Welcome to I Tried It Month, where we'll be publishing a new fashion, beauty, or wellness article every day in January that features a first-person account of shaking up an old habit, pushing beyond a comfort zone, or simply trying something new. Follow along for 31 days of storytelling, including everything from going without a cell phone for 40 days to trying the polarizing low-rise-pants trend.
Name: Alex Kurtz, Sales Associate
What did you try?
I tried doing some sort of meditation every day for a month. I did guided meditations from a number of different apps every day.
Why did you try it?
I have always loved the idea of meditation but have had trouble keeping up with consistent practice. My mom teaches mediation to students along with working on her own practice, and my grandmother has taken up a consistent meditation practice in the last 10 years. After seeing the positive impact it has had on both of them in their daily lives, I wanted to try practicing every day.
How did you prepare?
After deciding to do the challenge, I enlisted my mom and grandma to help me find the best guided meditations to use. In doing some research, I found that there are a few different paths you can take in beginning your journey. Author, life coach, and former monk Jay Shetty describes the three main forms of meditation as breath work, visualization, and mantra. In an interview, he explains, "Breath work helps to calm and still the body. Visualization helps to focus the mind, and mantra helps to heal the soul." He goes on to elaborate on breath work and visualization as the most widespread forms of meditation and the easiest to begin your practice. Per my family and friends' suggestions, I downloaded the following meditation apps: Calm, Headspace, Ten Percent Happier, and Insight Timer. I decided that I was going to alternate between these four apps during the challenge to get a well-rounded sense of what each one was like and to ultimately find the best practice for me.
The challenge for me each day was picking the best time to do my meditation. There is no "right time," but after just a few days, I found specific times that helped me focus and get the most out of my practice. For example, I found that I was much calmer and focused as I sat down to start my day rather than just diving into it when I would do a 10- to 15-minute meditation before I started my workday.
Another challenge I found was how to sit and be still in the meditation. I am not someone who can sit still for long periods of time, and I am often fidgeting and moving around. I found that sitting on the ground or straight up in a chair for meditation was very challenging for me. I was more inclined to open my eyes and move around. As someone who loves yoga, something that I had learned in my yoga practice was the amazing benefits of putting your legs up the wall to increase circulation. I also am heavily influenced by @itsmetinx, and as a loyal follower of her #legsonthewallfall movement, I decided to try this position for meditating. With my legs on the wall and hands placed on my stomach, I found that I was able to focus and disconnect significantly more than when I was sitting upright. Having my legs on the wall allowed me to tune into my body and mind without worrying about my comfort level at that moment.
One of the things I was most worried about during the challenge was increasing the length of time in the meditations. I started out with five- to 10-minute meditations in the beginning of the challenge and gradually increased the meditation times to 15 to 30 minutes. I noticed that I was really able to focus and work on my breath work and skills as the time increased. It really helped me disconnect from the chaos and outside distractions the longer I was meditating. While I don't know if I am someone who will be able to do a 30-minute meditation every day, I want to keep working on this and eventually be able to do a longer meditation practice daily.
How did you feel afterward? What changes did you notice?
This challenge helped me to see that I really love meditating. I want to practice it every day now, not just for a challenge, and it really can help structure the way I go about my day. Practicing in the morning and at night dramatically helped me put my day and stress into perspective and manage my emotions as I went on.
What did you like about it?
I loved being able to try different meditation techniques and guided practices each day. I was able to see what I liked in specific apps and how I can incorporate this into my daily routine. The little act of putting meditation time on my calendar now helps me to hold myself accountable and prioritize this part of my routine.
What did you hate?
While I loved doing this challenge, there were days when I would sit down and not be able to focus or not be comfortable or just want to get up.
Would you try it again?
Yes, 1000%. I loved doing this, and I want to continue to work on my meditation practice. I also discovered some other fun ways of meditating through the apps I was using such as a walking meditation or ones you can do without closing your eyes, sitting, and working on the act of being mindful in your day-to-day tasks.
Any advice for anyone who's thinking about trying it?
Scheduling the time I would meditate every day helped me tremendously. Think of it like a work meeting. It's in your calendar, so you can't forget it. That is now how I am looking at my meditation. It is a priority to have in my routine and deserves the same attention as everything else I would schedule into my day. Lastly, find the practice and time that works for you. I found it very hard to meditate right before bed because I would zone out and start falling asleep, but for someone else, this might be the best time. It really is such a personal practice, and if you tailor it to your specific goals and preferences, it can make a huge difference.
Products That Helped My Meditation Practice
The same thing as the dry brush, this is one of my favorite tools for before and after my meditation practice to create a holistic experience.