Last night my streak of mindfulness practice using Calm reached 200 consecutive days of practice. Since February 1st of this year, I have meditated at least once a day, every day. Knocking down that first month felt great as an individual achievement, but it was too early to pause and reflect. Two hundred consecutive days feels as good a time as any.
Doing something with every-day consistency becomes easy. Doing something with periodic consistency remains hard. It certainly was not easy at the beginning. Those first days and weeks were hard. I set reminders and alarms to not miss a day. But now having completed this practice every day for over half a year, it's become a natural part of my routine.
My practice is currently in the evening just before I go to bed. I hope to one day have a morning practice but right now I can't do that every day so I'm not going to try. Today my mindfulness practice is just as much a part of my evening routine as brushing my teeth.
The vast majority of my practice has been with the Calm app, listening to the Daily Calm. Each Daily Calm is about ten minutes, with the narrator beginning by describing the general breathing and thinking to do. The last two minutes of the practice are more relaxed while the narrator discusses a certain theme, and often the relationship that mindfulness has with that theme. Themes stretch from gratitude to anxiety, to stress and much more.
Reflecting on the past 200 days, I think of the tangible benefits I've noticed which I believe I can directly attribute to the practice. The first thing that comes to mind is that I often notice my reaction to things being different than what I'm used to. Where in the past I may react quickly or abrasively to some things, today I am often able to wait for a beat and process the information before reacting with more intention and less instinct.
I've also been growing more aware of my relationship with attachment and beginning to find comfort and a sense of reward with letting go of things. I've found this has helped both personally and professionally.
For example, a proud professional moment of mine was "finishing" a web application side-project a few years ago and finding paying customers for it. Having built something completely myself and successfully charging money for it gave me the confidence to call myself an entrepreneur. It didn't take me long to stop focusing on this project and move my attention elsewhere. The project never reached profitability and I found myself spending in the low double figures each month to keep it running. I kept telling myself I'd find the time to improve the product and find more customers.
Recently I came to terms with the fact that I don't want to find the time to improve the product or find more customers. I want to invest my time elsewhere. And this is okay. The app was in the product space of phone numbers. I reached out to all my customers and helped them transfer their phone numbers to their own personal Twilio account.
I then updated the marketing page to read "Here once lived..." and turned off the API application server and database. Once the phone numbers had been transferred the entire process took about 30 minutes. There was a sense of relief when I had wrapped things up.
I continue to examine other things in my life and inspect whether they are needs and wants. It turns out many of the things I thought were needs are very clearly wants. And more, I am finding many of the wants, after digging into why that want exists, aren't even wants at all.
Beyond reactive patterns and my relationship with attachment, further benefits include much-improved sleep and how I think about gratitude, suffering, joy, and living well.
And while I've found the daily practice of meditation to have many benefits, I've also found there to be a benefit from the act of consistently doing something good, every day. I've learned that if I want to add more things to my list of "things I do every day" I can. I known this bucket can't hold much, and that there are constraints regarding how each item fits. But I know it can happen.