I meditated for 66 days in a row and I’m here to tell you how incredible that was. Learning how to quiet your mind is the most powerful thing you can do for yourself. If you typically find yourself overthinking, feeling anxious about the future, or generally thinking negative thoughts then meditation is a beautiful best friend. It can often feel tough, but building a meditation habit can change your life.
I meditated for 66 days straight and this is what happened
Before we get into building a meditation habit to quiet your mind, I want to have a little chat about how effective it really is. I struggle with anxiety a lot, and find myself overthinking more than I’d like. I’ll worry about the future, mind read other people, catastrophize the tiniest little thing and convince myself I can’t do anything. All in the space of 5 minutes. This was a daily, and probably even hourly thing for me a couple of years ago. Then I discovered meditation, mindfulness and general wellness and everything changed. I still have anxiety, and quite often catch myself overthinking. The difference now though is whereas before I may have followed that negativity for hours, days and sometimes weeks, I now stop it in it’s tracks within 5 minutes. And this has all come from meditation and mindfulness.
One of the biggest noises in my head was to do with finances. I would sit and worry about what if I don’t make enough money to cover my costs in 6 months. What if I never get the opportunity to buy that car I want. What if I stay stuck at this earning capacity forever? And I would go into a cycle that led me to believe I was totally unworthy of earning any money and I would have to rely on others forever. This never used to be a worry for me, but since starting my own business it became a daily thing.
This went on for a few months, until I kicked up my meditation habit. Within 3 days I had clarity. Every time my mind would wander down a negative track, I would stop. Breath. Reframe my thoughts and move on. It meant I could either action something that was another step towards my goals, kickstart my mindfulness and listen to what fear was coming up or just sit and accept the thoughts and feelings. It no longer felt like a huge issue, but one I could handle with ease.
But when I stopped meditating… this happened
During those 66 days, there were a few days I didn’t manage to meditate. The days were busy, I had new clients and I totally forgot because my routine has shifted. Those 3 days were tragic. I noticed the sad negative thinking patterns come back and I was back to the doubtful abyss. Fear kept cropping up, jealousy reared it’s head and I overthought literally everything. Even my best friend not replying instantly had me berating myself. It was only on the 4th day that I realized I hadn’t meditated and that’s why I’d been so out of balance.
Why meditation works to quiet your mind
We are totally in control of our thoughts and we’re so fortunate that we get to choose them! Unfortunately, we so often work on auto-pilot that we don’t even know who’s in control of those thoughts. Is it you? Is it an annoying voice in your head? Maybe your old teacher or manager berating you? These thoughts that come up on default, are nurtured there through past experience and conditioning.
What we choose to repeat and focus becomes more prevalent and important and we often absorb them as beliefs. As soon as we become aware of our thoughts, we’re able to see that thoughts aren’t facts and what we believe isn’t always true.
And that’s how meditation works to quiet your mind. The simple process of slowing down and noticing the thoughts that pop up is the first step to quietening your mind. And that comes from sitting, observing and breathing (you don’t always have to sit but it helps…)
It sometimes feels frustrating trying to quiet your mind, because thoughts will pop up every millisecond! But building a meditation habit will allow you to notice the thought, then let it pass by just as easily as it arrived. Meditation allows us to monitor these thoughts without any judgement. We often judge ourselves based on our thoughts. Meditation gives us an unbiased and open-minded view of the thoughts that come through our mind, without that pre-conceived judgement. What follows is a sense of peace, understanding and compassion towards yourself and others.
How to quiet your mind… build your meditation habit!
First things first, it takes a while to even notice the quiet in your mind. It also takes consistency and commitment – look at what happened with me when I missed 3 days! Learning how to quiet your mind is like going to the gym or university. You can’t expect to go to one workout or lecture and feel like a strongman or expert. You also can’t expect to remain strong or knowledgeable if you stop working out or learning once you’ve reached the end goal. It’s the consistent effort towards that goal that makes it happen. The tricky thing is though, a quiet mind has no tangible rewards because you can’t see or particularly test a quiet mind like you could strength or knowledge. This is where it’s important to build a habit and monitor your progress as often as you can.
5 steps to build a meditation habit
- Set a certain time of the day where you can meditate easily. I do it after I’ve done my hair, make-up and teeth. One of my clients does it before she goes to bed. Another will do it whilst he waits for his morning coffee to cool down.
- Create a reminder until the habit it set. Pop an alarm on your phone or a post-it note on your mirror or bedside table.
- Play around with different types of meditation. I like to mix mine up, on Mondays I’ll use an app. Tuesdays is Japa bead day. Wednesdays I’ll visualise. Thursdays I do a Buddhist type meditation and Fridays I’ll go with whatever I fancy. I also have one of my own recordings I frequently listen to, you can download that too right here.
- Reward yourself! For each week you’ve accomplished your set amount of meditations, give yourself a treat! Buy yourself some flowers and enjoy a lie-in. Watch that new movie or indulge in a yummy hot-chocolate. Whatever you choose, make sure to remind yourself it’s in celebration of your commitment to yourself.
- Keep track of your thoughts and emotions. As I said before, it’s tricky to know how far you’ve come unless you have something monitoring it. Keep a short journal and write in it whenever you fancy. Jot down what you want to gain and how you’re feeling before you start building your meditation habit. Then, periodically, note down a few words or phrases that encapsulate how you feel. I have a cute compact diary where I’ll rate my meditation from 1-10 and write a couple of words based on how I feel. Some days it’ll be 3/10 because it felt particularly challenging and I’ll be in a rotten mood and others it’ll be 10/10 and I feel a sense of peace and calm.
Take away points
No matter how I’m feeling, doing a meditation at the start of my day prepares me to tackle anything that comes my way. Without this habit, I go into the day without preparing my mind and quite often live through reaction and not intention. Meditation allows my brain to settle into any thoughts and be aware of them without judgement or fear. It allows me to mindfully move forward, and not hastily move forward.
Learning how to quiet your mind takes patience and consistency, and building a meditation habit using the above 5 steps is the easiest way forward.
I’d love to know how you do – give this a go and comment with what you find!