been used by a variety of people for thousands of years to relieve the
stressful thoughts and emotional upsets brought about by coping with life’s
near-constant worries, frustrations, and other demanding events. Meditation can bring calm and clarity to
allow us to move beyond the mind’s stress-inducing thoughts and emotional
upsets into the peace and clarity of present moment awareness. The variety
of meditation techniques, traditions, and technologies is nearly infinite, but
the essence of meditation is singular: the cultivation of mindful awareness and
expanded consciousness. People are initially drawn to meditation for many
different reasons. Some begin meditating because of a doctor’s recommendation,
seeking the health benefits of lowered blood pressure, stress reduction, and
restful sleep. Others come to meditation seeking relief from the fearful,
angry, or painful thoughts that constantly flood their mind. Still others come
to meditation to find greater self-understanding, to increase their intuitive
powers, or to improve their ability to concentrate. The purpose of meditation depends on the
meditator, but anyone who meditates regularly receives profound benefits on all
of these levels: physical, mental,
emotional, and spiritual.
doesn’t have to be hard or inconvenient. Benefits of meditation can be achieved by practicing for as little as
five to ten minutes daily, although once you learn the technique, you may wish
to meditate for longer periods.
challenge you will start with a series of guided meditations on three free apps
you can download on your smart phone or you can just go to the websites on your
computer. You will meditate for a total
of four weeks, seven times per week, for a total of 28 meditation sessions. The three websites are Calm https://www.calm.com/, Stop, Breath and Think https://app.stopbreathethink.org/ and Headspace https://www.headspace.com/login. These all have free meditations available but you will need to create an
account (the account does not cost anything although it is possible to purchase
subscriptions if you like). Each day for
four weeks you will go to the website or use the app on your phone for your meditation. Week 1 you will go to the Calm website; week
2 is the Stop Breathe and Think website; and week 3 is the Headspace
website. For the fourth and last week
you can choose what you want to do. You
can either find another guided meditation that interests you, repeat something
you particularly enjoyed, or you can just use the Calm app that guides your
To start, go to
Calm and create your account. If you like, download the free app to your phone. Try to set
aside a consistent time for your meditation every day. Pick a time that you know it is probable that
you can stop whatever you are doing and spend 10 minutes meditating. Scheduling it into your day is
essential. If you think you can just do
it without designating a time, it’s likely that you will get busy and forget to
do your meditation! Set a reminder on
your phone, computer or watch, and when you are reminded, don’t
procrastinate—do it right then! Each
day, once you have done your meditation, please check on the day on the
spreadsheet. If you miss a day, just
pick back up on the next day. Once you
have done a total of 28 days of meditation, you can turn in your sheet and get
1) Start with 10 minutes per day. 10 minutes is all you need to start noticing
the positive effects – and it’s a short amount of time, which makes it easier
to stick with the habit.
2) Sit up straight with hands on your lap and both feet on the ground. By sitting up,
you’ll be more aware and alert – and avoid dozing off.
3) Scan your body. Mentally scan
your body from head to toe, and observe any tension or discomfort. Then, notice
any thoughts that arise, as well as your underlying mood.
4) Consider your “why.” Pause for around 30 seconds and consider why
you’re sitting and meditating. Recognize any expectation or desire you have,
breath in, breath out, and just let it go.
5) Focus on your breath. Simply observe
the rising and falling sensation of your breathing. Focus on the quality of
each breath – whether each breath is deep or shallow, long or short, fast or
slow. Then, silently count your breaths.
One as you inhale, two as you exhale, three on the next inhale, and so on,
until you get to ten. Then, restart at one. If you notice your attention drift off, calmly bring it back and start
silently counting again. Try and exhale
fully with each breath, letting your rib cage come down. Just doing this alone
for a series of breaths will help move your nervous system out of fight or
flight and into the parasympathetic state (rest and digest).
6) Do it at the same time every day (many find mornings right after you wake up is best). Mornings are
usually best, because it puts you into a good frame of mind to start your day –
and it’s also when most of us have the most control over our time. But if there is another time that is more
convenient for you, then you should pick that. Always choose the time that is most convenient for you.
7) Keep your streak going. Once you commit to meditating every day, try not to break the
streak. The positive momentum will feel awesome. Three days, then five, then ten,
and so on – you’ll feel like you’re making some serious progress.
We hope you enjoy this challenge.