DAY 1: WHAT “COUNTS” AS MEDITATION?
A lot of people are hesitant to try meditation because they aren’t sure what it IS. Or they do try, but get preoccupied with whether they’re doing it right, and give up quickly because of their uncertainty.
There are lots of different forms of meditation, some of which we’ll learn about in more detail during this challenge. As a way to begin, it’s helpful to think about meditation as an opportunity to either a) practice returning your focus over and over again to your breath, a calming mantra, or a narration of some sort, or b) observe what’s running through your head and allow the thoughts to pass like clouds.
You can’t really do meditation wrong, exactly. I mean if you just sit down and spend 10 minutes planning your day or trying to solve a problem, you’re not meditating. But if you sit down with the intention to meditate and notice partway through that your brain has shifted into problem-solving mode or worry mode, and you observe yourself doing that and decide to let the thoughts go (or return your focus to whatever it is you started the session focusing on)…it counts!
It’s hard to describe meditation, which is part of why some people are reluctant to try it. The absolute best way to understand what it is I’m talking about is to sit for short periods of time, over and over, until something starts to click. Be willing to experiment with different approaches (again, I will introduce you to several over the course of the next month). You have to experience meditation to understand it.
You’ll find that the more you sit — no matter what approach you like best — the more you’ll see yourself as separate from your thoughts. As humans, we possess a unique and amazing ability to observe ourselves thinking. And the more we can remain aware of this capacity for observation, the less attached we get to individual thoughts, which gives us freedom from scripts and beliefs that do not serve us.
Sit for 2 or 3 minutes today. That’s it!
>> If you are brand new to meditating, you may find that it’s easiest to start out with a brief, guided recording. You can find tons of stuff on YouTube — many therapists and meditation teachers have narrations you can listen to online. You can also download at app like Headspace or Stop, Breathe & Think, and listen to one of their guided meditations for just 2-3 minutes at a time. Both apps have some limited content available for free. There are lots of other apps out there too — don’t get too caught up in finding the perfect app, just pick something and get started. You’ve got plenty of time to experiment!
>> If you are recommitting to a meditation practice after an absence, do what feels right for you. Listen to a guided meditation or sit in silence — but don’t try to put too many conditions or “shoulds” on it. Do whatever you need to do to get back in the habit, even if it feels like a step backward from wherever you were before. Start small.