-30-minute sessions got me accustomed to sitting in silence, sitting with my breathe, having periods of nothingness. But the real gains have come from the 60-minute sessions.
What were my expectations?
I didn’t come at this challenge (or meditation in general) with the sense that I would gain anything from it. I just did the practice with no expectations of what would eventually happen.
If a person starts going to the gym and expects to see a six pack and muscles, every time they come back from training and they don’t see it… they’re going to be upset. Meanwhile, the person who goes with no regard for whether or not they will get external gain from the practice will pursue it even when it doesn’t seem to show any results. Something to consider.
If you’d also like to read a detailed, daily log of experiences, you can check that out here.
Please don’t take any of what I’ve written below as gospel.
It’s not the truth. It’s simply the truth for me. Your experience may be completely different (or strikingly similar).
More in touch with nature
All my life, I couldn’t give two shits about a plant or a bug or a bird or anything in nature. I’m not sure when – maybe a week or two after I started this challenge – I became really curious about our natural surroundings.
This tweet is a good indication of where my mind was at five days into the challenge:
I’m not 100% sure this affinity for nature was directly tied to meditating (correlation does not mean causation) and I’m not quite sure how or why meditating means being in touch with nature, but it is a drastic change from how I was living before – and there is no other explanation that I can think of than it was caused by meditation.
A sense of oneness and love toward everything
This has been the biggest change in my life. All my life I was angry. I was putting up a mask. I wanted situations to be my way. I was selfish. Not all the time, but a lot of the time.
Ever since I began meditating, I felt a sense of oneness and love toward everything that only increased in magnitude the more (and the longer) I began to meditate.
After starting most mornings with meditation, it was not uncommon for me to want to hug my brother, mother, and father and tell them how much I loved them. One year ago, if I had done this, they would have looked at me like I was crazy.
Today, sometimes, they still do.
A daily psychiatrist
I was really messed up in the head. I have seen probably 5-10 different psychiatrists in my 25 years on this Earth. Never for long, and once I got everything out of my head, I usually felt much better and felt like my problem was solved.
But what these 60-minute sessions allowed me to do was go to the psychiatrist every day.
When two people are having a conversation and one has gone over and looked at and analyzed the deep elements of their mind, while the other has not… well the person who has inherently has an advantage. They are holding less baggage.
Fills out the clutter you’re holding in your mind
Most situations don’t get stuck in our heads. You go to the grocery store. Nothing eventful happens. You forget about it.
But some situations in your life do get stuck.
It could be how you treated someone or how someone treated you. There were a number of times throughout this challenge where I was shocked and amazed that something was still in my head.
Situations from high school or college where I didn’t live up to the highest version of myself and/or holding resentment to others.
It was time to forgive myself and others.
Forgive yourself and others
Most people have a difficult time forgiving themselves. For instance, if you fail to complete your to-do list in any given day, you are hurting your self-image and might be mad at yourself. I spent a lot of days not completing my to-do list. So, there was naturally a heavy backlog of resentment I was carrying.
Once I was able to recognize the situations that were stuck – the clutter that was in the depths of my mind – I was better able to forgive myself.
One key element that helped me in a number of meditations was to just “let go.” Hardly insightful. However, it was so easy to get attached to a certain way of thinking or a thought pattern or wondering “when will this be over?” Just surrendering to the experience and letting go was incredibly powerful.
So many thoughts!
Each meditation session features so many thoughts. Just listening to your mind is incredibly powerful, particularly because you can see that you can have contradictory thoughts – even in the span of one hour!
It becomes easier to forgive yourself for any thought you might have.
Some religions are punitive for “improper thoughts” and I believe this is especially troubling. Because if you are not allowed to think certain things or are ashamed for thinking them, then you can easily fall into the trap of thinking less of yourself.
Additionally, it has become clear that many of my thoughts have actually already been programed into my head. For example, I listened to Mike Posner’s album, Keep Going, on repeat a few months ago. During meditation sessions (and in general), his words from the album will ring in my ears. I do not consciously think of them, they simply arise.
How many other thoughts like that have been programmed into my head?
Lack of care of other’s opinions towards you.
Meditation has given me confidence.
Throughout this challenge, I’d regularly blast music in my car while singing along, because I was so joyful about life. Part of the reason why I have no desire to say the perfect thing or have anxiety in conversation is because I am more willing to let the moment be what it is. I can better just appreciate this moment, without having to place my judgement on being anywhere or getting anywhere.
A greater desire for deep conversations
I already was a proponent of deep conversations. This challenge has only further driven this desire. Instead of wasting time on “How are you doing” or “What’d you do today,” I want to go deeper. I want to find out about other people’s lives. Not for the sake of my own benefit, but because I’m genuinely interested in what they’re up to.
A greater willingness to listen with love and compassion
Before this challenge, I wasn’t compassionate. I was on my way to being a more empathetic person. But while doing this challenge, I became overflowed with more compassion, more empathy, more loving to all.
No desire to say the perfect thing – conversations flow organically
Before starting this challenge, I was anxious in conversation. I didn’t even realize it. I needed to fill the silence. I needed to find the perfect thing to say.
Now, I have no desire to do that. Conversations flow more organically. I let whatever happens happen. I don’t need the conversation to be a certain way. It just is the way it is.
Taking a shower is not meditating
I used to think taking a shower was similar to meditating. But I don’t believe that anymore. Here’s why… let’s say your mind drifts toward a place you don’t want to go… you can simply turn the shower off. Sure, you can do the same thing with meditation, but there is typically a clock. You are responsible for completing the session.
Meditation and psychedelic experiences are pointing to the same place
After talking to my friends who have had psychedelic experiences (and reading about them), I have come to the conclusion that they’re attempting to get to the same place. Here’s the biggest difference (from what I can tell): taking psychedelics gives you a higher peak experience than someone who meditates, but the person who meditates experiences the feelings of oneness, compassion, empathy on a more widespread basis.
First off, thank you for reading.
Meditating for 60 minutes daily has become the equivalent of working out for me… a necessity in my life. My mind desperately needs it in order to feel whole.
If you’ve made it this far, you’ll also probably enjoy my newsletter – Tuesday Treasure.