11 days ago, I started a meditation practice after stumbling across Naval’s tweetstorm (...for the second time - his stuff reverberates on the Internet):
I’ve tried establishing a regular meditation practice many times in the past, from classes at Buddhist monasteries, to Headspace and other meditation apps - but I couldn't get them to stick.
And then I read this comment from Naval:
"Sixty minutes are easier than thirty".
Perhaps that was what I was doing wrong. I wasn't meditating for long enough.
So I started doing that. This is my first "check-in".
Before I discuss my experience, I wanted to share how I meditate.
Insight Timer App
I use the Insight Timer App to keep track of the hour.
For the first 10 days, I had configured the app to start with the "Wood Block", and finish with the "Kangse" bell. However, today, I switched the ending bell to a Gong (has a nice sense of finality) and I added a Kangse interval bell at the ~45 minute mark.
I previously noticed that the Kangse bell helped me regain my focus during meditation. But that was happening at the end of the practice, so I moved it earlier in the session to reap that benefit. I expect I'll play around with the interval bells quite a bit.
Overall, Insight Timer is a great timer, but they've stuck all of these weird community features into the app. I just want the timer and the bells.
I started by sitting on a cushioned chair. This worked well.
Then around day 7, I moved to sitting cross legged on a mattress on the floor. Like this:
I've tried meditation cushions in the past, but they're not quite "tall" enough for me. Discomfort is one thing, but what really affected my meditation practice was that this would cause my legs to fall asleep. Sitting on a mattress helps quite a bit.
The first few days I started sitting on a mattress, I was able to sit for about 45 minutes. The last 15 minutes, I finished sitting in a chair. More recently, I was able to go the full hour sitting on the mattress, but today, I had to return to the chair.
I'm in a generally quiet area, and don't hear any voices. That said, I do hear the sound of airplanes flying over head, lawn mowers around, and other neighborhood sounds. I really like these sounds as I can focus on them for a moment and this helps me calm my thoughts and return to my meditation practice. Not that it lasts, my mind always finds a way to wander.
Before and After
Before I meditate, I spend a moment to record my mental state. Sometimes, I have a lot on my mind and there's a bit to write. I do the same after I meditate, and record my experience. Sometimes, I have to record "to dos" and ideas that arose during meditation.
I find that this helps me calm the mind a little before meditation, and the notes after meditation are helpful to see how my mental state changed over the hour.
In the past, I've tried a variety of meditation techniques:
These days, I use a combination of these techniques, switching them whenever I feel like it. I often use a mantra if I want to embrace a certain feeling (very often acceptance of the present situation). But most of the time, I try to do nothing.
Sadly, I have to report that 11 hours of meditation has not fundamentally changed me.
I am not suddenly much more focused. I am not suddenly a far more positive person. I am not monk-like in my attitude. In fact, it has felt like very little has changed.
But, as I've learned from Typeracer, skill acquisition can feel imperceptible even on a weekly level, and some days, you will actually feel like you're getting worse. So I'm sticking with it.
Here's what I've noticed so far:
For anyone considering a meditation practice, I encourage you to go "all in" on the 60 x 60 challenge. I can't speak as someone who has completed it, but I can say as someone who has tried other meditation practices in the past - this is the most effective one I've ever tried adopting.
60 minutes may feel excruciating, but it's necessary to sit with your mind for a long enough period of time such that it "finishes" thrashing about from thought to thought. Once your mind settles, if only for a moment, you'll experience a calm that makes it worth it.
I hope this post has been helpful for those looking to start their own 60 x 60.