Although it was once considered a bit kooky and out there, meditation has now reached kale-like levels of acceptance and ubiquity. Everyone from top executives like Arianna Huffington to bloggers like Leandra Medine have been singing its praises for a while now, and—given their personal success—it’s hard not to grow curious about the practice. It will make you happier, claims say, and increase your focus at work. Stress won’t disappear, they add, but it will diminish, and when it does arise? You’ll handle it with a lot more aplomb.
Though I often rolled my eyes at the prospect of trying meditation—I mean, could sitting in silence for a few minutes really be the cure-all everyone claimed it was?—the unexpected death of my father earlier this year forced me to reconsider. In shock and confusion with what had happened, and searching for that always-elusive why, I felt completely unmoored. But, busy with a new job, I had little time to process what had happened, leaving it to fester unresolved.
Noticing my heightened stress levels, a family friend recommended that I try out Headspace, a meditation app for beginners that would walk me through the process in a straightforward way (i.e., no aggressively spiritual chatter). As more of a realist than a dreamer, I was intrigued.
So, after a few false starts, I began to meditate for 10 minutes every morning. It was uncomfortable at first, and I often dreaded the prospect, but without fail, I always felt better when it was done. Not 100%, but better—and that was something.
I soon began to notice that my morning rush to the office had been transformed from total chaos (think: bowl of cereal in one hand, mascara in the other, and my entire closet thrown on the floor) to calm coordination. A visiting friend, having known me for years, even pointed out how surprised she was by the change. “You no longer try on your whole closet before walking out the door,” she laughed, highlighting a reality that I hadn’t even noticed.
And she was right! I had gone from anxiously trying to piece together my outfit every morning, and often heading out in something that I hated by the time I got to the subway, to swiftly picking a look out and sticking with it. And the rare moments that did leave me feeling underwhelmed no longer led me down the usual road: existential crisis by way of an outfit.
Somehow, without seeking it out, tuning out for those 10 minutes every day had secured my sartorial footing, leaving me more confident (and less crazed) in my choices. Buoyed by this realization, I decided to give my regular closet clean-outs another go-around, hoping this newfound attitude would lend itself to a more rigorous purge. Happily, it did—I found myself getting rid of things that I had justified keeping for years, holding on to them like a crutch I thought I needed. Now? I could see that I didn’t actually need them, and that they were just contributing to my life’s stress more than anything else. As I worked on clearing out my head, I grew determined to clear out my environment, too.
Rid of the items that didn’t truly speak to me or my aesthetic, and were instead based in someone else’s idea of what I should be/wear, my style became something I could actually define. No longer a bloated, sprawling attempt at many different things (bohemian? me? really, Jessica?) it was now tighter and more curated (very minimal, with a few trendier pieces and, well, a decided lack of color). I could finally mix and match the pieces in my wardrobe without worrying that the selection would confuse me by the time I got to work. Instead, the choices seemed a lot more sensible, born less out of stress and more out of self-awareness.
Meditating may not have answered life's big questions for me, or made losing my dad any easier to swallow, but it took away one major burden. Having to sacrifice 10 minutes each morning for an overhaul I’d been attempting for years? Trust me—it was worth it.
Have you ever tried meditation? Let us know in the comments, and shop some of this editor's favorite fashion items, post-meditation, below!
Kenneth Cole New York Kam Leather Sneakers ($120)
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