I Hate Meditation, But I Did It Every Day For Two Weeks

by Leigh Weingus

I absolutely, totally and completely loathe meditation.

But because nearly everything else about me points to a person who loves to meditate -- I exercise regularly, eat tons of kale, enjoy long hikes and am a certified yoga teacher -- I find myself in way too many situations where meditation comes up.

Whether it's in a yoga class, workshop or at the suggestion of a friend, I consistently panic when it's time to meditate.

"OK," I try to tell myself. "It's only a few minutes. I can do this."

I've always been an anxious person. When I was in high school I was so afraid of turning into a miserable failure I obsessively studied and memorized my way to a 4.0.

When I got to college, I would sit in my dorm room for hours coming up with plans and lists for everything in my life. From getting a boyfriend and doing well in school to getting an "ideal body" (trust me, I'm not proud of what 18-year-old me valued), my brain was always in overdrive, anxiously devising plans for how I could get exactly what I wanted.

To this day, sitting or standing still for a moment feels like a waste of time. And in case you're not familiar with it, that's exactly what meditation is.

For me, a typical five-minute meditation means a to-do list I can't do anything about flooding my  brain.

Here's my typical "I'm supposed to be meditating" inner monologue:

This is horrible. Why haven't I learned my lesson? I should just leave yoga early. I don't think the teacher would get that offended. I wonder if Tanya texted me back about our Saturday dinner plans yet. Ugh, I wish I could check my phone. I wonder if those succulents I Instagrammed got more likes during class. Do these pants look good on me? OK, so after this I'm going grocery shopping. I need kale, spinach, dark chocolate peanut butter cups -- oh man, could really go for one of those right now -- chicken, bread... When is this going to be over? I don't have time for this.

When I mentioned my hatred of meditation to a coworker, she suggested I try meditating every day for a couple weeks.

I was pretty resistant to the idea. She brought it up in October and I didn't get around to it until two weeks ago, and I consider myself a pretty efficient person.

Now that you have a thorough understanding of just how much I dislike meditation, I'm sure you're interested in how my little experiment unfolded.

First, let's start with the basics.

Here's How It Worked

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Because of my hatred and fear of meditation, I knew I had to start small. So I applied the same mantra I do to all difficult things that don't require very much time: "You can do anything for three minutes."

I say that to myself when I'm holding planks and sprinting, so I figured it would work for meditation as well.

Every night, once I had done absolutely everything I needed to do before going to sleep, I sat up on a pillow on my bed with my eyes closed and my palms up. I then turned down the volume on my phone and set a timer that would go off after three minutes.

I took three deep breaths, tapped "start" and started meditating.

Here's What Happened

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Meditating was not magically easy.

It came as no surprise to me those first few meditation sessions were extremely antsy ones. Why was I willingly subjecting myself to something I hated?

I would be lying if I said those first three days were anything but three minutes of obsessive thinking. But by day four, I noticed I was starting to get sick of myself and my useless thoughts. I estimated I was thoroughly clearing my mind for a good 90 seconds before the thinking began, which I considered impressive progress.

By week two, I remembered the "body scan" meditations I had attempted in the past. Whoever had been guiding those meditations had asked us to bring awareness to each body part individually. I figured that wouldn't be too hard to try on my own.

So starting from the tips of my toes and ending at the top of my head, that's what I did for all of week two -- and I was surprisingly successful.

I was even more shocked by the fact it wasn't making me unhappy. Actually, I was starting to look forward to the three minutes in my day when I didn't have to think about anything.

While I don't know if I felt calmer overall, I can tell you one thing for sure:

I slept so much better. 

In addition to being anxious for as long as I can remember, I've always been a troubled sleeper. Depending on what's going on in my life, I'll have weeks where I'm lucky if I get more than three hours of sleep.

I had exactly zero sleeping problems during my two meditation weeks. How cool is that? Instead of lying down and facing tons of anxious thoughts, I just put my head on my pillow, moved around until I got comfortable, closed my eyes and passed out.

It was awesome.

Will I continue meditating now that my required two weeks are over? I'm undecided. Last night I was reveling in having one less thing to do when I got home from work, but it's good to know meditation can have such a positive impact on my sleeping patterns.

If you hate meditation, take it from me: Three minutes is a very short amount of time, and it can make a big difference. Give it a whirl.