Week 2: Meditate Daily [Score +2]
My latest podcast obsession (I have hardly listened to anything else in the last three weeks) is the Tim Ferriss Show. Each episode is a long-form one-on-one interview in which Ferriss sits down with a top-performer in any number of arenas to “deconstruct the habits, tools, and routines” that have helped them get to where they are. Not only do I like how Ferriss conducts his interviews and the goal of the conversation itself, but because he’s a top-performer himself and a curious, unrelenting learner, his guests relate to him as a peer, so I think they’re more casual and at-ease than they are in more traditional interviews. (If this intrigues you, I’ll list some of my favorite episodes at the bottom of this post.)
I’ve noticed that when Ferriss asks about how the person gets the most out of their day, many mention a daily meditation practice is part of their routine. And most often, they do it first thing in the morning.
I’ve meditated inconsistently over the last couple years. I hear the recommendation to do so frequently and have often thought to myself, “I need to do that more,” but I’ve never made the effort to carve space out of each day and dedicate time to it. It’s easy to push it aside for something more urgent, or forgotten as the day gets warmed up.
But this intrepid introvert has a mind that can easily get into a spin of anxiety and stress. When I first tried meditation a couple years ago, it was in a 30-minute guided class offered at my office. I loved it. The class met at 1:00 each Tuesday afternoon, and I returned to my desk afterward feeling noticeably calmer and more focused. But 1:00 on a Tuesday afternoon is a tough routine to maintain. I got out of the habit.
In a moment of post-yoga inspiration, I decided to make that my activity for the second week: I chose to devote ten minutes a day to meditation, and I made myself get up 15 minutes early each day to do it. I downloaded the Headspace app and used that as my guide, because why not choose the most well-known (and free) app around and give it a go?
After a week, I can attest to the power of setting aside a few minutes at the start of the day to make a practice like this a habit. Before 5:30 a.m., my mind hasn’t yet had a chance to get really warmed up and churning over the day’s thoughts, plans, concerns, and ideas.
Recognizing progress with a practice like this is challenging. It should be the easiest thing in the world: sit quietly for ten minutes and allow thoughts to just pass through your brain without landing. Yet doing just that requires a mental control that most of us don’t cultivate naturally. So we have to practice. Over time, it becomes easier.
For me, I can most recognize that I’m progressing—and relaxing—when my breathing becomes easier. On a normal day, I often feel that when I try to take a complete, deep breath, I can get to about 95% before my lungs stop and say they’ve fully inflated. I know they’re lying, making it feel like I’m breathing inside a box and have met the bounding walls and can go no further. Trying again and again to get that 100% deep breath just makes me feel more unfulfilled.
However, after meditating more regularly, I’m getting to 100% more frequently. What’s the cause of this 95% feeling? Stress. This level of tension is so subtle it can hide in my muscles and allow me to go about my day without interruption. I want and need it to go away and stay away, so I’m going to keep this week of meditation going.
The Intrepid Introvert may be about pushing myself to get out of my routine, but I intend for a simple, daily meditation practice to become part of my new routine. I believe it’s worth it.
Looking for meditation resources yourself? Try the Headspace app or some of these:
- Mindfulness Based Achievement has a great 30-day challenge in which they send you a daily four-minute meditation.
- Tara Brach’s website and YouTube channel have a variety of guided meditations.
- The Meditation Minis Podcast with Chel Hamilton makes meditating anywhere easy. Chel Hamilton is a hypnotist, as well, so you know her voice is going to be soothing.
Have a good guided meditation resource I haven’t listed? Please share!
Some favorite recent episodes of the Tim Ferriss Show:
- Susan Garrett, Master Dog (and Human Trainer): I loved how she talked about “choice” being the key tenet of her training style, which has led to her being a champion in dog agility.
- A.J. Jacobs: Self-Experimenter Extraordinaire: I found Jacobs’ open-minded, curious, “I’ll try anything”—including a year of living literally by what the Bible says—optimism and outlook fascinating and empowering. I even wrote down a quote (which he shared as spoken by someone else I can’t recall): “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than it is to think your way into a new way of acting.”
- Mr. Money Mustache—Living Beautifully on $25-27K Per Year: Mr. Money Mustache, real name Pete Adeney, makes living frugally sound luxurious.
- Soman Chainani—The School for Good and Evil: Chainani is a bestselling author who still hardly believes it himself and doesn’t take it for granted. His frank, relaxed style made me immediately put his first novel on my to-read list.
- Did something outside my routine: +1
- Activity benefits my health/wellbeing: +1