I first started meditating almost four years ago, after I quit my job to create my own company. I went from working in a building bustling with roughly 500 people to working by myself from home, alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love running my business, and now that I’ve been doing it for so long, I think it would be hard to go back to a regular office setting. But nobody warns you about the psychological toll it can take on you, especially starting out.
It’s been a tough journey to get where I am today, and one of my biggest hurdles was my own mind. You know that little voice in the back of your head? The one that can be your best friend, encouraging you to get over that fear and just go for it, but can also be a complete bully telling you you’re not good enough and you’ll never succeed? Yeah, that voice is a real asshole when you spend every waking moment in your apartment that gets no natural light trying to build a company from the ground up. It can chip away at your self-confidence and make you start to believe what it’s saying. Maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe I’ll never succeed. And with nobody there to tell you otherwise, it’s really hard to shut that voice up.
I discovered an app called Headspace while I was in college. Back then I didn’t use it a ton, but I’ve always had it on my phone. When my anxiety got to the point of feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest and I realized I was spending every day in a panicked frenzy trying to do everything myself and never taking a break, I knew I needed a change. I remembered Headspace and figured meditation might help me get control of that voice in my head and find some balance. It was not easy, but it changed my life.
Meditating is like working a muscle. If you’ve never worked that muscle before, chances are it’s going to be really difficult and frustrating and you’ll probably want to give up. You might not think sitting in silence for 10 minutes is hard, but quieting your mind and the thousands of thoughts that pop up and try to get your attention is tougher than it seems. I’m only speaking from personal experience and from what my friends who meditate have told me, but we all agree, it’s hard work. What’s crazy, though, is witnessing your mind change over time with regular practice. I was no longer letting my thoughts take control of the wheel and steer my emotions any way they wanted. I was aware of them, noting them, and deciding if they were worth my time to keep thinking about.
With even more practice, that voice in my head became a lot nicer. Sure, it would still try to dig up that embarrassing moment or mean comment on occasion, but it lost its power. I recognized it for what it was: all my worst fears and anxieties and doubts trying to tear me down. But like I said before, that voice can also be your cheerleader and one of your biggest sources of encouragement. Through meditation, I’ve been able to shift that voice to almost always being that for me now. It’s taken time and lots of practice (and I still have a long way to go), but including meditation in my daily routine has made me so much happier and I don’t know where I’d be without it.
Do you meditate? If you do and have a favorite meditation app, share it in the comments below!
Real talk: I am not a meditation specialist, I merely practice meditation on my own and enjoy the benefits of it. I love to share the things that have helped me in hopes that they will help other people as well, but that in no way guarantees meditation is a cure-all. If you are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please reach out to a friend or family member for support or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. I love you all!