Updated: Oct 28, 2020
So, you just finished your first meditation session.
You’ve just taken your first step toward a life-long journey of mindfulness, self-discovery and understanding.
So the question is…
The hardest part about getting started is getting started
One of the biggest reasons people stop meditating after their first session is because they don’t know what to do next. We open our eyes after sitting in silence for the first time and think to ourselves “Well that didn’t make me feel any better.”
So many of us are left discouraged and unmotivated after sitting for our first session because we believe we're somehow "doing it wrong."
The truth is though, NO ONE is good at meditating the first time!!!
Meditation, just like riding a bike or learning algebra, is a SKILL!
As with any skill, meditation takes time, patience, understanding and PRACTICE for us to become “good” meditators.
Having said all that, it’s no wonder that so many of us give up meditation after the first try. The odds are stacked against us because we don’t know what we’re doing and we don’t know if it’s working.
So then, it’s no wonder that with a lingering taste like that in our mouths, most of us give up on meditation or try to rationalize to ourselves “meditation isn’t for me.”
Well here’s the problem with that kind of mindset…
Anything that’s worth doing in life isn’t supposed to be easy!
In other words, if you want to live with less stress and be less reactive, then you have to do the work and log some hours on the meditation cushion.
There’s no such thing as an overnight success and there is CERTAINLY no such thing as an overnight Buddha!!
The 10-day challenge:
Luckily for us there are a lot of smart people out there who have thought about all this stuff and who have published some really compelling research on making routines stick.
I have since taken that research and used some of the core principles to develop a 10 day road map for those of you interested in taking your meditation practice last for the long haul!
Commit COMPLETELY to the 10-day challenge.
If you don’t think you can find time to meditate for 10 consecutive days, then I recommend taking some time to carve space in your calendar for when you will have time.
For this 10-day challenge to work, we CANNOT miss a single say, so if we can’t commit to doing at least a little meditation work for 10 straight days, we should wait until the time is available to us!
Find a place in either your house or somewhere private where you can be alone for 2-15 minutes at a time.
It’s super important that we eliminate distractions while we meditate so if you have a family, you might want to tell them about your meditation space and ask them to respect your silence during the 10-day challenge or while you’re in your meditation space.
Of course, we know it isn’t always easy to find the time and space to be alone in a crowded house and if that’s the case for you, I would encourage you to explore finding time in your day elsewhere or perhaps getting up a little earlier or going to bed a little later to fit in your practice.
Either way, once you have your meditation spot picked out and you’re confident you will have eliminated distractions, you can move on to the next step.
Once you’ve committed to the 10-day challenge and found your meditation space, your next task is to make the space feel comfortable.
Whether that’s with pillows, music, lighting, spacing, whatever, it doesn’t really matter as long as it makes you feel at ease when occupying the space. For me, I use candles and a meditation bell with a comfy chair to set the mood and get me ready to meditate.
Whatever it looks like for you, the key to step 3 is that when you walk into your mediation space, you have things in there that remind you to relax but also get ready for the mediation ahead.
Get your ASS on the cushion once a day.
Traditionally, most people encourage beginners to sit for 10 minutes at least for their first meditation session.
Not me though!
I’m hesitant to put a time constraint on how long we should meditate each day during this 10-day challenge because I worry a time limit might discourage us from even making it to our mediation space in the first place.
My official recommendation is to sit in meditation for around 5-10 minutes each day but even if it’s for only 30 seconds and after you close your eyes you realize you can’t do it, that’s okay!!!
By simply putting ourselves in a space that was created by us specifically for mediation, we train our mind and bodies to subconsciously respond to the settings and the environment around us.
Similar to how rituals can jumpstart a positive physiological state that’s conducive to meditation, so too can creating an environment where everything in it tells us it’s time to meditate.
You might find that even if you are adamant about not meditating today, if you put your ass in the mediation chair you’ll end up sitting for way longer than you originally planned.
Track your progress in a meditation journal.
This is perhaps the most important part of the 10 day journey.
After each meditation session is over, write down how you feel in the moments before and after your meditation session. Write down what you might have learned or what you heard you mind repeatedly think. Finally, write down what was nice about the mediation and what was not so nice!
By journaling about our experience with meditation we are effectively practicing mindfulness about our meditation practice.
It’s way too easy for us to become subjective about meditation and lose sight about why we wanted to start it in the first place and unfortunately, the less mindful we are about meditation, the harder it becomes and the less we get out of it.
So, write it all down!
Use this journal to help you see your meditation practice and thus, your mind more clearly!
Your last task is to complete an after-action review (AAR) of the 10-day challenge in order to help you plan for the next 10 to 10,000 days of your mediation journey.
What was the original motivation to start meditation?
Who are you meditating for? (i.e. yourself, your loved ones, your future relationships, etc.)
What did you learn about meditation that you thought was true but wasn’t?
What did you think you knew about meditation that turned out to be false?
What insights did you gain about your mind in the last 10 days?
What was the easiest part about meditating over the last 10 days?
What was the hardest part about meditating over the last 10 days?
If you could do one thing different to ensure the next 10 days of meditation were better, what would it be?
DON’T skip this step because this AAR is a critical tool for us as we go off on our own and try to maintain this amazing mediation practice that we just established over the last 10 days.
Why the 10 day-challenge works
After reading my 10 day challenge you might be thinking to yourself, “Hey, this sounds a lot like habit formation.”
Well my dear friend, that’s EXACTLY what we’re trying to do here!
Our goal is to build the Habit of meditation and the only way to do this is to employ the following formula:
Consistent Action * Time = Habit
They say that a habit occurs when your body knows exactly what to do without conscious thought.
After my 10 day challenge you will have taught not only your mind to respond to meditation, but your body as well.
By making space that’s ONLY used for meditation and sitting once a day no matter what—even if it’s only for 30 seconds—we train our mind and body to prepare itself to settle and become mindful.
Our first day of meditation is no different than the first day we got behind the wheel of a car; the experience might have felt chaotic and uncomfortable but the more we did it, the less conscious effort we put into it until one day, we drive ourselves all the way to work without even thinking about the act of driving once…
THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is how we form a habit!
Thank you so much for reading this week’s post! We REALLY hope you take us up on our challenge to sit for 10 straight days. Tell us how it went!!!
Was it hard?
Did you enjoy it?
Will you keep meditating after the 10 days is over?
Let us know by leaving a comment and until our post next Wednesday, have a wonderful week!!