Let me tell you the story about the most uncomfortable six minutes of my life.
It was about 3 years ago and I was nervous as hell—and that might even be an understatement. My heart and breath trembled with anticipation and whether I liked it or not, my entire body poured out sweat as if I had been wrapped in a sleeping bag and placed in the oven.
I can remember thinking, “What if I’m not good at this? What if I can’t do this?”
I mean, I had seen how to do it plenty of times on the internet—let’s be honest, it’s not hard to find with a simple Google search—and I even saw it on television from time to time, but I never considered what it would be like to try it myself.
With my body full of anxious excitement, I closed my eyes and said silently said to myself, “Fuck it, I’m going in!”
What proceeded was six minutes of complete and absolute awkwardness. Clearly, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but I tell you what, I think I got an “A” for effort that faithful morning—or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.
With each passing minute I felt by body finally give in to the experience and before I knew it, it was over…
I opened my eyes and thought to myself, “That shit changed me!”
Don’t Do it by Yourself:
Clearly, that was the story of the first time I meditated [if you thought something else… can’t say I blame you :-) ].
What I meant that day when I said those six minutes had changed me is that after those six minutes of meditating, I could actually see just how crazy my mind really was. Experiencing this objectively for the first time was enough for me and I knew I had to take my mental health into my own hands.
Everyone knows your first time is usually super awkward...
Meditation is no different.
Despite the stumbles, bumps and bruises along the way, I did indeed learn something about starting a meditation practice that I hope is helpful to those of you looking to take the leap and try it for yourself.
Help Yourself by Getting Help For Yourself:
Now, if I’m being honest here, I wasn’t all that motivated to keep up with a meditation practice after my first session ended. I still wasn’t convinced and obviously, no one sees the results of meditation after one six minute session.
Nonetheless, I kept going because I made a promise to myself after my public panic attack and after my first meditation to do something about the acute anxiety I was feeling on an almost daily basis.
Luckily, a few days into sitting in awkward meditation I heard an ad for an app called HeadSpace that claimed to teach people how to start their own practice.
Feeling as though life was speaking to me, I downloaded the app on my phone and let me be clear here:
I believe this app SAVED MY MEDITATION PRACTICE!
Doing it alone caused me to create terrible habits. Each day was harder than the next because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I was like a plane trying to fly to Hawaii with no radar. Simply put: I was lost!!!
The reason I think this app saved my practice is because it actually taught me how to practice! And in the end, if we practice with no coaching we are simply practicing bad habits.
I found this app at just the right time because I was still interested in meditation, but I was beginning to lose faith in the process. When I think about it now, how couldn’t I?
It was like trying to learn how to play golf on my own in that the more I tried, the worse I got, which meant the worse I played—and who wants to do anything if we suck at it?
The Good News:
Something awesome has happened in the last 5 years. If you’ve been paying attention, mindfulness and meditation have become what the cool kids call “main stream.”
Because of this, there are a bunch of amazing apps out there to help you learn how to meditate so you don’t create bad habits and destine your meditation practice to a short life.
My personal favorite, as I’m sure you can imagine: HeadSpace.
Because it’s simple, it’s intuitive, it’s informative and perhaps most importantly, Andy is a GREAT teacher. His voice and the way in which he delivers his lessons are world class and he has an amazing ability to break down complex theories in a simple and digestible way.
HeadSpace has lessons, teaching videos and sessions that are great for all meditators—not just beginners.
If you want a more customizable meditative experience I suggest you use the app my wife uses called Calm.
What she, and those who use Calm frequently say, is that it gives the user an opportunity to create their own meditation experience. With customizable sounds, music, time-settings and other options, Calm creates an environment where you can develop the right atmosphere to promote learning at your own pace and in your own way.
Finally, if you want a more immersive experience when learning mediation, I highly recommend the 10% Happier app created by ABC News anchor and New York Times Best Seller, Dan Harris.
Dan is particularly good at taking the bullshit out of meditation. So if you are looking for a more secular experience, I would recommend you get on the 10% Happier website or download their application.
One of the things I love most about the 10% Happier app is the ancillary content it publishes to help improve your meditation practice. Dan brings top notch teachers together from all over the world to record videos and write articles all designed to supplement your journey down the meditation learning curve.
Here’s the point. If your curious about starting a meditation practice - GET HELP!
Don’t do it alone because that will only discourage you and cause you to develop bad habits. I believe most of us need coaching when we first start meditation and the good news is that there are plenty of resources available to you whether it be through an app or through going to classes held in your community.
There’s really no more reasons to use the excuse “I’m not good at meditation.”
Because the truth is, if learning how to properly meditate is important to us, then we will have NO PROBLEM finding resources to help us learn and sustain a practice of our own!
So get off your butt, get on the internet and find a meditation community or download a meditation app. Either way, start NOW because the best time to start a meditation practice was yesterday. The second-best time to start a meditation practice is TODAY!
Thank you all for reading this week’s post! We hope you found some value in today’s article and be sure to check out the links below and download some one of the apps mentioned above!
See you next week!
and of course...