Over the course of this 7-day kickstart it's important to know what meditation is and isn't. Therefore, we're going to start by reducing the practice down to its essence so we can lessen any potential confusion.
The first misconception we are going to bust is the notion that all meditation is the same. If you crossed paths with three people who each said that they meditated yesterday, they could be referring to three completely different approaches.
One could've been referring to a walking meditation that she did outside in the afternoon, while another could've meditated while lying in her bed using a visualization technique, while the third person could've meditated while on his commute to work using a meditation app.
If you ask each person how you should approach meditation, they'll likely tell you something related to their specific approach: "Just walk mindfully," one says. "Just lie down and visualize a white light enveloping your body," the other recommends. "Download an app and meditate while sitting with your back straight," the last one advises.
And the reality is, they are all correct! But this is also why it can feel super confusing to start meditating. There are so many approaches, which can lead to paralysis of analysis, especially if we don't feel very meditative as we explore the different techniques.
Then there are the lifestyle challenges that can be viewed by some as barriers to meditation, such as:
- Having a busy mind
- Experiencing ADHD
- Not having enough free-time or resources
- Eating meat
- Smoking cigarettes
- Drinking alcohol
But none of these things are real barriers to being a successful meditator, if we properly understand what it means to meditate.
Let's Define Meditation
Since meditation is such a generic term, loaded with expectations and confusion, let's agree on a definition for it and build an easy-to-do practice around that.
Meditation - (noun) a comfortable, seated, and consistent eyes-closed practice of experiencing present moment awareness and, when possible, quieting the mind.
If you're good with that definition, we'll spend these 7 days exploring each part of that definition so you begin to understand meditation inside and out, and hopefully improve upon your confidence in and ability to meditate.
Identify a comfortable seat
When people normally think about meditation, they see it as a practice of being physically uncomfortable in order to keep their chakras aligned or open the energy channels in the spine, and so on. And they assume that if they don't have an erect spine or legs crossed, or the right cushion for meditation, they're somehow doing it wrong.
It's a myth that you need to sit like a frozen sculpture in order for your meditation to be effective. In fact, the research says the opposite—sitting in a relaxed position is just as effective as sitting straight, and it feels much easier to boot. So today, you have permission to sit with comfortable back support.
In order to see the differences for yourself, I'd like for you to split test the two approaches. Meditate with the classic straight-back, crossed-legs position for only 5 minutes. Then, sit comfortably on a couch or a chair with legs relaxed and meditate for 10 minutes, and see which one you prefer.
- Time each meditation by setting a soft alarm
- Close your eyes
- Rest your awareness on your breathing
- When the alarm goes off, you're done
This meditation serves as your reference point for the 7 days. Kind of like your "before" picture. Notice if the meditation felt difficult or easy? Notice if the time went by quickly or slowly? Notice if your mind felt busy or settled?
You're done for the day. Great work! We'll move on to the next exercise tomorrow.
Take a post-meditation selfie or post another image representing your first meditation on your social media, with a caption announcing your goal of making it to the end of the 7 days. Ask your followers to hold you accountable, and make sure to tag #meditationkickstart so the beginmeditating community can encourage you as well.
Sample accountability post