I meditated (almost) every day for a year, and here’s how my life changed.
Taking all electives and getting out of school at 10:30 a.m. sounds like it would be pretty easy. However, senior year comes with new stresses about life after high school. I first started to feel this towards the end of my junior year.
Right in the middle of my SAT, I started thinking terrible thoughts about what would happen if I didn’t perform well on the test, and how that would snowball into ruining my life. After the SAT (and 12 hours of sleep), I vowed to never allow stress about the future interfere in my life again.
That was a heavy promise to uphold.
A quick Google search led me to the conclusion that meditation is a healthy way to reduce stress. Not only this, but according to Mayo Clinic, meditation helps people to live in the present, boost creativity, and increase patience.
Thet Sunday after the March SAT, I held my first meditation session. I sat “criss-cross applesauce” on my bed with my hands on my knees. At first, this position felt so foreign that I was embarrassed to be alone in my room.
I set a timer for ten minutes and closed my eyes. With my sister playing the piano downstairs and a tiny bug crawling up my arm, my ten minute meditation session lasted about ten seconds. That was enough for me to say that I tried today and could pick it up again tomorrow.
The next day’s meditation lasted 30 seconds. After that, I reached two minutes. Even with the starling screeching outside or my sister scream-singing downstairs, I somehow slowly made my way up to ten minutes of meditation.
During this time, I noticed that my schoolwork was interesting, my sisters and I got along, and I went to bed looking forward to what I would do the next day. Right around the same time, I saw a Facebook advertisement for a beginner’s yoga class in the local park.
In the spirit of YOLO, I rallied up a few friends to go each week. I learned yogic breathing techniques. This includes laying on the ground in savasana or “corpse pose” while using the ujjayi or “ocean” breathing technique.
Feeling like I was living a scene in “Eat, Pray, Love,” I practiced these new breathing exercises every day. Through my dedication to deeper meditations, I was thrust into parts of my brain that I didn’t know existed. It sounds ridiculous, but I’ve never felt so at peace as when I was laying outside in a public park surrounded by strangers walking all around me.
During this same time period, I rushed to apply to colleges and fill out my FAFSA. Still absolutely uncertain about my future after high school, I chose to live in the present and amp up my meditation game.
I did more research into alternative styles of mediation. I learned about ancient Taoism and how its followers smiled internally and externally while meditating to welcome good vibrations and deter evil.
I latched onto the idea of smiling internally and decided to carry this with me throughout the day. With a childlike gait, many of my friends picked up on my perky attitude and matched my energy. Not only did I better myself and become an optimist, but I also improved the lives of my classmates simply by exuding happiness.
Still curious about how to deepen my meditations even more, I stumbled across Wim Hof while watching a little too much YouTube during Christmas break. Famous for enduring extremely cold temperatures for an extended period of time, his meditation technique includes taking sharp inhales and then holding your breath for 30 seconds or more.
In stark contrast to the yogic breathing technique I learned, I was curious to give Wim Hof’s method a try. I had a lot of time over the break to worry about college, so finding this new way to meditate was a breath of fresh air.
On the first day of the new year, I had one of the deepest meditation sessions I have ever experienced. It’s hard to put words to what happened, but afterwards, I opened my eyes and felt tears on my face.
Rotating between the Yogic, Taoist, and Wim Hof techniques, I continued to meditate throughout the next few months. Instead of worrying about leaving Red Lion, I spent my limited time enjoying the present.
Whether I meditated for clarity, restoration, positivity, or whatever else was on my mind, it felt nice to escape my worries and live in the time being. Even while I was simply learning to meditate for ten seconds, it was relaxing just to close my eyes.
After one year of meditating almost every day, my personality completely changed. I became more optimistic and grateful to be living the life I lead. I smile at people in the halls that I haven’t talked to since first grade. I emphasize my needs and don’t hear the constant rambling thoughts in my brain.
Still uncertain about my college decision, I am more relaxed than ever. Because I took ten seconds after the SAT to close my eyes, my entire life changed. Just think of what else meditation can do.
By Shana Carey