I regularly undergo 30-day challenges as I tinker with my own workflow and routines. In this post I share some insight from my recent experimentation with meditation.
Learning about meditation
I’m a regular listener of the Tim Ferriss podcast. In these episodes, he has discussions with world-class performers to figure out their tips and tactics for getting things done. Many of the lessons I learn from these episodes I’ve incorporated into my own routines…or will test in upcoming 30-day challenges. In many of these discussions, they indicate that they start their day with a meditative practice. Specifically, I recommend the episodes with Sam Harris, Rick Rubin, and most of all, Tara Brach.
While I started researching meditation, I came across the Headspace app and shared out a post on it in Issue #3 of the TL;DR Newsletter. I asked several colleagues and friends whether or not they engaged in meditation…and the Headspace app specifically.
I also spent some time researching meditative practices in an attempt to separate hype from placebo. In this research, I definitely recommend checking out this classification of meditative practices. I also was pushed in my thinking about meditation by the thoughts of Vinay Gupta. His interview as part of the Future Thinkers podcast and his “thoughtmenu on enlightenment” really pushed my thinking about the purpose of meditation.
Keep in mind that my understanding of meditation and mindfulness is still very limited. I’m also examining one form of guided meditative practice. I’m checking out other formats, but wanted to report back on what I’ve learned up to this point.
Testing my meditative practices
I ultimately decided to test out the Headspace app daily for 30 days. When you sign up for free, you are directed to download the app to your device (Android, iOS). The app is free for the first ten days. During this time period, you are presented with ten, ten-minute audio podcasts of guided mindfulness exercises. The app also mixes in a couple of animations to help explain some of the concepts included in the audio clips. You can review some of the rationale for this work from Andy Puddicombe from Headspace.
For my practice, I would wake early in the morning before the rest of the house wakes up. I sit by myself and use headphones with my mobile phone to listen to the audio. Yes, I’m sitting cross-legged with my eyes closed. After completing the first 10 episodes for free, you’re then asked to subscribe for what they call a gym membership for your mind.
After completing the ten-day workshop, I subscribed and moved into a series of 15-minute episodes that ran for 15 days. I’m currently near the end of a series of 20-minute episodes that runs for 20 days. Once I’m finished the 20-minute episodes, I’ll move into other areas in the same subscription and focus on other areas. At this point, I’m taking it one day at a time…now that I’m finished my 30-day challenge. 🙂
What I’ve learned
During the process, I have to say that meditation and the time focusing on being mindful worked for me. For me, the key is taking the time to quiet the mind, and understand yourself. Increasingly I felt myself growing anxious and not being able to focus and complete work up to my expectations. What I mean by this is that I am productive. I frequently have students, colleagues, family, friends ask if I ever sleep. The challenge is that I would still be productive, but it was never enough. I would start and end the day with goals, and then completing work every day, I was left feeling dissatisfied…almost despondent that I wasn’t getting anything done.
I’ve learned about my own thinking and the anxieties complexities that determine my thinking. I learned a lot about possibly making space for the distractions and turmoil that try to take up space in my thinking. Most of all, I’ve been learning how to focus on being mindful, and not getting trapped in FOMO (fear of missing out) and FOF (fear of failure). Click here to go to Tara Brach’s lecture on FOMO & FOF. Once again, I recommend listening to the lectures/posts I’ve shared by Tara Brach, her interview on the Tim Ferriss podcast, and any of her other work.
Keep in mind this meditative process is but one small part of my daily routine…I’ll blog about the other aspects later. Spending time meditating provides a block of time in my day to stop the thinking. In many ways, I’m rebooting my brain and giving me time for a “sacred pause.” In this pause, I’m taking the time to think about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it…and what do I actually WANT to complete. Instead of getting back into the grind…just to get into the grind…I’m trying to be more thoughtful about how & why I’m selecting my work and goals.
I think there are many possibilities for meditation, and finding time for focusing on mindfulness in your daily routines. For me…for now…it’s working to use Headspace to guide my investigation of these spaces. For others, there are other options that might work for you. I encourage you to test yourself with your own 30-day challenge around meditation. Please try it out and let me know what you find.
Cover photo by mindfulness http://flickr.com/photos/mindfulness/276102076 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license