Meditation: Day 11

Nov, 06 2020
5 Minutes

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".

My Setup

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.

Insight Timer App


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:

Sitting on a mattress

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:

  • Belly breaths with my attention on the belly. Alternatively, you can focus on the tip of your nose (I don't do that because it gives me a headache. I just focus on the rise and fall of my belly)
  • Breath counting (inhale "one", exhale "two", continue until 10, and then restart. If you notice your mind wanders at any time before 10, just restart)
  • Chanting a mantra in my mind, usually "I love myself". This mantra  comes from the book Love Yourself, Like your Life Depends on It, which was written by Kamal Ravikant. (Yes, that's Naval's brother!)

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:

  • My mind does take a while to settle. Naval is absolutely right - 60 minutes is easier than 30. Or in my case, 60 is easier than 8. If you are meditating, and are only doing something in the range of 10 minutes, I encourage you to expand your sessions to 60 minutes
  • My mind loves to ask "what time is it?". This might be one of the most common thoughts I get. On a few occasions, I have succumbed and checked the time :P
  • On most sessions, the first 30 minutes of the practice is "noisier". But sometimes, the second half is noisier. This feels like I got less calm during the session. In these situations, I try to finish strong and use the sound of the finishing bells to regain focus and meditate for a few deep breaths (sometimes a few minutes after the bells finish)
  • It can sometimes be difficult to be "kind" to yourself whenever your mind wanders. I'm often very playful when I notice my "monkey mind" wandering, but on particularly stressful days, I notice myself getting frustrated with my inability to meditate. The key, I've found, is to be kind to that frustration as well. Negativity goes away when embraced by nonchalance and kindness
  • After meditating, it is easier for me to get into a flow state. There have been a couple days this week where I transitioned from meditation to flow relatively seamlessly.
  • Very often, I hear an earworm. Sometimes, it's just a random phrase from a lo-fi beat. Other times, it's the hook of a song. Unlike other thoughts, these things just don't go away for me. The only thing that helps is to use the noises that I hear. Lawnmowers are useful!
  • Naval mentioned that meditation can be like self therapy. So far in my experience, I would say I experienced therapy-like sessions one time out of eleven. I wouldn't be surprised if this continues to happen
  • One of the fun things that pops up are images of places I've been. During meditation, I've spontaneously revisited places I've been to - some of them beautiful, some of them not, and some of them a combination of both (SF). I don't dwell on these images, but they are a nice treat


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.

Good luck!