About a year ago, I started meditation with the help of the Black Lotus app (see Meditation). Many people are praising meditation to the sky; still, I didn’t know what to expect. I needed to fix my sleep and increase my focus. Would it help me sleep better? What about my well-being? That is all that matter to me. Although it might be premature to draw any conclusion about meditation after such a short period, I wanted to share my experience so far. Here is my one-year follow-up feedback!
Before answering the question – is it working? – let me picture how desperate I was to find a solution to my poor health condition. To find the time to work on CogitActive, I had to push back the frontiers of sleeplessness. Not only was this a bad idea (in terms of increasing my productivity – it did not), but it also harmed my general well-being. All I managed was to get sick more often. The worst is that in addition to being not functional during my extended work hours, I could not fall asleep when I was going to bed, despite being exhausted. Worrying about sleeping, I would be tossing and turning all (my very short) night long, trying to convince myself that I should sleep – “you have only 3 hours to recharge, so you better sleep now!” – but not to avail. When I finally fell asleep, I was abruptly woken up by the alarm clock; time to go back to work. No wonder I was feeling tired all day long! Not to mention my poor concentration and focus, the obvious results of this chronic sleep deprivation. A vicious circle indeed…
As little as 10 minutes of meditation a day can help turn the tide, and these benefits can be observed from the moment a person begins their practice.Nicole Bayes-Fleming
In the Black Lotus app1, you can choose Instant Actions, which help you to do short meditations and breathing exercises throughout the day, as you need them. One of the categories you can choose from is sleep. There you have two options: Ambient and Yoga Nidra. During a welcome workshop/tour organized by the people behind the app, I heard them mentioning the latter: “Don’t forget to try Yoga Nidra.” Not knowing anything about this
state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, typically induced by a guided meditation, one night I decided to give it a try. I started this 30-minute guided session, but … I have no clue how it ends! No matter how insomniac I could have been – back then and many times after that – I never reach the end of the 30 minutes; I always fall asleep before.
Meditation, absolutely, without fail, is going to be your number one go to when you find yourself in bed and your body is tired but you feel restless, not quite ready to fall asleep yet.Sushree Diya Om
This anecdote is just to illustrate how the app helped me solve my tossing and turning issue. However, meditation2 goes beyond that. As alluded to in the previous post, one of the benefits of meditation is to improve your sleep. Sure enough, I haven’t used Yoga Nidra for months; I don’t need it anymore to fall asleep. I cannot say whether my sleep is better only3 thanks to meditation; yet, I can say that since I have started to meditate my sleep has improved dramatically.
There is a growing interest in the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation for sleep disturbed populations. Our study sought to evaluate the effect of mindfulness meditation interventions on sleep quality. […] The evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation can improve sleep quality in a variety of clinical populations with sleep disturbance.Rusch et al., 2019
Increased productivity at work
Since that fateful 2020 summer – and the resulting stress, both physically and mentally – I had a hard time staying concentrated on anything. Before that, I used to be able to stay focused and effective over several hours, so deeply absorbed in my work that I could indeed work for hours without noticing the time passing. However, before I start meditating, I was fulfilling most of the signs of trouble focusing indeed:
- Mental cloudiness or “brain fog”
- Difficulty remembering things that happened a short time ago
- Difficulty making decisions
- Lack of energy
- Making careless mistakes
Meditating to improve memory and focus isn’t just agreeable – science has shown that it works.Mindworks Team
With such claims in mind, I was eager to see what Build Focus – one of the Goal packs in the app – could do for me4. And it was not long before I could see results indeed. It started with my memory of little things coming back. Then, my attention span grows progressively to what I consider non-pathological. Of course, my improved sleep (see above) might have contributed to these transformations; still,
meditating for a few minutes a day has been proven to reduce distractions and increase focus. I have not regained my full focus capacity yet, but I can assert that it works.
Fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on productivity
In the first instance, it might seem counterintuitive to lose 15 minutes of my precious time – more like 30 min in reality – when I need time so desperately. Nevertheless, like the above quote, these minutes are well invested! The outcome is an increase in productivity indeed. Well beyond the 30-min investment!
Every morning I start the day with a 15-minute meditation
to get in the right mindset. During the day, at regular intervals, the app suggests me some extra 1- or 2-min mindful activities such as a breathing exercise or a little stretching. These are welcome breaks in between some of my intense timeboxes (see Time management concl’d). There are more recommended activities (e.g., Do a Kind Act, Express Gratitude, etc.), and if I would feel the need – or more specifically, find the time – I could choose among the many guided activities (from meditation to breath work) available in the aforementioned Instant Actions. Depending on my time and condition, I finish the day with a relaxing breathing practice before reading some inspirational content related to the current goal pack and doing a self-evaluation of my day.
The uniqueness of Black Lotus is that it is not just a meditation app but offers a holistic offering to make self-transformation possible. A key finding of Om Swami is that one needs to be kind in order to progress internally. The app gives you the opportunity to perform simple kindness acts in daily life, called Raks (Random Acts of Kindness).Black Lotus
“Imagine you are on a beach… walking toward the ocean…”
People who manage to visualize easily get exactly what they asked for. During their visualizations, they can see an image. Me, no matter how simple, or complex, is the visualization, I simply cannot see anything. I have followed advice such as
Look at an object or a picture intensively. Close your eyes and try to see the same object or picture in your mind. As soon as I close my eyes, I just see black.
Do you have a problem visualizing an image in your mind? You may have something called “aphantasia” and it affects about 2% of the population. It breaks down pretty easily in Greek — “a” means “without”, and “phantasia” means “fantasy” or “imagination.”Brad
Do I have aphantasia, the inability to visualize? I don’t think so, I had vivid imagery before… Before what? Before I cried! Could I have acquired it after this emotional trauma? Or is this simply due to stress,
a very simple factor that prevents you from visualizing images in your mind?
So, does meditation work? It surely benefits my overall health, starting with my sleep. It sharpens my concentration and attention. In fact,
all the recent science-backed evidence shows that meditation really does work – if you’re consistent with your practice.
Meditation is not a panacea, but there’s certainly a lot of evidence that it may do some good for those who practice it regularly.Alice G. Walton
1 This post is not a review of the Black Lotus app. ^
2 I am no expert on that matter, but according to Judi Bar – a yoga therapist and yoga program manager –
Yoga nidra is like meditation, but yet it’s not. ^
3 There are other factors that I should mention here. For the past 10 years, I was sleeping on the floor. Yes, you read that correctly, I had no bed! Not to mention what I used for a pillow. Fortunately, I have now replaced the latter with a good pillow. It was about the same time I started to meditate. However, I was still struggling to fall asleep; hence, Yoga Nidra. I have also recently bought a mattress – even a bed for that matter – but the quality of my sleep had improved before that. To sum up, even though these two items might have contributed, they are not the reason why the quality of my sleep has improved. ^
Unleash the power of concentrative meditation to be more focused in all aspects of your life. This is the tagline of this goal! ^