I wanted to update you on my meditation journey and also provide you with more tools for your practice.
Insight Timer's 365 Challenge is going great! In an audio recording that Insight's leader posted to the app on Friday, he said that the app was about to hit 1.5 meditators and gave these numbers abut the collective experience:
3 million minutes of meditation in 24 hours, which is
just under 50,00 hours of meditation, which is the equivalent to
5 1/2-6 years of meditation.
Collectively. In one day. Those are great numbers to take to potential Insight Timer app investors. I can envision them in a spreadsheet on a PowerPoint or Prezzi presentation.
My meditation practice
I meditate at least once a day, often twice. It's the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do before I sleep. At the start of the month I downloaded a habit tracker called Fabulous and this one has actually stuck. Now, my mornings look like this:
Open my eyes
Say a couple of short Hebrew prayers if I remember to (yes, this bacon-eating Jew has restarted this practice – I like the ritual)
Go to the living room and lie or sit down on the couch and meditate for 10-20 minutes.
Drink a glass of water
Walk the dog
Do 20-40 minutes of yoga
Make a cup tea, take my supplements.
Make and eat some breakfast.
I've meditated for 37 consecutive days since December 19.
About my practice & inspiration for yours
-My current favourite guided meditation is called A Kabbalistic “Good Morning Soul” Meditation, lead by Alison Serour, a teacher at the Kabbalah Centre in LA. I'd never done a kabbalistic meditation before, but had participated in some kabbalistic prayers during synagogue-ish services. I wasn't/am not particularly connected to Kabbalah (do you – personally – pronounce it so that the “a”s sound like “up” or like “ka-bawl-uh”? I use the former.).
Insight Timer has two versions of Good Morning Soul: The short one that's nearly 8 minutes, and the long one that's 21 minutes. I like them both. They speak to me. They feel good. Sometimes they inspire me. They make me ask questions of myself and so facilitate some self-learning and personal growth. The longer one includes a prayer in Hebrew, which might or might not work for you. That said, there are meditations for everyone. If you are 100% atheist and don't believe in anything you can't see and anything that science hasn't proven, do breathing meditations. Science has proven those work. Do what works for you. Forge your own path. (That's this website's tagline.)
-With the 365 challenge, new meditations are being added daily to a specified playlist that participants can use if they choose. I didn't do the first set of guided meditations because it was a series that started at 1 minute and built to 20. Great for some people, but not I. This week I've been following along more, but also doing some other ones too. It really depends on what I need. The mediation added to the playlist today was Alison's “A Kabbalistic Awaken Heart Opening Meditation”, created based on a Hebrew prayer called “Patach Eliyahu“, Prophet Elijah's prayer-meditation from the Zohar. It was nice. A large section of it resonated with me and made me feel empowered. It reminded me of the saying that things happen for you, not to you.
If you want to join the 365 Day Meditation Challenge, download the Insight Timer app from your device's app store and do it.
Meditation for beginners
In another post I'll discuss styles of meditation because there are so many. Some focus on the breath. Others take you on journeys through your imagination. Some have you craft your ideal day or life. Others take you to past lives. Some use mantras. Even if you don't believe in some of those things (past lives, for example), I think they're worth experiencing. There is so much that we as humans don't know and understand and we tend to disbelieve what seems impossible.
No time? No problem
Don't have the patience to meditate? No problem. Meditation increases your ability to keep focused in spite of distractions but you only need to start for a few seconds at a time. You can start with 5 minutes a day. If you add just 1 minute per week, you'll be up to an hour in a year (if you want to be). Just sit down and start. Don't overthink it. Read the following, and follow the instructions:
Stop reading right now. Close your eyes. Breath in for 4 counts, out for 8. Open your eyes.
There, you've meditated.
Tips for beginners
Some people find it challenging to build a daily habit. Maybe it's lack of time, discipline, motivation, etc. Here are some tips to create a strong meditation practice:
Start small. It's better to start really small, so there is absolutely no excuse for you to skip your practice. Again, starting with just 5 minutes a day can hep.
Recommit. At the end of every session, commit to show up for your practice the following day.
Never zero. This means that every day you will practice, even if only 5 minutes. Make it a non-negotiable part of your life. This is how I treat my yoga practice and why I've been able to practice daily.
No expectations. Nothing kills motivation quicker than unmet expectations. Most of the benefits from meditation come only after months or years of daily practice. So letting go of expectations sounds like a smart strategy to me. Go easy on yourself! There's no “failing” in meditation. It's not a test or a competition. “No expectations” also means that you don't need to meditate on a cushion on the floor. In my recent post that announced the 365 Day Challenge I gave the Dr. Seuss version of examples of where you can meditate.
Be prepared. Sometimes you will feel tired, busy, or “not in the mood”. Be mentally prepared to meet those challenges with the “never zero” idea, and do the practice no matter what.
Joyful attitude. Meditation is not a task, but a precious moment to go deep inside yourself. Enjoy the practice, and it will be easy to keep it up.
If you're a beginner, I recommend a meditation course called Master Your Mind. It's a 5 week program with lessons and guided meditations that helps build the habit. You're provided with 35 short daily lessons, organized by week – each with its own unique themes, goals and insights. The program is self-paced, and the techniques are presented in a way that both secular and spiritually minded people can connect to. No particular belief or worldview is required for following the lessons.
Full disclosure: I signed up as an affiliate, after I'd read the associated website, Live and Dare and tried some of the lessons. This is NOT why I chose to post today, it simply integrates well.
Develop the habit of meditating daily. You will start with sessions as short as 2 minutes, and increase gradually, up to 15-20 minutes. It's built in a way you cannot fail.
Find the ideal technique for you. Each week you'll be introduced to a new practice, such as mantra meditation, breathing awareness, chakra meditation, etc. By the end of the course you will be well equipped to choose the technique that best suits your needs.
Have an optimal attitude towards meditation, so that you can enjoy the process as well as the result, and keep meditation as a lifetime habit.
Deepen your meditation and enhance your mind.
Integrate mindfulness into your daily life, through reminders, exercises, and daily challenges.
Here's how the course goes:
When you sign up you get lifetime access with 5 weeks of daily lessons (audio and PDF), mediation cheat cheat, private forum, 60 days of email support, and free updates for life. There's a one time fee. It's not a membership site.
“The course was easy to follow, and every day I had a small taste of success, step after step. The entire approach matched my understanding of best practices for establishing a habit.”
“…it helped me learn to forgive myself and accept my limitations. I also learned to have some compassion for myself and others.”
“…gave me skills to deal with negative emotions.”
“I found a calmness within me that I didn’t know existed. There is a sense of peace seems to follow me through the day. My anxiety also calmed down. Now I can’t imagine not doing it every morning.”
“With your course I could successfully build the habit, one small step at a time. You were asking “less” from me which made it non-negotiable and doable, while others always asked “more” from me which left me feeling inadequate in my practices.”
In 17 days I've missed just one day of yoga. Sometimes I run out of time but before bed I take 10 minutes to do some stretching and breathing. It counts. It's the “never zero” rule above. I also created a video today to append to last week's post about yoga so watch for that. I didn't end it with “namaste” because I thought that was too cliche, but sometimes I end my own yoga or meditation practices with a silent, “Namaste, motherf****r!”, 'cause I'm quirky like that and sometimes I'm moved to.
Be well and feel free to comment if you've got something to share.