Five hundred minutes, and rabid development. January effect in full swing.
Five hundred minutes.
At the beginning of this year, I hit 500 minutes of meditation. I only discovered this last week, when I found the statistics tab on my meditation app. Knowing this vanity number really didn’t make a difference to me or my practice in any way, but it did feel like it marked a good time to look back at how far I have come.
I started meditating around the time I restarted writing here, on my online journal. At that point, I was a little stressed because of work, and generally did not have much clarity of thought. I had just finished reading [[Deep Work]], and the idea of single minded focus with minimal context switches appealed to me. Seeing The Social Dilemma cemented the idea that I need to be in control of my monkey mind, or I don’t stand a chance of winning the war for my attention.
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” - Blaise Pascal
While the quote above is definitely hyperbole, I agree with Mr Pascal in spirit. The twitching of our thumbs in a rabid rage to the next app, the next story and the next “news” article is paving the way to our downfall. And all of this is because of our inability to be at peace, and have control over our mind - the only thing we can control. Due to my VC-chic indoctrination, I knew it was time I adopt mindfulness in my lifestyle.
I first tried meditation by cold turkeying it. Just jumping into the deep end, and trying to think of nothing. That failed, not very surprising. I dropped the pride, and found myself a crutch in the form of playlists on spotify. They were not that great either; they felt unstructured and incomplete. Around this time, Calm and Headspace were making news due to unicorn valuations, and massive funding rounds. This prompted me to consider meditating apps to assist me. I wanted an app that was not a content farm, something that felt less commercial. This is how I stumbled onto Waking Up.
I downloaded and signed up on waking up, mid last quarter. I started with the 28 day introductory course. It was an excellent blend of theory, and practice. The primary focus was Vipasana, a popular form of meditation that involves noticing all sensory inputs and acknowledging their existence. By the end of a month, I started enjoying the sessions and started developing the habit. I credit this app to my meditation habit.
So, what has changed after? The unsatisfactory answer is that its hard to tell. I have not felt negatively overwhelmed by emotion or stress ever since my I started my practice, but correlation is not causation. I can tell you what has definitely changed - I have better control over my mind, or at least better than before. I have incorporated the practice into my day to day. The goal is not to reach a meditative state or reach enlightenment, but rather to train my mind to have the ability to focus, and de-focus at my wish. This will be a continuous process, with no destination. There are definite benefits, and I feel them - but don’t look for a life changing experience. Before you know it, your life will be better. Mine is.
Rabid Personal Development.
Maybe its the January effect, but I have been on a self development spree. I read only three books this year, and all with the same common theme, improving myself
- On Writing Well - I want to be a better writer.
- Pragmatic Thinking and Learning - I want to be a better learner
- Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise - I want to attain mastery in my skills.
All target a slightly different part of what I want myself to be better in. Rather than regurgitating what’s in my reviews, I would urge you to click the links to see my notes and reviews of the book.
Now though, theory time is over - its up to me to actualize my learning into something tangible.