I Meditaded 30 minutes a day for a month: what it did to me

As part of the 12Challenges, every month of 2020 we are off for a new challenge.
February was #Focus: meditate 30 minutes a day for a month.

Let me state before anything else, that often I am a very skeptical person. Usually, I would have kept myself away from anything having some oriental music in the background. But during this month of meditation, in a few words, this is what happened to me:

  • Concentration: I could get a level of attention on-demand I never experienced before. It was enough to tell myself: “Let’s do this” and I would be totally on it in a second.
  • Planning: maybe as a side effect of the improved concentration, I was able to see what I had to do during the day in a much clearer way. Between the many other things that come with better concentration, I was surprised to be that decided on what to do next (and why).
  • Mood: I would say I am a very positive and generally quite solar person, but after meditating, I would enjoy a feeling of interior brightness (sorry for the very abstract term, it’s my best description) that would make me smile from my core. In the most abstruse and philosophical way possible.
  • Balance: This would probably be the word that encloses all the mixed feelings I experienced. I would just feel a natural balance and beauty in my day, the same kind of weird natural beauty you find in Fibonacci’s stuff, like Romanesco broccoli.

A few years ago, not only I would have never considered closing my eyes and breathe shoeless for 30 minutes in a meeting room, but I would have most certainly stayed away from anyone who would have done that. My rational nature steers me away from anything I cannot explain with science.

This is how skeptical I am: before convincing myself to try it, I went through some academic papers, looking for reputable people listing the benefits of this apparently futile practice. Here’s a list of the ones I liked the most: Lane J. D. et al 2007, Yunesian M. et al 2008, Taren A. A. et al 2015, Fleet J. A. M. et al 2019. The last one, in particular, I found quite interesting. Sorry, I really cannot help my doubtful rational instinct.

So after I found some proven evidence, and after realising that Bill Gates, Jeff Weiner and Marc Benioff all meditate every day, I thought that maybe mediation was worth some of my time, just for a try. I enrolled in a meditation course, 2h a week, and I started learning the principle of meditation. Incredible change, incredible feeling, incredible improvement (on an already pretty amazing basis 😏 jk). But my “I don’t have time, it’s exam period, blablabla” excuses, helped me justify avoiding the daily meditation homework, and I ended up meditating almost only during the lessons. Too little to see any real benefit.

But finally, after about six months, with the push of the 12Challenges I found the discipline to meditate every day for a month. My friend Nicco, an expert in the topic, helped us massively with audios and videos to guide us, which we could follow to learn all we need.

I meditated in the morning, or at lunchtime in a meeting room with my colleagues taking on the Challenges. Usually, I come back from lunch with a huge food coma, super sleepy. After meditation, I could literally feel I was more focused, more productive, and more attentive.
And here it comes my mathematical proof for my future self when I will feel like “I don’t have time to meditate cause I have a lot to do”:
Hypothesis: Meditation helps you through busy periods.
Demonstration: I usually work approx 13/15 h a day. After meditation, I feel at least 20% more productive and focused. Even spending something as long as 30 minutes a day meditating would increase my productive time of about 3h!! A 600% ROI.
Q.E.D.
Not to mention if you meditate for 15 more sustainable minutes. Or even 10. Really, no need to turn into a full-time monk to see incredible benefits.

And I need to admit it, for the first 15 days, I still had to kind of force myself to meditate. My brain would still be convinced that other stuff had priority. The amazing thing is that after about 2 weeks, I started seeing my meditation as a real treat, my own space, dedicated to me, in which I could just relax my mind. I would go through a meditation session, the same way I go through a workout. I would go into it knowing how good I would feel at the end, enjoying every minute of it. And the same way as when I finish a workout I want to eat healthy, after meditating I felt I wanted to be productive.

My takeaways:

  • Note to my future self: don’t forget how well you feel after meditating. Please keep doing it and don’t find stupid excuses not to. Especially the busy kind.
  • Probably meditation is not for everyone, but it definitely works for me. Maybe, if you want to be more productive, improve your mood, and add clarity to your day, give it a go. If it doesn’t work after a while, try Boxing instead.
  • I want to keep meditating about 10/15 minutes a day, ideally in the morning, or before lunch. I know this will be extremely difficult to maintain, but I’ll try to remember myself how effective it is on me.
  • Meditating improved my productivity, my mood, my balance, my time management, the way I communicated with people and made me smile more.

Next month, we are getting rid of ALL notification/entertainment from our devices. No WhatsApp, no Facebook, no Instagram and no YouTube. Plus any social media/video streaming service you can think of. Stay tuned to know how it’ll go.

Bacissimi,
Alla prossima sfida

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Federico Sanna

Autonomous Driving Systems Engineer at Arrival— Imperial College Bioengineering Graduate — 12challenges patient zero