Monday 11 February 2019

7 Days of Calm | 23 While I'm 23

I have a few 7 day long challenges on my 23 While I'm 23 list, including 7 days of meditating/Calm. I have tried meditation before but never really stuck to it fully. I really want to make it a real habit, hence the 7 Days of Calm challenge!

Day 1: Basics of Mindfulness 
I decided to do it in the evening, while waiting for Charlie to fall asleep with his bottle. I would have preferred to do it during the day, but as naps are no longer guaranteed, bedtime is my best option.
Day one was only ten minutes long and basically talks you through meditation, mindfulness and helps you concentrate on your breathing. I did find myself getting distracted a lot - usually through an itch, uncontrollable fidgeting or thinking about how I was going to word this blog post - but that's ok! Tamara, the narrator, even said it's likely to happen to start with, you just have to remember to bring your thoughts back to concentrating on your breathing. I was eager to see how that changed over the next few days!

Day 2: Returning to the Here and Now
This session was all about Noting. I had to make mental notes of my breathing e.g. "breathing in" on the inhale and "breathing out" on the exhale. I actually found this so helpful, and was considerably less distracted! Which is the point of Noting, really. Although halfway through I did swap "breathing in/out" for "one, two." It felt more natural to me for some reason. That was probably the best meditation session I have ever had so far.

Day 3: Paying Attention
I won't lie, I was half asleep during this one. I remember it being a "body scan" which is where you take a moment to concentrate on one part of your body at a time and identify how it feels. Example: is your jaw holding a lot of tension? It is clenched or relaxed?
I wasn't a fan of this session, as I could only notice how I felt, but couldn't change it. I did anyway, because I couldn't help myself, but I still found it annoying.

Day 4: Pulling Out of Autopilot
Day four was once again concentrating on breathing (though really, aren't they all?) and trying to stop distracting thoughts before you're no longer meditating, just thinking with your eyes closed. I often find myself zoning out in the middle of conversations, so this session was actually really good for me, as I found I was really concentrating on my breathing rather than letting any other thoughts take over. This session may become one I replay once a week or so, as I really want to learn to let intrusive thoughts go and really submerge myself into conversations and paying attention to others.

Day 5: The Value of Non-Doing
I really liked this session. It reminded me how beneficial it is to take a step back sometimes and regroup/refocus. As someone who gets easily stressed, frustrated and overwhelmed, focusing on my breathing and clearing my head when I get like that would be really helpful. Counting to ten never helped me but I feel like this would.

Day 6: Patience
Day 6 was pretty much a continuation of day 5, where it discussed stepping back during difficult times etc. Another very valid session, but perhaps not so useful following a very similar discussion?

Day 7: Awareness
The seventh and final day! The final session was a mix of all the previous sessions, and practicing them all in one go. This included another body scan. Unfortunately, this session was by far the worst. I kept getting distracted by other thoughts and realising way too late. I was also itchy as hell during the body scan, and just couldn't relax. I definitely prefer body scans during the Sleep sessions, as I can change and relax my body then!

All in all, I loved this challenge. I really enjoyed having something to look forward to at the end of the day (other than sleep!) and I even found myself practising during the day sometimes - mostly when my emotions were high! Calm also have a 21 Days of Calm practice that I am currently giving a go!

Have you tried meditation before? Would you try this challenge? Let me know in the comments below!

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