Anxiety

100 Days of Meditating

I just finished my one-hundredth day of meditating n a row!!! One hundred days! It seems like such an accomplishment honestly.

This is not my first (or second) time trying to commit to meditation, but it’s the first time where I truly understand the benefits of it. The last time I tried, it was actually for a personal challenge I was doing with Maxie years ago. I hated it so much that I vowed I would never do it again. I thought meditation was supposed to bring, I don’t know, clarity or something. Instead, I felt frustrated and lost.

Then at the end of February, I was going out to dinner with the guy I was (but “am,” sorry I don’t know how else to say it) seeing. The restaurant was super crowded and loud, and I was feeling overwhelmed, and he was tense, and we both decided just to bail on the restaurant. He ended cooking dinner and encouraged me to download Headspace because I couldn’t shake the stress. To be honest, I downloaded it but didn’t use it for a couple of weeks. (Because I’m stubborn, whoops.)

Anyway, the app is an AMAZING way to figure out how to meditate. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it. The app guides you through meditations and builds your “meditation muscle.” Instead of feeling lost, each session builds on the past one, so you slowly ease into it.

I started off with just the sleeping meditation sessions. For me, it was the least intimidating of the bunch. And I, surprisingly, found myself falling into deep sleep very quickly. I’m a notoriously deep sleeper but falling asleep has always been a challenge for me. I start running through a million lists and over-thinking and over-analyzing and the next thing I know it’s 3 am. The first night I did the sleeping meditation, I legitimately woke up the next morning and realized I never heard the end of it!

I kept doing the sleeping meditation almost every night. Without realizing it, I had gotten hooked. I decided to go for the yearly membership. It’s not “cheap,” but I figured that it was a fraction of the cost of one therapy session or a month at my gym.

Two things that I think were critical to my success of my Headspace journey were the 10-day packs and the built-in goal setting. The 10-day packs, especially the foundation packs, are SO helpful in feeling like the meditation journey is do-able. I wasn’t looking at anything besides Day 1 or Day 5 or Day 9. It always felt manageable and completing each 10-day pack felt like a mini-accomplishment. And before I knew it, a month had gone by, and I completed the whole Foundation 1.

When I was 30 days in, I felt like I should try to keep going until I got to 90. It was a little competitive and probably not ~zen~ of me, but you know what? The ends justified the means here.

As I’ve told people that I’ve been using Headspace every day, the first question I get is, “Does it work?”

I think it’s a little more complicated than working, or not working, but here are the effects that I’ve experienced:

– I am calmer. I’m not a naturally calm person, and I wouldn’t say that I’m sitting in a field making flower crowns right now, but I feel noticeably more at ease in general. It’s a subtle change, but a change nonetheless.

– I approach stress differently now too. Part of the feeling calmer is that Headspace walks you through different ways on how to approach certain feelings and emotions. It’s hard to explain now that I’m trying to explain it, but it’s like I have a little toolbox of how to handle a stressful situation. For example, one of the descriptions used is “noting” your emotion like brushing a feather on a piece of glass. Instead of latching onto the feeling of anxiety, and immediately tensing up which spirals quickly out of control, I (try) to softly think, “Oh, this is anxiety.” It had taken 30 days of that exercise before it started to sink in, but it worked! And continues to work. (I think of that dumb feather every day it seems like!)

– I’ve had fewer panic attacks. The first time I remember having a panic attack was in fourth grade. (Although I’m sure my poor mom has horror stories of ones before that.) They’ve been a part of my life for so long that they almost seem normal. In the past 100 days, I’ve only had one full panic attack and about three almost/near/half panic attacks. For me, this is HUGE on so many levels, but especially the ones that were halfsies. Normally when they start, there’s no stopping them, and then I’m down for the count for at least a day or two. A half-attack is a sign that I’ve somehow been able to stop the spiral mentally. There have been days where I’ve said, “I think I’m going to have a panic attack” and I mean it. It truly feels like I might… but then I don’t. In some ways, it’s easier to have the panic attack (even though it feels like I’m dying and can’t breathe) because now I feel like I’m living through a deep-rooted uneasiness instead. But I think it’s progress. The uneasiness can be unsettling, but I believe that it’s me processing whatever’s happening and not just succumbing to sheer panic. (If that makes sense.)

– It’s the best ten minutes of my day. Everyone has ten minutes to spare to do this. I think it’s recommended that you do the meditation first thing in the morning, but that doesn’t always work for my schedule. I look forward to my ten-minute meditation so much. And now that I’ve gotten more used to how it works, I can do it almost anywhere, including Metro North! I pop in my noise canceling headphones and tune everything out for ten minutes, and it feels. so. good.

I really could talk about Headspace and meditating until I’m blue in the face. I highly recommend you give it a chance. Download the app and sign up for the free trial. Commit to doing it every day of the free trial. Find a time where it works for you and give yourself the freedom to enjoy the 10 minutes.

PS I am obsessed with Andy’s voice. He does the guided meditations in the Headspace app, and his voice is just so insanely soothing. I think he could talk anyone off the ledge!

PPS The app literally just got a new look last week. I’m so anti-change, but I actually find the new layout to fit the whole theme of the app so much more. It now looks calm if that’s even possible!

PPPS Now that I’m 100 days in, I have my eyes set on the 180-day marker. Can I do it?!?!

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32 Comments

Carlyn

I know what you mean. I went through a period where I felt like I needed to meditate, but about a year into it I realized that I GET to, and this shift in my thinking towards meditation transformed my practice. My sentiments are in line with Carly’s. I love the peace it brings. The awareness it brings. It allows me to respond instead of react to life. I also love Andy and this app, it makes it so easy!! Congrats Carly on making 100 days!

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Catherine

Congrats, Carly! I have the Headspace app, but I haven’t used it much, so thanks for this little push! This may be ambitious, but I’m wondering if I start practicing now if it may be able to help me stay calm during labor. I’m due in 5 weeks, so I better get started! 🙂
xoxo,
Classic Catherine

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Ari

Thank you for this post on so many levels-your willingness to be vulnerable and frank about details, tips for what’s worked for you, and specific examples of your experience and progress. So helpful!

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Taylor

I definitely need to try this. As someone who also struggles with anxiety I think this would be really helpful. I have tried meditating on my own and also ended up feeling frustrated so this sounds like a great way to try it again!

Taylor | http://www.livingtaylored.com

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Jess Zimlich

I went to my first guided meditation class a few weeks ago and it was such a cool experience! I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve had Headspace downloaded for over a year now and I’ve never opened it. After a stressful few weeks, it might be time to make a new habit of it 🙂 Congrats on 100 days!

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Jen Davis

I’ve been using Headspace on and off for about 6 months now and JUST re-committed to it this morning before I read your post! My husband is a psychology major and is obsessed with meditating (he’s a helicopter pilot so he literally needs to be able to be calm and focused in stressful situations!) When I meditate consistently, I feel an ease to my days (if that makes sense) and my mind wanders way less. Living in the moment is super cliche and overused but meditation really is the way to get there! Headspace is AMAZING and I highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about learning how to meditate. <3

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Kim

This was exactly the push I needed to get back on track with Headspace! Thank you so much for being so honest and open in your posts – you are such a fabulous inspiration!!

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Ellie

Of course you can do it!! It’s taken me a full year and intense therapy to get to the half panic attack stage and I used to be a panic attack a week girl. Proud of you!! Downloading the app now.

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Erin

I LOVE Headspace too, Carly!! I bought the yearly subscription last August and had fallen off the wagon around the time you were getting started this year! I just started back yesterday with the “Anxiety” pack and love the feather analogy and the idea of noting. Clearly, I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks also…and I saw Headspace as a much cheaper form of therapy. It really works! Glad it’s helping you, too. And thanks for being brave enough to share.

I’m sure you’ll hit the 180 mark! You’ll be my inspiration to keep going.

Ps, I also use the “Mindful Moments” to get the daily messages sent to my phone like a text. They are SO good and really bring everything back into focus. It’s nice to see your phone light up and it not be yet another email or text. 🙂

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Sara

My husband has me trying to work on this too. It just depends on the day… maybe I need to try the app, too… but #stubborn. lol

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Bridget | Amber Colored Roses

I have heard you mention Headspace a few times an never have looked into it. Thank you for doing a blog post on it so now I’ve actually downloaded it! I too struggle a lot with stress, anxiety, and panic attacks (those I have been dealing from what I can remember since High School though looking back at it I’m sure I’ve had some before then). It’s always nice to find out that I am not alone in that factor! I am excited to try Headspace for at least the 10 day trial!

xoxo,
Bridget

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Lauren | Fashion and Fernweh

I’m obsessed with Headspace!! It’s actually the best for meditation. I’m no where near a 100 day streak but when I do it I can feel the difference the next day it’s incredible! Do you actually do it in the morning like they recommend or at a different time of day?

Lauren | Fashion and Fernweh

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carly

I either do it an hour before bed or mid-day when I’m desperate for a break!

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CC

I really appreciate this post, as I tried Headspace and found the deep, resonant voice so creepy that I deleted the app. I’m going to adopt your attitude — the voice is calm and soothing — and give it another try.

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Amanda

Ever since you first recommended Headspace, I’ve been hooked. I also deal with anxiety and I have a high stress job with tight deadlines at a magazine and I look forward to my 10 minute break everyday to get my mind off of the stress. I’ve been on a 67 day streak now ever since you first mentioned it! I can’t thank you enough for introducing me to this app, it really has helped me so much. Thanks again Carly!!

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Alex Cole

Do you have to pay for a full subscription to Headspace? I’ve been using Calm for a bit but the free options are limited :/

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Christina

Congrats Carly!

I took a Mindfulness course when I studied abroad in Florence where we learned to meditate! I did it for a few months straight when I returned, but have lost it since then. You’ve inspired me to try to pick it up again!

Christina
http://www.thecaffeinista.com

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Kate

I had used Headspace a few years ago then fallen off a bit. I restarted again last week when I saw your insta-story and I’m so happy to be back! Love this whole post. I’ve had really similar experiences with meditation and am encouraged by yours. If you ever want to explore a bit, I love the apps Simple Habit and Insight Timer, too!

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Mary

I’ve heard so much about it but now I think I’ll actually give it a shot! Thanks for the recommendation and congrats on 100 days!

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Nicole

I’m doing it! I have anxiety and panic attacks and I have no patience and I worry about everything and I can’t sit still. Other than that I’m awesome. Looking forward to trying this!

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Jen Kessler

My sister and I used to share a room when we were little and I can remember having to listen to this thumb sucking tape that was like a type of meditation and it was so soothing and always put me right to sleep. Hahaha!

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Erika

I am so happy to hear another person who thought Andy’s voice was so soothing! I loved how he talked me through my meditation in a way that didn’t distract me but kept me going! Congrats on 100 days, that is SUCH an awesome accomplishment!
xo, erika
MyRevampedLife.com

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Monica Pendlington

I had my first anxiety attack a couple months ago (and of course, I now have anxiety about having another attack. What kind of sick joke is that?!) and looking back now, I’ve realized a lot of what I’ve dealt with was anxiety. Looking at it from a holistic approach (with the help of my aunt), I’ve learned it can be caused by having high levels of estrogen and a reason I’ve had trouble conceiving.

Thanks for being so open about this and I look forward to using the app.

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