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How Meditating Every Day for a Year Changed My Life

by Oct 17, 2021Daily Habits, Discoveries, Health, Quality of Life

Let’s start with some context and definitions…

I started meditating 10 minutes every morning from October 2020. And we are one year after, in October 2021. I want to share how I got started and how new it was. I will also talk about my conclusions. How beneficial it was, how I struggled sometimes. I want to explain how it helped me to reduce my anxiety, to be more calm and gentle with myself and others. I learned A LOT.

I used an app called “Headspace” which offers beginners to pro level guided meditations. Their mentoring and teachings have been a huge support and are still today a really important support. It’s on my phone, but every morning, I just play one of their programs or courses and get it done. Headspace offers mini-courses, special meditations for different moods, needs, situations… Now they even offer focus or mindfullness music, gym audios and videos and other lifestyle tips on mindfullness, mental and physical health in general. This article is also going to include a review of this app as it was my companion for a full year.

“What is meditation” is a question I answered in a previous article, that I wrote in November 2020, less than a month after starting meditating. It is explaining my definition of meditation and why I was doing it. Today’s article is the review of this one year journey.

Now, let’s start with the tough questions:

Have I really meditated everyday during one year?

Nope. Unfortunately not! It’s funny to say but quite disappointing as well. I wish I could tell you that I sticked to it for a full year!

But the reality is that I’ve meditated 50% of the time, maybe a little more. How do I know?

Well, I can’t go against this number or discuss it because I have tracked down all my meditation sessions during the year.

Every day, I sit down at the end of my day and write my daily review. And in it, there is a checkbox that ask if I meditated. And apparently I’ve checked this box 50% of the time for the past 12 months (I’m realising there is 2 months missing on the below image).

This is a summary made per month, so you can have an idea:

One year review of meditation per month 2021 nicolas thanh

Another report I could use is from the Headspace app stats tab:

# 74 hours in total of meditation (I’ve rarely done meditation without this app so it’s surely accurate). It’s including a few hours, probably 4-5 hours of focusing music.

# Average time meditated 16 minutes

# 283 sessions completed. It’s more than 50% of the time, but this is including probably 2 months of both mornings & evenings.

total time meditated sessions completed average meditation stats from headspace app nicolas thanh

In retrospect, I am really happy that I meditate “only” 50% of the time.

Back in 2019, I used to wake up, get a coffee, light a cigarette and start working…

Now, when I look at my mornings, I am a lot more proud of myself and a loooot more confident that I’ll be able to live longer with these new morning habits. You can read the article I made about my morning routine here.

On that note, I believe that I don’t need to meditate everyday and check this “checkbox”. But by waking up and doing my best to meditate has helped me to start my days in a different way.

Meditating is not hard. Technically, I just need to take 15 minutes for myself, sitting in silence and checking on my body, listening to my breath, letting my thoughts come and go, etc.

What matters is that now, even when I don’t sit in the morning to meditate, I am doing my best to take 5 minutes as soon as possible to re-align myself with what I am doing and breath.

Or it could be during my lunch time: eating mindfully.

Or in the evening when spending time with my wife: being present and actually listening to her.

Or when I start getting angry at something and noticing it and naturally accept to be in that state and letting my anger be… and usually disapear or at least not transforming into more violence, more hatred.

These are all the background progress you can make when you start meditating, even 50% of the time ;)!

My meditation journal cannot be more real!

Here are some extracts of my meditation journal that I wrote when in October, November and December 2020.

For some reason it’s mixed in French and English so let me summarize the key take aways for you:

review mediation journal first two months of mediation nicolas thanh

I was “panicking with silence” ⇒ it was one of my biggest fear: to be facing my own thoughts. If you know me well, you know I tend to be preoccupied easily and I can have many ideas and many ways to get distracted every minutes of the day. I think I’m kind of hyperactive but anyway… sitting doing nothing and not sleeping but listening to myself was very scary.

week reviews nicolas thanh meditation using notion app and headspace app

It was hard to sit; I tried so many positions: lying on my bed, on the floor, sitting on a wooden chair, on a sofa. Today, I’m actually sitting the most naturally possible on a carpet.

I tried morning and evening. Starting with 10 minutes pr session. Now I do 15 to 20 minutes, only in the morning.

I compared meditation like sitting at a terrace of a coffee at a busy corner in Saigon. The thousands of motorbikes coming and going could be your thoughts. And you simply look at them, not trying to chase them or to go in the middle of the road and try to stop the traffic. You just sip your coffee, at the terrace and enjoy the show.

I fall asleep, I think that’s why I stopped meditating in the evening on my bed (lol what an idea!). But also because I was falling asleep I realized I needed to improve my sleep quality. So part of my meditation journey has to do with my sleep. I made an article on how I now fall asleep more naturally and easily. You can check the link here.

I said “feeling more peaceful, more careless about things”: It’s important to notice that what I meant was that I was less preoccupied. Normally I start my day and my brain is already functional. Today, I tend to step back and relax. I’m still preoccupied and even after one year of practicing it, I still miss meditation sometimes because I am preoccupied. But it’s a progress: I wrote it down, it’s there I cannot deny it. Onto the next step!

I am proud that I also meditated while traveling, while changing environment. It’s important to stick to habits while traveling. And if you have your habits that you love, then you should bring them with you while traveling…

I did guided and silent meditation. Headspace app has different levels. You can choose to be fully guided, semi guided or completely silent. The completely silent mode is basically a timer… And the fully guided is really telling you what to do, etc. When you do it everyday, sometimes you need to experiment things. So some weeks I would go fully silent. But the guided meditations offered in the app are also great teachings. Because in their introduction they talk about topics you can choose; meditation for anxiety, for sleeping better, for financial stress, for acceptance, for grieving, for dealing with anger, fear, resentment, lazyness, etc.

Weekly review daily meditation december meditation 2020 nicolas thanh

Key Takeaways from that full year of meditation:

I have learned to let my strong emotions to exist and to be a part of me.

I am still fighting with my own thoughts, daydreaming, preoccupied. I can still be stressed or angry. But the big difference is I don’t let it escalate simply because I have learned to notice when this happen and I’ve learned to let it go.

If you have never meditated, this will sounds very strange to you. But because I’m sitting in the morning trying to catching up with my body and listening to my breath, I am training every morning to give importance to nothing else than being here, as I am.

And so when a strong emotion comes up; for example if someone is making me angry or creating some frustration; I will instantly feel that emotion invading my body and I will instantaneously listen to it. And by giving it a real importance, by acknowledging that this feeling exists; it usually stop asking for more attention and I stop being angry or stressed.

By doing this, I could focus on the real problems.

I uncovered some very deep rooted problems and will keep exploring.

I learned that I had difficulties to accept the reality of things as they are. Acceptance. Accepting that things are and there is absolutely nothing you can do about changing this. For example, accepting that you are sad. Accepting that you made the other person worried. Accepting that unexpected event.

After acceptance, I could start working on my observations and really work on that particular thing that made me sad, etc.

I am still impatient and cannot resist to jump two steps ahead if I can. But I’ve learned to be totally okay with slowing things down and going step-by-step.

I think, one more time, that this new habit has been possible because I started “small”; everyday 10 minutes. One day I don’t do it, it’s ok, I do it the next morning. I keep doing it. Until one day it’s been a year and I am actually here, sharing my conclusions on this blog.

Meditating gave me the super-power to instantly connect with my intuitions and know if I’m on the right path or not.

Every moments I would be too overwhelmed, too stressed, unhealthy. By meditating would detect it. I used to never listen to my body; alway be super-active. But when I meditate it’s like pausing, leaving all the problems of the world aside for 10 minutes… and asking yourself the question: how is your body doing today? It’s usually enough for your body to answer and tell you: ” Listen Nico, I feel pain in my lower back, I think you’ve been sitting too much these days and you should exercise more…” (Yeah, a conversation with yourself!).

Should entrepreneurs meditate?

Meditation can take many forms. If there is one thing I believe any entrepreneur should do is to learn to pause for even 10 seconds sometimes in the day and take a few deep breath; in through the nose, out through the mouth. And while breathing, checking on their body, listening to what it’s saying; tired? tense? energetic? heavy or light? And let it go. You don’t need to find a solution to your problems now; but just noticing how is your body today; I think is important.

I realised that I was meditating when I was swimming. It’s more active kind of meditation; but you could walk mindfully, eat mindfully, make love mindfully… I tend to believe that we are all connecting with ourselves at some points and that meditation is not something apart from this.

Meditation is just one tool to help us be more connected with ourselves.

So if you are interested in meditating and getting started, I’d recommend you to learn about it and Headspace has some beginner guides that you can try for free. I’m not paid by this app and they are not the only option. But for a 28 years old like me, who didn’t have the time to join a community or the budget to pay for a meditation teacher, this app was the best solution.

Thank you for reading until the end!

Every morning, after my meditation 🧘🏽and my breakfast ☕️, I sit at my desk for one hour and write answers to my own questions, as an entrepreneur ✍️. Then I publish it on this blog, hoping to help other entrepreneurs to find answers to their questions too. And this, no matter your “level”.

To participate, ask me questions on social medias @nicolasthanhg (click on the icons below). I may answer directly or write an article about it.

Now, you can also go back to the blog page and search for articles related to your scope of interest. 🔍

Have a good day,
Nicolas Thành