Meditations & Mental Health: My New Year Resolution

My new year resolution for 2018 was to focus on my mental health. For the first time, I was starting to actually *feel* the stress, something I had historically done a good job of gliding above.

A quarter into the year, I’ve made real progress on this resolution. I’ve managed to build meditation into my daily routine in a bite-sized way (thanks to a couple friends and my sister for getting me there).

I started with the HeadSpace app, but it didn’t feel like an authentic experience to me so I explored alternatives I could develop into a quotidian habit. I realized the one thing I do almost every day is stumble into the gym. I decided to build in 5 minutes of meditation every day in the gym; after my physical workout, I would do a short mental workout too.

I sit down to meditate. I surround my new mental space in Tibetan Buddhist chants (this one in particular), which I first discovered during my time in Nepal in 2006. I focus each 5-minute meditation on just one thing. It can be an element of nature, but it is also often a specific problem I’m facing. In the latter instance, I will go deep into that one problem, peeling back the layers until I’ve arrived at its root, which leads me to creative, actionable solutions. Nothing else matters during those 5 minutes. The idea that nothing matters is so powerful.

I’ve managed to keep this routine despite traveling all over the world, which I’ve found is a good test of its chances of survival. I enjoy it. I’ve meditated ~70% of the days this quarter, and it’s helped ground me without affecting my hunger or killer instinct. It takes me out of my world. There’s something beautiful about that; my mind generally races so just to remove it from its context is of great value.

I found this mindset shift reflected in a recent chess match. I couldn’t find any good ideas to break through my friend’s defences in the deciding game. I consciously let the game come to me – I patiently ‘passed’ the move to him, on multiple occasions. The hole opened up on its own soon enough (and my knight charged through to win the game and the match). That’s not the approach I would have taken 3 months ago; I would have blundered in an attempt to force the matter. This is how I think about some of my business now.

I’m really enjoying this new meditative habit, and look forward to seeing how else I can give my brain more TLC in 2018. The paths ahead of me will open up more easily I think.