I stopped meditating after 3 years, and I feel like I’ve lost a part of who I am


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Photo: Stocksy/Sally Anscombe ; Graphics: Well+Good Creative

The first time I ever sat down to meditate, I left the cushion with a strange, intangible feeling that my life had just shifted in some way. I can only compare it to the second (not first) time I read The Great Gatsby, and knew I wanted to be a writer. Or the first time I ran an entire mile without stopping, and could tell there would be so many more to follow. Simply stated, I felt like I’d stumbled over some truth about myself that I hoped I would never unlearn. But a few years later, I did.

Now that I’ve started working my first full-time job and earning my graduate degree in the evenings, I’ve paused my meditation practice for a TBD length of time. Let’s be clear: When people say they “don’t have time” to do things, it really irks me (yet another reason I need meditation!). Because, IMO, it really means that they don’t make time to [enter non-priority item here]. So, for the record, I’m taking ownership of the fact that I no longer spend a third of an hour daily trying to become more intimate with the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire third-task maze that is my inner world.

I found silence comforting rather than suffocating; I listened with less judgment; I could focus on quiet, singular tasks for hours without growing bored. In the glowing light of retrospect, there are so many things I love about this meditating Kells.

Before I tell you what I lost by quitting meditation, though, I have to talk about all the things I learned because of it. I discovered that I could meet my impatience with presence. (So cringe-y! But so true!) I discovered that the ugly thoughts about myself and others that parade through my head on a daily basis do not belong to me (a steadfast belief in the meditation community). There were smaller lessons, too. I found silence comforting rather than suffocating; I listened with less judgment; I could focus on quiet, singular tasks for hours without growing bored. In the glowing light of retrospect, there are so many things I love about this meditating Kells.

Now my life looks different: My stress and anxiety levels are higher, all it takes is a Trader Joe’s checkout line to send my blood pressure skyrocketing, and aspects of the hot-headed high schooler I once was have returned for a surprise sequel. Sure, you can chock some of it up to lack of sleep, an increased workload, and the societal pressure (Must. Climb. Corporate. Ladder.) that comes with joining the workforce. A lot of it, though, I do attribute to the fact that I no longer check in on myself once a day.

Susan Piver, an often quoted author in the meditation space, once said that, “Mediation gives you the courage to be who you are.” And yeah, I agree. Even though so many parts of my identity have come to the surface in a big way this year (I write, like, for my job), I feel like some of the more basic parts of who I am have slipped away. Parts that I used to be best friends with for the 20 minutes I would spend following my breath each day. Parts that I’m estranged from now. So…

Dear 2019, Kells—what are we going to do about that?

This meditation headband will kickstart your at-home practice. But if you find yourself continually nodding off, here’s why.

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