For the first hundred days of 2018, I’ve done all this Big Year asks of me – just ten minutes each day listening to a session on the Headspace app. Am I still a fan?
The first thing that has to be said is that meditation, of whatever form and duration, is clearly most individualistic. Some people long for constant mindfulness. Others, and I count myself among them, retain a healthy shot of cynicism. To be blunt, most of the time I don’t wish to be chilled out and peaceful. Bring on the fizzing mind, I say.
Nonetheless, one aspect of Headspace stressed by the founder (and voice) of Headspace – the pleasure in taking a moment out of the frenetic day – is something I’m definitely noticing. I look forward to my 600 seconds of “time out.”
But of course meditation is meant to lead to far more than a sense of time off, far more than the relief of a glass of wine at the end of the day. It’s meant to change one’s life. Has that happened to me? I can’t say it has. After the first thirty days of introductory work, I’ve been gradually working through various modules and each one of them teaches a different technique. For example, the Restlessness module offers a visualization of slowly filling up with light. My current module, Motivation, inserts a major philosophical “question to oneself” every day. In spite of instructions to take each lesson out into the hurly-burly of the everyday, I rarely remember to do so. For me, Headspace remains a daily trinket.
Yet I must conclude on a note of optimism. Even though I haven’t internalised each Headspace technique, the steady drip-drip of the routine might yet lead me to taking “the next step” during 2018. I do remember every nifty technique. Whenever I choose, at random, to use one at my writing desk or out in the world, it seems to have a beneficial impact. Perhaps, after another 265 sessions, I shall transform into mindfulness incarnate. Perhaps . . .
Seven weeks of ten minutes a day of Headspace . . . so what? An evolving set of short meditation exercises is impacting me, but exactly how? At one level, I thoroughly look forward to my mini oasis of stillness and quiet, and I think I’m absorbing a meditation practice quite well. Perhaps that should be enough.
Or should I aspire to more? The adherents of mindfulness offer such evangelical promise! Meditation, like miraculous diet discoveries and superfood, can cure all ills, or so I have read. Like most geeks, I’m scurrilously skeptical, so my instinct is to diss all such claims, but maybe I’m wrong. Now that I seem to have settled well into ten minutes of meditation a day, shouldn’t I attempt longer sessions? Should I at least read up more on mindfulness?
This experimental Big Year is, so far, a genuine success story. Every day I’ve carved out ten minutes (not nearly as easy as it sounds) from my afternoon to sit still and listen to sequential episodes of the Headspace app. I’ve worked through 30 days of basics and am now progressing through a 30-day Sleep module. It’s a great feeling to look forward to less than a quarter hour of genuine stillness.
That said, let me add a caveat. My grand 2018 idea was that a bit of meditation, allied to the steady disciplines of my Freshness Big Year, would produce a new Andres, vigorous but at peace, ready to work well and live well. Well, that hasn’t happened. Daily Headspace hasn’t, so far at least, made much practical difference. Luckily I have eleven months to go!
The man behind the app, Headspace, that I’ll listen to 365 times this year, is Andy Puddicombe. Until recently I hadn’t realized he did a classic 10-minute Ted Talk back in 2012. Take a moment to watch it!
Tiled repetition soothes, doesn’t it?
For five days in a row, mostly in the second half of the afternoon, I’ve plonked myself in this chair or that, and done my 10 minutes of meditation using the superb Headspace app. I managed a greater number of days in a row a couple of times last year, but this time is different. I feel committed and that spirit of involvement finds me looking forward to my 360 seconds of stillness. If the next 360 Headspace experiences is as good as my first five, I’ve stumbled onto something most enjoyable.
As part of 2018’s Stillness Big Year, I’ll flail around the topics of meditation, peacefulness, “mindfulness,” and calmness. Nothing systematic, just keeping my antennae raised because I’m spending ten minutes daily on Headspace.
Hurry Slowly is Jocelyn Glei’s just-launched podcast “about how you can be more productive, creative, and resilient through the simple act of slowing down.” I’m type A/C, alternatively manic and torpid, always fussing over whether to work too hard or to creatively laze around, so I’ll tune in.
The first episode is an interview with Jason Fried, an astute software company head who, for one thing, keeps his company’s working hours to 40 (32 in summer!). For me, where I am right now, the take home message is my power to allocate my own time in many different ways. Don’t let others take time from you, that’s another idea (not a new one but innovatively and vigorously expressed and implemented). Check it out, I’m sure you’ll find something useful.
Is it ridiculous to obsess for 10 minutes a day? In this case, no. Over various periods, I have enjoyed the marvellous Headspace meditation app, but I’ve never stuck at it. Something in me resists all the entreaties about mindfulness – I like my restless brain – but I recognize the need to find some peace in every packed 2018 day. So I’m going to listen to the app, 10 minutes is all it takes, every day of the year. I can cart it with me even when on the road, so there is no reason (other than my inconstancy) why I should miss a day.
I’m calling this Stillness, around the notion of finding quiet and peace and repose amidst the storm of life, and I’ll use the Stillness Big Year as an excuse to ponder the role and efficacy of meditation.