13 Nov I experienced happiness - Katarzyna Sielicka

“There were a few moments, after the Gratitude single [by Jyothi Shyamsunder in Aware] when I experienced a totally new feeling and I think it was happiness”, says Katarzyna Sielicka from Warsaw, Poland, our Mindfulness Hero of the month. She has been meditating regularly and we got in touch with her to know more about her journey, what she achieved from meditating regularly and how she has been able to make it a part of her daily routine.

1. Why did you start meditating?
Katarzyna: I first learned about meditation and mindfulness from a Coursera course on Happiness by Dr. Rajagopal Raghunathan. The course mentioned a huge list of beneficial effects of mindfulness. Then I read a few books on the topic, all really enthusiastic. And then I decided to give it a try.

2. How has meditation helped you in becoming a better person?
Katarzyna: Initially - it didn’t! I did mindfulness for half a year, every day, with Headspace - 20 mins a day. I failed to see any of the good results promised! I felt cheated and robbed of my 20 mins, and I gave up. I came back after a year or two, having stumbled upon the book ‘10% Happier’, which again was ecstatic about the practice. And then I came across Aware, and gave mindfulness another try. 

I was really shocked to realise that - after just a few days with the Foundation course - I am a bit calmer, more relaxed and less anxious. I am able to actually enjoy the company of my children (I never did before!) and there were a few moments - after the Gratitude single - when I experienced a totally new feeling, and I think it was happiness! I did not expect any of that to happen 🙂 

The Sleeping single helped a few times with my sleeping problems - but then a few times it didn’t - so I’m not sure if it counts 🙂

3. What made you stick to Aware?
Katarzyna: a. I love the structure of the app: a sequence of longer sessions, accompanied by shorter energisers that I can take throughout the day. 

b. I also love the division into Courses and Singles - this way, if I need a quick fix, I can do a Single. And if I want to focus on a problem for longer, I can do a full course on that.

4. What has been your life-hack to make meditation a habit? Share some tips for beginners.
Katarzyna: I have three actually!
a. Traffic metaphor - I got this from Headspace’s Andy Puddicombe. This is about observing the thoughts in your head - it should be like sitting at the side of the road, and simply observing the cars, not trying to stop them. This helped a lot in grasping what mindfulness really is about!
b. ‘Let go’ - this is a frequently used phrase in the context of thoughts and distractions - and I never understood it. The revelation came in ‘10% Happier’ by Dan Harris, where he mentions his own confusion with the term, and explains that ‘let go’ actually means ‘let be’. This made it so much clearer!
c. The time for daily meditation - Most people advise doing it first thing in the morning. However, I found the idea of waking up 20 minutes earlier so abhorrent, that I hated the practice when I did it first thing in the morning. Also, I was really sleepy then! In the past, I have found evening sessions to work well for me. Now, I try to find some time around 10 am - with the kids at school, the chores taken care of, and a little work done, it is much easier to meditate then. I work at home, so this helps a lot.


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