10 Minutes to Enlightenment

I eat kale. I believe in the power of positive energy and that wacky things happen when Mercury is in retrograde. So, it is no surprise that I believe in the power of mindfulness and meditation. 

I was first introduced to the practice while living in California in 2011-2012. In San Francisco, practicing daily meditation was as normal as taking a multivitamin. Offices even promoted guided meditation as a lunchtime perk.  Since moving to Chicago I am reminded how polarizing certain ideas are, even those that are as globally understood and accepted as plant-based diets, daily exercise and meditation.

There are many definitions of mindfulness - think of it as a present-state awareness that helps you to be non-reactive.
— Tim Ferriss

My first experience with meditation in Chicago was a memorable one. I signed up blindly through meetup.com and showed up at a church in Lincoln Park with 15-20 strangers. I, unknowingly, was about to embark on a TWO HOUR meditative journey - one that included ancient readings, chanting and walking in an "energy circle" (which means walking in a circle with your eyes closed, without touching anyone but using the "energy" from the person in front of you and behind you as your guide). It was way more than I thought I had signed up for. It was cool, but I realized I was willing to let go of the benefits of group meditation if it was going to cost me two hours of time each week and $12 in parking. 

I knew I needed to find some other solution. For me, the biggest challenge was trying to quiet my mind while falling asleep. No matter how tired I am during the day, as soon as I lay down at night, a light switch of activity flickers on and keeps me from drifting off to sleep. Instead, I discovered the app, Headspace. This brilliant app breaks up meditation sessions into 10 minute increments and can be done any where and at any time (as long as you have your phone on you). The guide's British accent is delightful and helps me feel less hokey about listening to a tape to fall asleep. 

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Starting with level one, I listened to a 10 minute session each night and, like clockwork, I would drift off usually by the time the 10 minutes was up. In the first few episodes, the guide is more present (meaning, talking more frequently) vs. the later episodes which allow for longer period of silence. I am a complete devotee and encourage everyone to check it out. Plus, meditation is in vogue - just ask , Jerry Seinfeld and Howard Stern

NEUROSCIENTISTS have also found that, after just 11 HOURS of meditation, practitioners had structural changes in the part of the brain involved in monitoring our FOCUS and SELF CONTROL.
— - Headspace