May 1st, 2014/Challenges/By /

Challenges: 30 Day Challenge #1: Meditation

meditation

Every year we declare that we’re going to become better versions of ourselves.

This year’s different! I’m going to read more, exercise more, and start eating healthier! But strong intentions are not enough and most of us are back to where we started.

I’m here to help you close the gap between what you want to do, and what you actually end up doing.

Today we’re starting a new series called 30 day challenges. Each month i will issue a challenge that I’ve personally have experience in. I’m going to help you by breaking it down and showing you how to achieve the habit.

I’ve chosen meditation because it has had a tremendous effect on me, and I keep getting asked about how to start it.

Even though I’ve been meditating for a while, I’ll be right along with you guys doing the challenges as well.

Why Should I Meditate?

If you’re going to meditate and stay motivated, it’s important that you know what the benefits are.

Some meditation practitioners can be a little out there with the religious and spiritual stuff. I’m a science guy and the reason why I meditate is because the benefits are well documented.

Meditation increases gray matter

I started getting into meditation around 2 years ago when I living in Ho Chi Minh City. I noticed that I was constantly getting distracted, and I also noticed that many people I admired were daily meditators.

Here is what 2 years of meditate has done for me.

  • I can concentrate more. We’re in the A.D.D. generation because technology and social media are designed to get you addicted. Most of us can’t sit through a simple meal without checking our phones. Meditation is my sword and shield to keep my mind shap.
  • My emotions are calm. I don’t really get angry at little annoyances in life anymore. If a situation annoys me, I have the ability to just let the feeling go and carry on.
  • Sometimes I’ll have an unproductive day. I can’t be on 7 days a week. What helps me out is at 2pm I’ll go for a walk and then do a 10 minute meditation afterwards. This clears my thoughts. I reset my mind.
  • I’m less stressed in general

Think of meditation as a competitive advantage.

I’m interested so how do I meditate?

Tools:

Insight Timer for (iOS / Android) is what I personally use. It’s simple and it keeps the stats of all the meditation sessions I’ve ever had.

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For the sitting position I prefer sitting on the edge of a chair, instead of the traditional cross legged pose. Make sure you’re sitting upright with the spine erect.

  • Turn on the timer and close your eyes.
  • Take slow, deep breaths. You want to breathe from the belly.
  • Focus on your breath. “Breathing in I know I’m breathing in, breathing out I know I’m breathing out.”
  • Your mind will wander. That’s fine and is a natural part of the process. Just “release” the thought and go back to focusing on breathing.
  • Try to feel the various sensations in your body. Feel your toes.

Developing the Habit

You need a trigger; an external event that reminds you to start meditating. The easiest way to do this is to set a time that you do it each day. I suggest started it at the end of your morning routing, say around 8:30am. You can also set a reminder at 8:25am to prepare to meditate.

Here’s how I would approach developing the habit.

Day 1 – 7: 2 minutes
Day 8 – 14: 5 minutes (set an interval bell at 3 minutes)
Day 15 – 21: 7 minutes (set an interview bell at 4 minutes)
Day 21- 30: 10 minutes (set an interval bell at 5 minutes)

Notice how I’m slowly easing you into this. You have to train your mind as if it’s a muscle.

Achieving small wins builds momentum. Starting you off at 2 minutes a day for a week will ease your way into things. After a month, meditating for 10 minutes a day is solid.

How I Meditate:

One 10 minute session in the morning
One 5 minute session at 2pm
One 10 minute session at 7pm (after I’m done with the gym)

Conclusion

Remember that you’re not alone. Other people reading this blog will be doing the challenge with you. I’m gonna join along as well!

If you miss a day or two, it’s okay. I’m not judging you. Just be honest with yourself and try to understand what happened and how you can improve.

When you feel like skipping a day, just think about all the rewards that comes with meditation. Less stress, increased focused, and just being able to be stronger than your mind.

It’s a powerful feeling. Sometimes I’ll get the itch to check Facebook or the itch to procrastinate. Meditation lets me observe the feelings, and carry on.

Please feel free to comment in this blog on your updates.