Today marks a year of daily meditation. That’s 365 consecutive days of clearing my mind, transcending the distractions of the world around me, and focusing until calm and clarity wash over me. A full year of daily meditation without missing a day! It has been a tremendous experience—turning what was a Bold Goal 12 months ago into a bold achievement—and I thought I would share some insights from my journey, including the benefits and how I accomplished it all.
(For more on the benefits of meditation, check out this Project Bold Life story on Improving Health for Your Family, Your Children and Yourself.)
I have been a committed meditator for eight years and trained in transcendental meditation by the TM.org in early 2012. (I highly recommend their training!) This past year I made the decision to amp up my commitment and set a goal to meditate at least once every day, without fail. All of my meditations were for 20 minutes, no less, no more. I didn’t know if I could do it when I started, but a funny thing happened as each day passed and I progressed towards my goal: it got easier and easier.
So what did I learn from the whole experience?
Key Takeaways from Accomplishing This Bold Goal
- Get it in Right Away. Morning Meditations were the key to the streak. My last streak of 146 days of consecutive meditating was broken due to a very full business day that required leaving my house earlier than usual one morning. That day was an aberration—I have almost always been able to control my mornings more easily, and morning meditation is a great start to my day. But because of that streak-breaking day, I have developed approaches to avoid the issue of early obligations replacing my meditations. I have realized I can always find time to meditate if the commitment is there. In some cases, I just replaced looking at my iPhone with meditating, e.g., while waiting at an airport or being driven somewhere.
- Emotional- and Energy Calibration. Morning meditations ground me for the day. For anyone who wants to become a committed meditator, the first meditation of the day sets up your day, in both the emotional sense and energy sense. I am more energetic yet more thoughtful to my approach about the day after my meditation.
(Did you know there are many different types of meditation? Check out this Project Bold Life story that describes the various kinds.)
- Morning Meditation Shakes Morning Grogginess. If I wake and still feel tired, my morning meditation refreshes me. Meditation helps eliminate that early morning drag that can stay with you for hours even after coffee. I now think of meditation as better than hitting the “snooze” button on the alarm clock or overloading on caffeine.
- Body and Mind Reminders. My body now sends signals if I have not meditated in the morning. It acts as my personal reminder. It is almost like a tension that only gets relieved if I meditate. If I ever delayed my morning meditation to 9 am or 10 am, I would find my mind calling out to me, urging me to get it done and keep the streak alive. This past year I have meditated in the car, at the airport, on planes, and in other locations that I previously would not have considered.
- The Challenges of Afternoon Meditations. A second meditation session in the afternoon is the hardest to plan and I was most inconsistent in my second sessions. I meditated twice about 40% of my days as a result. This is something I will work on going forward. I must develop some plans to manage the challenges.
- Earlier Rising. My morning meditation routine has led to me consistently waking up earlier. I have been a reasonably early riser for most of my adult life, typically 6-6:30 am. This past year that moved up to about 5:15 am-6:15 am. Some days were even earlier. For example, 4:30 am has been more frequent and after meditating I do not feel any “got up too early” morning exhaustion. I have concluded that meditating does not “cost me time” in the sense that it takes up part of my day. Instead, it gives me more time—more time awake, and more importantly, a more productive time where I am focused and alert.
- Relatability and Inspirational Connections. An amazing thing happened when I began to tell people about my progress toward my Bold Goal. People want to talk about it! As a businessman and CEO, people assume I’m more of the stuffy briefcase-and-tie type, but suddenly, after mentioning meditation and my growing daily streak, people think I’m a deeper person with a totally unexpected dimension to me. It makes me more relatable. When I talk about the streak, people say, “Wow, that’s a cool goal! That’s amazing!” It was—and still is—a personal goal that’s bold. And while it may not shake the Earth, it means something to me. It gave me purpose, a sense of accomplishment, and as I got closer to successfully achieving it, it highlighted that I had a plan to make it happen. People either related to that, were inspired by it, or both!
- More Focus. Consistent meditation has increased my ability to focus in everyday life. We all have lots of interruptions and distractions in our lives. But because of my daily sessions this year, I clearly saw an improvement in my concentration levels. In fact, over the course of the year, I finally finished a book that is scheduled to be published shortly (“Project Bold Life: The Proven Formula to Live Your Best Life and Achieve Ultimate Success and Happiness”, which is coming soon to Amazon). My author website is now up. The ability to focus more has clearly helped!
- Technology Helps. Technology also kept me on track more. Specifically, I use an app to keep track of my meditations and measure the time. It is called Meditation Timer Pro. I have been using it for seven years and it automatically keeps track of your streaks. The pay version is only $1.99. The streak info was a key motivator for me every day, as I did not have to keep track of my streak as the app did it for me. More importantly, I did not want to see my streak stat return to zero if I missed a day. There are many other great apps out there and I would suggest exploring before committing.
(Interested in more meditation apps? Check out this story on BoldBusiness.com about Monetizing Mindfulness.)
The Benefits of Meditation… In Case You Don’t Know
If you’re not completely sold on the benefits of consistent meditation, there have been some very interesting stories and research done on the topic. In particular, I have found the research on benefits for brain function to be fascinating, particularly as we age. For instance, did you know that mindfulness practice can lead to increases in the density of the brain’s gray matter? According to this study, the gray matter benefits can manifest in as quickly as eight weeks of consecutive meditation, with the benefits fading when that consecutive streak is broken. If that’s the case, I’m never going to want to stop!
As per another study, meditation can also positively affect the brain’s cortex when done over an extended period of time. Science neuroscience now shows that a 50-year-old brain can return to the sharpness of a 25-year-old brain, sign me up for a lifetime of meditation!
If you’re interested in even further great research, I strongly encourage you to read “Super Mind: How to Boost Performance and Live a Richer and Happier Life Through Transcendental Meditation” by Norman Rosenthal.
One Year Complete – What’s My New Bold Goal?
Looking ahead, I do not have any plans to stop my meditation streak, and hopefully, I will put in another year of meditating every single day. My new Bold Goal is to increase my frequency of meditating twice a day. Of course, I would need a solid action plan to make it happen.
My year of meditation has been a pleasant and rewarding one. I truly believe I have become better for it. I hope it inspires you to start your own long-term streak of consecutive daily meditation. If you do take up this Bold Goal, our minds will be younger together!
Questions or comments? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org!