What You Get from 365 Days of Meditation

Few years ago, I came across a special offer by Headspace for 40% off the annual rate. The asian in me can’t resist bargains, and that’s how Andy Puddicombe, the founder of Headspace, got his claws into me.

I decided to keep a journal of my one-year journey, to capture the BIG MOMENTS towards enlightenment and to also improve my writing skills, since I’ve been told that I write like a millennial using mainly emojis and GIFs.

Without further delay, please enjoy the journey:

Day 15 — I’m in the middle of a 10 day lesson that uses a technique they call, “visioning.” Here, Headspace wants me to envision a clear blue sky and that the rays on sun are like cleansing my body and turning me into a clear vessel. It also sounds like they want me to reach for some 420 without explicitly saying so… but I found it surprisingly easy to visualize. So much so that I now do this visioning exercise throughout the day. Especially during boring meetings and I wish I was a see-through vessel and I could just leave with no one noticing.

From Marvel’s Doctor Strange

Day 30 — After 30 days continuous of guided meditation courtesy of Puddicombe’s sweet, sweet voice, I notice subtle changes to my focus and perspective within a moment. Several times throughout the day, I literally take no more than 5 seconds to let my mind go. I let it wander. I envision my mind outside of my body and it just floats, like Doctor Strange in astral form, observing everything but with no judgement. And for someone like me that’s very tough, whose Meyer-Briggs indicates a strong Judgement personality bias!

Day 45 — After finishing today’s session, the sense of peace seems to lingers longer, even after opening my eyes. That sensation of being an observer lingers just long enough to get weirded out by the paradox of being detached yet seeing the world through my eyes. I must be getting very close to enlightenment.

Day 67 — I take it back. I’m so far away from enlightenment. I was doing a 15 minute session with very minimal guidance, and ended up super distracted with random thoughts every second. During the session, my phone rang and I silenced it, but I must have accidentally stopped the Headspace app! So I sat there for what must’ve been over 20 minutes thinking the app would kick in any minute and Puddicombe’s sweet accent would save me from my own mind.

Day 76 — Started the 30 day Creativity Pack after my ex-girlfriend suggested I should do a Humor Improvement Pack instead. To her disappointment, there is none, just like my sense of humor.

Day 90 — Headspace just informed me I hit the 90 day streak! I feel like I’m becoming slightly addicted. I like the sensation of being transported away to a land of peace and serenity, where everybody is honest and happy. But then I open my eyes and realize I’m still sitting in my bedroom. That’s disappointing.

Day 102 — “Letting nature unfold, letting time unfold.” Today’s daily lesson is that when we observe nature, we are in fact also part of nature. He goes on to say nature unfolds when it wants to, at its own timing. Although we want to control things as much as possible, there is only so much we can. Is this the same concept as fate? Because I hate the concept of fate very much. Fate makes me feel like there’s nothing I can do, and that I should just throw my hands into the air! But when I hear it from the Headspace guy and it’s in the context of nature, it actually makes me calmer. Did I just fall for an ancient Buddhist gimmick? Or have I become more in touch with nature, with time, with my mind? Maybe growth is really the ability to observe nature for what it really is, reading between the lines, such that fate can now be… anticipated.

Day 108 — My mind is just as unfocused as it was on Day 1, with stray thoughts entering whenever they please. Puddicombe warned me this would happen and I didn’t listen to him. Just like when my asian parents warned me to stay away from white girls and I didn’t listen to them.

Wolverine by artist Oliver Coipel

Day 123 — “Sensation, emotion, and intention.” Those were the instructions to get into the zone for today’s session. I love how those 3 simple words perfectly encapsulates what I should be doing to ‘fall’ into the meditative state. Sensation because we are supposed to take in the world as we perceive it (with the eyes closed), and thus sounds, smells, and touch are all enhanced as if I had the mutant ability of heightened senses like WolverineEmotion because we are supposed to register how we are feeling (not register mutants), in that exact moment and in the days of future past. And intention, because grounding ourselves with positive intent for not just for ourself, but for all of humanity.

Day 128 — I experienced something new and profound in today’s session! In it, I did some visualization involving, “brightness, spaciousness, and warmth.” I then held onto that visualization and started noticing my breath at the same time. Then I let my mind wander. What resulted was something really amazing — that I was able to hold onto that amazing feeling and marry it to the physical sensation of me breathing. For me, I can now transfer that amazing feeling into the “real world.” What typically required me to be in a quiet place and in lotus position can now be summoned anywhere. In other words, I just leveled up.

Day 149 — I now believe Puddicombe has me under surveillance. Headspace’s daily meditations seem too perfectly suited for whatever I’m experiencing that day. Today, Puddicombe told me to notice how on any given day we could be completely stressed out about a situation and then another day be able to laugh about it. This proves it’s all a matter of state of mind. Well, today I had a heated discussion and veered into my red zone. I then went to do today’s daily meditation and BAM! The situation fitted so perfectly and the lightbulb in my head went on — my red zone anger and my ability to laugh later are all controllable in my state of mind. I then proceeded to laugh at the person I was arguing with. I now blame Puddicombe for ruining my relationship.

Day 158 — Today’s meditation tip centered around ‘achieving’ and how that is what drives so many of us constantly. The tip was how during our meditation sessions that there is absolutely nothing to achieve. It’s not about achieving a certain state of mind or being able to visualize. In fact, this is our one time in the day when there are literally no expectations for anything! I found that thought… calming. Not that any of us need permission to do nothing, but chances are we are all overachievers and that bleeds into every part of our life. Here, at least, we have a few minutes of no expectations of ourselves, of the practice, of anything. Just chill and enjoy.

Day 198 — I’m 6 days into the Level 2 pack, where it’s a lot more silence than guidance. It’s quite liberating being able to meditate at my own pace! I’ve also been paying attention to the type of thoughts that are popping into my head during the sessions. Overwhelmingly, the thoughts are primarily about things I need to do. I have a huge mental list of things to do, but the problem is it’s stored in my head, which means pop up every so often randomly. Today’s distractions were different though. They dealt with past relationships and their issues. Puddicombe warned me that at some point during our practice, I may not like what I see within myself. In response, I told Puddicombe just like I told all my ex’s, “You don’t know me! Get out of my head!”

Day 207 — You can’t think yourself into a state of flow, it just happens. Same as meditation. It cannot be forced.

Day 258 — Every session begins with a moment to clearly state to myself what is my intention for today’s meditation. The guide always reminds me that the intention should include something about others, as to not always be selfish. Yet, the examples of intentions goes like, “my intention is to have a calmer mind, so that my interactions with people throughout the day are more mindful.” That sounds great buuuuuut it still sounds like it all about me. The honest truth is, I want become a better person firstly, and then you and others may benefit from my improved self. Like with with most Confucious and Yoda quotes, it’s a paradox.

Jason Scott Lee plays Bruce Lee in the movie Dragon

Day 267 — Today I passed 2000 minutes of meditation according to the Headspace app. With that milestone, the app awarded me with a new educational animation, this one focused on disturbing thoughts that may arise during practice. The guidance is that upon examination, these disturbing and ugly thoughts are simply constructs of our mind wandering about. It’s in the repetitive search for (i.e. thinking of) these negative thoughts that gives us power over them. Personally, I’ve yet to come across seriously disturbing thoughts during my practice. Maybe I’ve led too boring of a life to warrant psychotic or depressive thoughts. I’m waiting though. I actually want them. My wish is that mediation will unlock some deep demons within me and then like Bruce Lee, use kung fu to defeat my inner demons.

Day 270 — I think I’ve developed a second skin. Like going out in the cold weather, you’re supposed to have a thin base layer of clothing, and then build on top of that all the other layers of clothing to keep you warm. The base layer is always there though, to give you the first protection against the cold elements. I’m starting to believe all this meditation has given me a ‘base layer’ of compassion that filters my perception and reactions now. For example, somebody offend me today (someone said my hair was just ok) and instead of feeling the need to defend and retaliate, I found myself sitting with the emotion for awhile. I allowing it pass through me, and then was able to find a more productive way to let go of it (I did a hair flick and walked away).

Day 276 — I call it, Enhanced Compassion. I believe I’ve always been an empathic individual. Always in tune with the general emotion and mood around me. But I feel a change. Whether it’s because of the continuous mediation or my constant unsolicited preaching of it to others, (“Hey bro, you gotta try meditation dude! Talk about massive gains!”) I feel as if my compassion dial has been cranked up by NOS. I know this because my mind returns back to center faster after a stressor. In other words, shit happens and instead of however long it takes for me to recover, I bounce back quicker AND also think about what is the best way to respond positively. I feel like Vin Deisel in the Fast & Furious movies always ready with a smart response.

Day 295 — Today’s lesson was about truly understanding our intent for meditation. Yeah, we internally express it every time we sit down but over time that makes it easier to take for granted. For me, my intent has been about increasing my patience, empathy, and compassion, which should improve my interactions with others. Maybe I need to be more honest. What’s my real hope from meditation? Honestly, I’m hoping I discover something really wrong with myself. Because if I can find what’s wrong with me, then I can blame that for the failures in my life, namely all my failed relationships. I don’t mind having a problem if I know the cause, which means there’s something to work and focus on. That’s why when you’re me, and your 3-year relationship falls apart and she takes the dog with her, it really makes me wish I have a problem.

Day 304 — Starting a new series on Headspace, this time on Relationships (for obvious reasons). Having recently come out of my relationship, I find myself navigating the world of dating once again. That means I could’ve also chosen the meditation series focusing on Anxiety, Awkward Presence, or Date Fails. In any case, I chose Relationships, partly besides of a conversation I had on a first date just this past weekend. At some point I talked about my core values, which includes the concept of fairness. Not fairness in the sense that I’m keeping score. Rather, the type of fairness you can measure by licking your finger and putting it up to the air and detecting the wind direction. But that concept didn’t resonate with my date. It was as if she cocked her head and didn’t understand. She expressed how it has never been about fairness or being equal. She just dives into the relationship and loses herself in it. Then we had a good 5 minutes of awkward silence.

Day 309 — Day 6 of the Relationship theme pack and date 2 with the girl I mentioned above. I thought that date went great, feeling like I caught on fire (like in basketball), but then it ended with a bucket of cold water splashed on me. I went in for the first kiss and instead got air (like in basketball). Today’s mediation session was truly fantastic though, and just in time to quell my rising inner doubts. Today the instructions were to pick a person close to you that you are in good relations with. I chose my friend Dan, who has an amazing relationship with his wife, his son, his family, his friends, his barista, everybody. The instruction was to imagine Dan sitting somewhere (I chose a coffee shop) and then imagine a wave of happiness roll over Dan, until he couldn’t possibly get any happier. Visualize that and let it affect you. For me, it was truly amazing. His happiness became my happiness. I could tell I was smiling while mediating. I could feel the warmth radiating from him. I’ll file this as yet another tool to pull out whenever I’m feeling inner doubt.

Day 365 — I’ve lost whatever zen I’ve been accruing over this past year. For some reason over the last several days, my mind has been distracted as much as it was on Day 1. But that almost doesn’t matter because I know now this is part of the journey. I know the second skin I’ve developed this past year will help protect me with more compassion and empathy. At this point, I’ve decided to let my Headspace annual subscription run out, because I’m still Asian and cheap. Despite all the massive gains that Puddicombe has given me, I still want 40% off the annual price.

Thanks for reading about my journey! Please leave some comments or feel free to reach out to me if you have any thoughts you’d like to share.

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