As part of Lifehacker’s Fitness challenge, I am trying out various meditation techniques for 30 days. This is the second week of my challenge, and I’ve taken a new step towards developing a consistent meditation routine: I increased the length of my meditation sessions and tried midday meditation rather than morning sittings. The results were … less than desirable.
Experimenting with different times of day
In my first week, my comfort level with meditation grew, but my stress was not necessarily relieved. I suffer from stress primarily during the workday—the ever-growing to-do list can be overwhelming and most of the time I let it overrun my waking hours. For the second week, I decided to meditate for five minutes in the middle of the day.
I continued to use the Headspace app but found the sessions I wanted to take during the day jumped from three minutes to 10; my plan to take five minutes wasn’t going to work. Ten minutes it was.
Meditating during the day as a multitasker
Meditating requires a willingness to relinquish any responsibility for a set amount of time. For someone who likes to multitask, trying to let go of those responsibilities in the middle of my day felt impossible. I found myself unable to let my thoughts pass me by as the session directed. I would think of a deadline, or a meeting I had later that day, and couldn’t shake it. My persistent thoughts prohibited any moments of calm I was trying to achieve. This could be rooted in a deeper issue: high-functioning anxiety.
According to the counseling service site Better Help, high functioning anxiety manifests itself in many ways—a compulsion to work extra hard, for example, or an overwhelming fear of the future. Although I haven’t been diagnosed with high-functioning anxiety disorder, these symptoms sound awfully familiar, and I could benefit from the methods for relieving those symptoms. Better Help explains that mindfulness has been an effective treatment:
Incorporating mindfulness into cognitive therapy helps the counselors of people with high functioning anxiety to give their patients the tools that they need to keep themselves grounded in their own thoughts and feelings in the moment rather than worrying about what other people think or what may happen in the distant future.
Learning to pivot and press on
After reading about the benefits of mindfulness and anxiety, I felt empowered to stick with my challenge. Since the midday meditation was having an adverse effect to what I wanted, I’ve decided to switch to meditation before bed. I often will stay up until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, watching television and sometimes working. I’m hoping that committing to meditation at night will force me to set the day aside at a reasonable hour and position my body to fall asleep easier while having more restful sleep. This may be the key to consistency for me, and possibly mean less stress during my work hours.