- A study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that just 15 minutes of meditation a day can be enough to produce results.
- Though I initially found it hard to quiet my mind, especially in this highly anxiety-inducing time, things started getting easier after the first week.
- I have found that after meditation, I feel a sense of calm that continues through the day.
- Quieting my thoughts for a time has helped me to focus on what’s important, and it’s taught me how to keep negative thoughts at bay.
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A month ago, when the coronavirus crisis had started to impact daily life in New York City, where I live, I could feel a familiar sense of anxiety creeping in. I had experienced anxiety in the past, but this time I knew it was collective, affecting not just myself, but the whole world.
In an effort to take some control over my mental health, I decided to start meditating. I did some research and found that just 15 minutes a day could make a difference.
A 2018 study published by the Journal of Positive Psychology found after meditating for just 15 minutes a day, “participants reported lower levels of negative feelings and higher levels of wellbeing, as well as being better at observing sensations, describing thoughts and emotions, and being better at nonreacting to feelings.”
I already knew how to meditate from a trip I took to Myanmar
In the summer of 2016, I spent a month travelling through Myanmar. During my time there, I lived at a monastery where monks taught me meditation techniques.
I use the techniques I learned from the monks in my daily meditations. I sit on the floor, legs crossed, with my hands on my knees, palms upward. I also sit in total silence, as that is how I was taught.
I try to meditate in the mornings, but if I wind up sleeping late I do it after I finish work at 5 p.m. Each time, I set a timer on my phone for 15 minutes.
It wasn’t easy at first, as I found it difficult to quiet so many anxious thoughts
Though it was difficult to quiet my thoughts when I first started meditating, it got easier day by day. It didn’t hurt that I had so much free time on my hands, and it was hard to tell myself that I didn’t have 15 minutes to spare.
Though I didn’t notice any changes in the first week or so, after a month of meditating for 15 minutes every day, I can say that I have felt real results. I have felt a small but significant decrease in my anxiety.
Taking time away from the impossible questions plaguing my mind like, “When will this end?” or “Will anyone I know get sick, or even worse, die?” or “When am I going to be able to hug my loved ones again?” has been hugely helpful. Not only does it help me banish those thoughts in the 15 minutes I’m meditating, but also throughout the day.
I’m glad that I stuck with it, because it has helped me focus on what’s important
Additionally, I have found that meditation has had a positive effect on my ability to focus. It seems that by “emptying” my mind of thoughts for a brief period, the more important ones have started to take precedence.
Instead of focusing on the things that I can’t control, like the unknown timeline of this terrifying pandemic, I’m able to look at what I can do in the present moment, like write helpful articles and connect with others online.
Though I can’t say that everyone will experience the same results, I have found that taking just 15 minutes a day to stop thinking has been beneficial for me. It might be for you too, and really, what do you have to lose?
- Read more:
- How to meditate: A guide to mindfulness meditation
- How to deal with anxiety and loneliness during the coronavirus outbreak
- How to stop a panic attack: 3 ways to deal with sudden anxiety
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