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How Meditation made me Happier and Sleep Better

I was always very skeptical of mediation and thought it was a religious thing and pretty much a waste of time.  Then the Covid 19 pandemic hit.  Since my wife, Emily was a medical worker, and they were under enormous stress and scared for their lives to just perform their jobs they got free access to some meditation apps – 10 percent happier and Headspace.  I had some extra time due to the pandemic and thought I would like to be 10 percent happier so I gave it a shot.  What I found was that I really liked meditation and it made my life better in the forms of –

  1. Less Stress and Anxiety as I found ways to give my mind a break for a few minutes
  2. Less Anger and Resentment which led to better relationships with my wife and kids
  3. More focus as I got rid of distractions and could focus on what was important
  4. Better Sleep – I admit there are some meditations that actually relaxed me enough so I would fall asleep for a few minutes for a nap and I later discovered that there are mediations that actually help you fall to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night
  5. And I was at least 10 percent happier 😊

I have also been amazed at how many other people use meditation including the Navy Seals, which use breathing techniques – here is an article from Forbes that shows how Navy Seals de stress in 5 minutes.

What’s Meditaiton like?

I thought it was sitting with your legs crossed and maybe chanting or picturing a tree falling in the forest.  There are types of meditation like that (google types of mediation), but the apps offer guided meditations, which involve an instructor teaching you something – usually in a 10 minute lesson.  Some examples that I enjoyed are –

  • Breathing exercise – This can be as simple as just having someone remind you to take a few deep breathes to types of breathing techniques like box breathing, alternate nose, and making your exhales longer than your inhales.
  • Focus on parts of your body through a body scan
  • Think about your thoughts – Did you ever think about where your thoughts come from and that sometimes that impulse to eat another piece of cake or yell at your spouse may not be a great thought to listen to? Meditation helps you be aware of these thoughts and maybe make better decisions 🙂
  • Embrace the change happening around you and stop trying to keep things the same (think about you or your kids getting older, how the sky and weather changes, etc)
  • Specific topics like stress, anxiety, sleep, depression, exhaustion, injustice, focus and better performance, etc.
  • Lessons before or after to help you understand what the instructor is trying to do.

After a meditation it makes me feel calmer and relaxed, which is a little simliar to how I feel after a workout or shower as an example.

How I use Mediation Now

Originally it was just curiosity of trying it out.  A lot of the topics have courses that start really simple and include some teaching and tips along the way so it was pretty easy to pick a topic that sounded interesting like meditation basics or meditation for stress and see where it went.  Now I don’t subscribe to any paid apps or have a routine where I do a meditation every day.  Since I have a basic understanding when I am feeling certain things I can use meditation to help on an as needed basis.  I use meditation mainly to start my day or to help me fall asleep.

  • Insight Timer – I like using this one to keep learning new techniques and to try new things. As mentioned the suggestions on the home screen change based on the time of day so it is fun to wake up and do a meditation on having a great day that day
  • Sleep on Spotify / Youtube – I love using these for Yoga Nidra to help me fall asleep or relax and do a quick body scan. We have a 1.5 year old so after being up with her for 30 min at 4 AM sometimes it is hard to fall back asleep and this really help.  I prefer spotify as we have a paid subscription so there are not any ads that will interrupt me right when I fall asleep.  I am not an expert at it but I have started to be able to take about 4 deep breaths on most nights when I am ready to fall asleep and then fall asleep pretty soon after.
  • There are lots of other types of meditation and I think over time I will try some other types but for now I feel like I have a system that is working so I will keep using it as I need it.

Meditation Apps / Websites

Ten Percent Happier app, you’ll discover guided meditations and practical teachings you can carry anywhere.   Most of their courses have both a learning discussion before the meditation which helps address all of the common objections to meditation people have.  They have a free trial so you can check it out.  This is the first one that I started with and it was very user friendly.  I would start with one of the beginners courses.

Headspace Great meditations on sleep and they have a lot for kids as well including some with sesame street characters.  14 days free and then about $6 / month.

Calm is another one.  And If you google you can find even more and most have 1 week free trials.

Insight Timer  #1 Free Meditation App for Sleep, Relax & More –
The best meditation app with the world’s largest FREE library of more than 100k guided meditations, 11k teachers & the world’s most loved meditation Timer.  In my experience the best way to use the free part is to only use the meditations on the home screen under the home screen.  Whenever I tried to search for anything it usually wanted me to sign up which was stressful and seemed like a waste of time.  I also like the quotes when you sign in.

Spotify – search for particular topics.  I like it better than  youtube sometimes becasue we have a paid subscription and there are not any ad interuptions.

UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness  Some great free meditations.  The program has a goal of integration of mindfulness and compassion into the lives of individuals throughout the healthcare and educational system including patients, students, teachers, and businesspeople.

Youtube – search for any topics like meditation for (sleep, anxiety)

Take action

If you read this far then please spend 5 minutes and try one of the apps or websites.  Be curious and try something new 😊  Your upside potential is huge – it could change your life and at a minumim you will have a fun story to tell your friends and family!

And if you try it and like it then please let me know – it will give me energy to keep writing posts like this –  Have a great day!

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