Two years ago, it’s safe to say my knowledge of meditation was “limited”.  Remember that scene in the Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It?  The scene when Angela Bassett practices that Buddhist chant.  “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.”

That’s what meditation was to me, and there was no way I was incorporating that into my everyday life.

But then I found myself at a professional crossroads in which I needed some serious guidance.  After working in big box retail management for 11 years (don’t ask), I found myself unemployed and unwilling to go back.  

I started toying with the idea of writing full-time though my mind wasn’t clear enough to make an informed decision. I was focused on my dwindling bank account balance and a sense of underachievement.  

I read a Fast Company blurb about an app called Headspace and figured it would be a cool, modern way to start meditating.  Andy Puddicombe and his soothing British voice helped me learn the basics of meditation in just 10 minutes a day.

In the beginning, it was hard to discern the benefits of the practice.  I found my mind wandering to my to-do list when I should have been clearing my thoughts completely.

I soon learned that it was natural for those thoughts to keep flowing and that meditation wasn’t about shutting the mind off.  It was about letting thoughts pass without getting trapped in them.

After the first full week of using Headspace, I felt more focused.  I noticed my mood was more positive, and I could home in on some important decisions.

It’s no coincidence that I started booking my first clients shortly after beginning a consistent meditation schedule.  Now, every morning at 6:30 before my husband wakes up, I carve out 10 minutes to focus on my breathing and clear my mind before I read my first email or social media notification.

To some, maybe meditation seems like a placebo.  And perhaps Headspace seems like another way to waste your money.  But I can attest that it’s necessary.

There were a few months last year when I felt I didn’t need it anymore.  I canceled my Headspace membership, and I confidently woke up each morning ready to work.  Initially, I felt I could handle whatever the day threw my way.

After a month without meditation, my mind was like one of those optical illusions—except I was never able to focus on the image.

I stay committed to meditation because I’m committed to my mental health.  As a writer whose livelihood depends on my creative output, I need to keep my mind clear.

I need to feel balanced, focused and aligned with myself before I deal with others.  Meditation offers me guaranteed time for my personal development.  Those 10 minutes are all about me.  The only way to ensure I can be a productive writer, an organized entrepreneur, and a supportive husband is by taking care of me.

I might not chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo every morning.  But I feel balanced, and my understanding of meditation is more than limited.  I’d say that’s a pretty solid improvement.