Choosing your reactions just takes a little mindfulness.
I did it. I completed all three levels of Headspace. To me, the first 10 days were a sort of “warm up,” and the second and third set of 10 days were the “big game”. I approached Level 2 with greater purpose, and found it easier to continue that sense of purpose into Level 3. I really wanted to feel the effects of meditation outside of the practice itself. I wanted to see how meditation could affect me as a person. I went into Level 2 still unsure if it has the ability to change my outlook on life or the way I interact with others. Once I got into Level 3, I realized I still had a lot of work to do.
I knew that this time around, I had to be more dedicated. During Level 1, I found it difficult to stick to doing the meditation on a daily basis. This time, I was not only dedicated to doing it every day, but I also made sure to do it at the same time every morning. This was a big deal for me. I can’t even guarantee that I’ll brush my teeth every morning, yet I managed to make meditation a strict part of my morning routine. (Please, hold your applause.) Something else I did differently this time, which I’m not exactly sure is “right” or not, is that I meditated while lying on my bed. During Level 1, Andy suggested that one must sit to meditate effectively. However, I really felt a lot better about it lying down. Sorry, Andy. That reminds me, we finally get to see Andy in these last two levels. I was very excited about this. Too excited, perhaps.
The exercises in Level 2 were really similar to Level 1, but around five minutes longer. There were no cute videos of cars, clouds, or bodies of water, further instilling the notion that Level 2 means business. Admittedly, the first few days felt slightly more intimidating. I felt like more was expected of me this time around, and wasn’t sure if I could keep up. However, around Day 15, Andy started discussing the obstacles involved with meditation. Each day was dedicated to addressing a new obstacle, and Andy provided tips on how to overcome them. The first one he addressed was restlessness. After that, he discussed lethargy, boredom, physical agitation, and then more subtle obstacles like daydreams. I feel my biggest obstacles are restlessness and daydreams. I was still finding it difficult to not get sidetracked and think about potential occurrences in my near future.
I appreciated Andy’s quick tips and words of wisdom . He reminded me to stay present, and more importantly not to push my feelings of agitation away. When pushing against it, more tension is created. This only leads to more agitation. I realized that this advice is something I could apply to my anxiety. In my first piece, I mentioned that I rely heavily on distraction to feel better about my catastrophic thoughts. During this round of meditation, I came to the realization that distractions are not going to solve anything. They haven’t for a very long time.
Overall, Level 2 helped me feel more comfortable about meditation. I was less worried about the small things I was doing “wrong.” Personally, I don’t think it matters if I’m lying down instead of sitting, or if I end up scratching an itch or changing positions. These are minor things that if focused on too strongly, take away from what it means to meditate.
Level 3 was dedicated more to what I found myself missing from Levels 1 and 2. Andy focused this series on making sure to apply the teachings of meditation to the rest of my day. He consistently emphasized that very special word, “presence,” as well as “awareness.” Something I found especially useful in helping me understand what the hell I was doing all this for was learning that these exercises don’t end once Andy stops talking. Even after those (now) 20 minutes are up, the exercise goes with you for the rest of the day. Admittedly, this felt daunting. In some ways, it still does. As the sessions went on, however, I discovered ways to be present without having it feel like a bigger challenge than it needs to be. I found myself walking around my neighborhood counting my steps the way I counted breaths. This was my first instance of truly taking meditation, in some small form, outside the confines of the narrated exercises and into my own personal life.
I have experienced some results, as mentioned previously. I’m making more of an effort to stay present and worry less about what might happen in the future. I’m trying to take more time out of my day to partake in mini-sessions. Of course, this is easier said than done, yet I’ll hand it to meditation. If it weren’t for these daily practices, I wouldn’t be putting forth such effort at all. Even if it’s minimal, it’s still better than nothing. Level 2 took me outside of my head, while Level 3 took me outside of my comfort zone. I know I still have a lot of work to do, but after completing these sessions I am left with a great desire to gain clarity. And I’ve learned over these past few weeks that I don’t have to change who I am in order to do so. I can experience the benefits of meditation while staying my non-spiritual self, chugging whiskey inside dive bars.