What I learned from meditating for 21 minutes for 21 days straight

I have a rule in life - never dismiss anything at face value.

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Given the vast amounts of self improvement literature I read, a good chunk of it takes the shape of inane axioms that everyone knows about. Sometimes I also come across effusive claims of astronomical benefits one will derive if they practice whatever the author is preaching.

My mode of navigating through all this is simple; whenever I come across an interesting piece of advice, whether in a book or at a workshop that claims to improve the quality of my life, I will test it out on myself.

I suspend judgement for a minimum of one week, and follow the instructions and principles exactly as they are taught to me. I call this process the "Experimentation phase".

One week is usually enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. This method has helped me build a few good habits into my life with full conviction.

In July this year, I decided to run an experiment on a meditation technique that was taught to me in a workshop I attended.

It was a 21 minute meditation routine that claimed to:

  • Lower pulse rates
  • Improve concentration and
  • Ahem… enhance spiritual growth

Plus it needed a minimum of 45 days to 'take root' so I decided to extend my own experimentation period to 21 days.

This is a log of how those 21 meditation sessions felt like over those 21 days.

Day 1 - my leg has fallen asleep, how much longer must I sit still :(

Day 2 - I must suppress this sneeze and save the meditation session!

Day 3 - Is it time to open my eyes yet (at the halfway mark)

Day 4 - Don't fall asleep, Archana!!!

Day 5 - I'm probably doing this wrong

Day 6 - Well I suppose it feels kinda nice

Day 7 - My nose is blocked! Dammit!

Day 8 - Is that a cow I hear outside?!!

Day 9 - I think I have restless leg syndrome

Day 10 - Hey, I met the time limit of 21 minutes at last!

Day 11 - I wonder if my pulse rate has gone down yet

Day 12 - There's a song stuck in my head and it won't go away

Day 13 - I don't feel any different from before maybe is should measure my pulse rate

Day 14 - Pulse rate is lower than my average rate from last week! Sh!t, this thing is working!

Day 15 - My breathing seems to be deeper now, and not just while I'm meditating

Day 16 - I'm too tired for this today but if I don't do it today I'll lose the streak!

Day 17 - This hotel is quite nice though the person I’m sharing the room with is probably thinking I’m pretentious for meditating while everyone is out socialising. *Sigh* Nope, must concentrate!

Day 18 - Damn, I’ve overshot the designated 21 minutes!!!

Day 19 - Opened my eyes at 18 mins 10 seconds

Day 20 - I think my mind is only really quiet for 21 seconds in the entire 21 minute sequence, but it's a nice feeling

Day 21 - Let's see if I can increase that feeling of stillness I felt yesterday

Like a Maroon 5 song, the meditation practice has grown on me. I can't say my mind is completely still for the full 21 minutes, but there are a few moments of absolute quiet somewhere in between the practice and I've begun to enjoy that feeling.

It's a staggering change of pace to my mind which is used to thinking about a dozen and a half things at once.

I’m not sure I feel any different as a person although think it’s made me just a tiny bit more restful and cheerful than before. Based on the lowered pulse rate and overall increase in general well being, plus the fact that it takes me less than an hour to do the meditation practice is worth including in my routine.

*Good vibrations* :-)

Author of 'How to be a Lighthouse'. I write for those pursuing excellence and meaning.

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