By Dana Gornall
If you have followed any of my blogs or articles you will know that meditating regularly is a struggle for me.
It’s one of those habits like using a day planner every day, making my bed or getting up super early to go workout—I start off out of the gate in a sprint and fall flat on my face (sometimes pretty quickly). Anyone who has began a new habit knows it takes motivation to change, a little discipline and repetition. For me, the motivation is there.
I want to meditate, I really do! I know the benefits, and I know that they get more profound with regular practice. I have read many books on the subject—the how-to’s, the science behind it, the guided practices—and I get going, I start a practice and then somewhere at some point, I just stop.
Then one day I was scrolling through Facebook and saw an advertisement for a book called Habit Nest. I get a lot (and I mean a lot) of advertisements for day planner and productivity planners. Mark Zuckerberg’s posse must have my personality nailed: oh it’s one of those chicks that always tries to get organized…let us bombard her with ads for day planners to make her feel like one of these can change her life! <cue evil laugh>
Like the sucker I am, I clicked on the ad for Habit Nest and was quickly intrigued—not because it was a day planner/productivity journal that promised eternal happiness if you followed their program, but because they had one that focused on meditation.
Habit Nest has five different types of journals.
The first one is the Morning Sidekick journal. This one just focuses on getting up earlier. This seems like a trivial goal to focus on, but anyone who has done this for even a short period of time can attest to the fact that getting up earlier in the morning does change your day. Sure, those first few minutes of actually putting feet to the floor are hell. We come up with all sorts of excuses: I’ll do it tomorrow. I deserve a little more sleep. I have been working so hard lately. Sleep is good for me.
But one we are up, have had a warm cup of caffeine, we get more done, we feel more productive and it just puts a whole new spin on the day.
The other journals they produce are The Weight Lifting Gym Buddy Journal (comes with access to workout videos), The Badass Body Goals Journal (comes with exercise bands and access to workout videos), The Fat Loss & Nutrition Sidekick Journal and finally The Meditation Sidekick Journal.
I got on my laptop and quickly requested a copy of the meditation one. Maybe this would kick me into gear and I would finally have a daily practice?
As soon as I opened up the package, I was impressed. Let me say that I thought the price was a bit steep at $28.90 for one book (more for the fitness ones since they come with extras), but they did not skimp on quality. This book was beautiful with a hardcover, a ribbon bookmark to keep your place and an elastic band to keep the whole thing closed.
The cover was engraved with the title and the Habit Nest logo on the back, and the pages were top quality and thick, to avoid bleed-through of ink.
Let me just say here too that I immediately connected with the Habit Nest logo—a phoenix. If you are unfamiliar with the story of the phoenix, it is a mythological bird that dies by bursting into flames and then rises from the ashes and is reborn again over and over. I connect with this image and story so much I have one tattooed to my back, and the story is so fitting for someone trying to begin a new, life-changing habit.
The book starts out with a page that asks us why we want to form this habit. Why. This is a good question. Why do I want to sit here for ten minutes or more and focus on a breath or a mantra. I have so much to do like wash dishes and fold laundry and pay bills and look at my phone.
Getting out an ink pen and hesitating at first (because I didn’t want to “mess up” these beautiful white, clean pages) I answered each question. Looking through it I re-read each one and realized that I just wanted to be able to be a better person overall—a better mom, a better daughter, a better sister, a better co-worker, a better friend, a better girlfriend. I wanted to not react before I think and not think too much.
The journal then gives some basic information about meditation, and then goes into the process of beginning a new habit.
It breaks it down into four parts:
Days 1 to 7: Hell Week
Days 8-21: Staying Consistent
Days 22-66: Hardwiring-Retaining Interest in Your Personal Improvement
Days 66 and on: Habit Mastery
Each section is filled with tips, suggestions, access to guided meditations online, and each day comes with a journal page. The idea is to create a time when you will meditate, a goal for length of time and then a few prompts to think about how the process is going and what you are noticing. Each section (broken up into the days listed above) has different prompts and tips. They also scatter success stories throughout the book—little articles that highlight someone (read: celebrity) that has implemented a meditation practice and how it has helped.
Now the big question…did it work for me?
Yes…and no. When beginning the book you have an option to make a goal of meditating every day or five days a week. I chose the latter because it felt more realistic. My weekdays are pretty structured and adding meditation to that structure seemed reasonable, whereas my weekends vary quite a bit.
I began with gusto, filling out the pages, answering the questions. I decided to meditate in the evening before bed since that is when my house is somewhat quieter. And then Thanksgiving came. Suddenly my structured days were askew and with that came my practice also going askew. But I went back to it after about a week until Christmas, when the same thing happened. So there I fell off track, right at Day 39 in the middle of my Hardwiring stage.
The Cons of this system: the writing every day can get a bit tedious. The prompts in each section are the same and sometimes I didn’t want to fill out the same page every day so I would leave parts blank. Other days I felt more “chatty” and would write a lot. For example, one section in the hardwiring stage reads: One specific way that mindfulness improved my day. This seems like a simple thing to answer but there were days that I just couldn’t think of a response. The days that sucked, the days where I was tired, I felt like mindfulness didn’t really do anything for me and I didn’t even want to try to come up with an answer. It would have been nice to have a little more variety in the prompts.
The price is a little high. This might be a deterrent for some that just can’t afford it.
The Pros of this system: Because I was filling out these pages and listing a time I planned to meditate, I felt like I was being held accountable for what I was doing. This did help me stay on track. I liked the tidbits scattered throughout the book and it actually did delve a lot into the benefits and science of meditation. They did their homework.
There is a ton of information in this book! I didn’t expect it to cover as much as it did! Packed with a lot of resourceful information, it definitely holds up to (and surpasses) a lot of meditation guides that are out there.
Would I recommend Habit Nest journals? Yes. Despite my falling off the wagon during the holidays, I do think this is an investment worth your time and money. The book is well done and they put a lot of time and effort into its creation. I do recommend if you purchase it that you don’t aim to start before the holidays or a big event coming up.
Not only does this help create a habit but it encourages self exploration as to why you want this habit in the first place. It encourages you to understand why you want to change and guides you through that change one step at a time.
Overall, I think the idea is genius.
And the best part about this? Just like the phoenix bursts into flames and dies, it rises from the ashes once again anew…changed. You can always begin again. I think I will.
Day One, hell week.
Photo: Habit Nest
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