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What Happens When a Type-A Girl Takes on Meditation?

September 03, 2015

I started experimenting with meditation for a litany of reasons, including everything from a doctor’s order to a desire to better handle stress. Upon discussing my experiment with friends, I discovered that I wasn’t alone in wanting to find more peace and self-awareness—to be a little more disconnected from my iPhone and a little more connected to myself.

But given my Type-A, list-making, go-getter personality, what better way to start meditating than with an iPhone app? Headspace, which offers guided meditations narrated by British guru (and Buddhist monk) Andy Puddicombe, emerged as the clear front-runner. I decided to embrace the irony of using a smart phone to unplug, and I signed up for the app’s free trial, Take10. Ten minutes for ten days seemed like the perfect way to ease into meditation.

type-a girl takes on meditation

But when would I fit these ten minutes into my already overloaded schedule? While Andy recommends meditating first thing in the morning, I wasn’t inclined to give up my morning runs. After completing only one session in my first week, I set my alarm for ten minutes earlier and committed to trying again.

Each morning was a challenge. Not only did I have to force myself to choose meditation over the snooze button, but I also faced the daunting task of actually finding stillness. I wanted to buy into the principles of meditation, to learn how to accept how I felt without judgment, but it seemed counter to all of my natural instincts.

But by Day 3, I realized that Headspace’s structure actually appealed to my strengths. I grinned to myself when I received a congratulatory email: “You did it. You’ve finished Day 3 of Take10. Treat yourself to a discreet victory dance.” It was then that I understood Andy’s brilliance in designing this app: He had piqued my interest in meditation by tapping into that classic check-the-box mentality that motivates so many of us. Using a goal-setting technique, he had sold me on the benefits of resting the mind. I still had a long way to go, but after three days, I was convinced that mindfulness was something worth pursuing—even if it meant paying for a subscription after I finished Take10, which is exactly what I did.

Still, it would take many weeks—with streaks of on-and-off meditating—for me to really feel comfortable just sitting and breathing. Learning to meditate is like learning anything else in that it takes time and patience. It’s an evolving day-to-day experience. Sometimes I feel ready to move to an ashram and live in silence, Eat Pray Love-style; and other days, it is all I can do not to get up and pause Andy’s guided sequence in favor of doing something else.

The variability of my experience with meditation is ultimately what keeps drawing me back to it. I can’t control how I feel when I wake up, but I can control how I deal with those feelings by sitting and practicing being present each morning.

I’m still a novice, and I have a lot of work to do in order to really change my mindset. But along the way—and true to my nature—I look forward to getting a little ping of satisfaction each time I advance within the app’s sequence.

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Mary Borowiec is a management consultant with a passion for writing. She enjoys working on business strategy for her clients and using the principles of Design Thinking to reframe and solve problems. Home base: Washington DC. If stranded on a desert island, her book of choice would be Gone with the Wind. Read more of Mary's posts.

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