Relationships

Monthly Challenge: Try to Meditate

Weekly Challenge: Try to Meditate

Years ago, we started a series of challenges on Cup of Jo. I would suggest things — memorize a poem, interview your parents — and whoever was up for it would join in. But after doing five challenges, Anton was born, and he was challenging enough, haha. The series went on hiatus. Last week, a few readers asked us to bring them back. Let’s do it! Are you in? Here’s the first one…


Do you ever meditate?

My friend Louise grew up in an Iowa town known for transcendental meditation. At just five years old, she was taught to meditate by repeating a mantra while she played with toys. At her high school, all the students would meditate for three hours a day. Amazing, right?

I’ve never been able to meditate. Funnily enough, I think it’s because I’m too anxious. Alex and I once went to an evening meditation workshop for a story he was working on, and the whole time I sat there trying to figure out where we should go to dinner afterward. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the point.

But meditation can actually make you happier. According to a fascinating New York Times article, researchers have shown that daily meditation-like thought can shift brain activity toward “positive emotional states…that make us more likely to engage the world rather than to withdraw from it.” In the study, participants were told to “relax with their eyes closed, focus on their breathing, and acknowledge and release any random thoughts that might arise,” and voila! With as little as five minutes of meditating a day, “a happier outlook is yours for the taking.”

So! Who wants to give it a go? This week’s challenge is to meditate for 10 minutes a day. Because if it really makes you calmer and happier, then 10 minutes would be worth it, right?

Andy Puddicombe, author of Get Some Headspace: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day, says it’s best to meditate first thing in the morning, if possible, and in the same place every time. “Avoid judging your meditation,” he told the Huffington Post. “It is tempting to think you are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at meditation. In truth, there is no such thing… Taming the mind is a skill to develop over a lifetime.”

What do you think? Do you meditate already? Do you feel good afterward? Would you be up for trying it? We’ll check in later this month!

P.S. Are you too busy? Also, cat bounce.

(Graphic design by Rachel for Cup of Jo. This post first appeared on Cup of Jo in May 2013, but we never completed the challenge, so we’re rerunning it today.)

  1. kelly libby says...

    I have started meditating (again) a few weeks ago with the Calm app. I love this app specifically because of the beautiful hosts voice. And, they offer a bunch of great series to help focus on areas that may interest you.

  2. Jenna says...

    This is a great resource for helping kids learn mindfulness: https://adventuresofsuperstretch.com

    It’a a free app for mindfulness and meditation that kids really enjoy. Hope you check it out! Thank COJ team for this beautiful site and community.

  3. I have tried quite a few meditation apps over the years (one is in French which is my native language and works better for me – despite being fluent in English, sometimes listening in my native language calms me more). I went through phases of doing 10 minutes of it in the morning, especially at very anxious times and it was very effective.
    I just don’t keep up with it outside of anxiety; however when I start making dinner in the evening, I like being on my own in the kitchen preparing and cooking food. I realised after all that this is my own meditating time and that I do this pretty much everyday! And I heard from others they also consider it cooking meditation. So maybe it’s a thing!

  4. Diana M. Astbury says...

    I used to meditate and I was in much better shape. It is great for the mind and body. I have a demanding boyfriend, so I will need to tell him to give me space and time. Thank you for this challenge. Accepted!

  5. Mary Bresnahan says...

    Thanks, Joanna, I’m in. I’ve meditated for about a year and a half, usually at night before bed. I’ve mostly done it for the breathing maintenance. I read somewhere that deep breathing helps reduce cortisol. I can’t say enough how much better I feel! But I think your challenge will help me commit to a morning meditation, and to try a little harder to actually meditate, instead of deep-breathe-kinda-meditate. So thank you!

  6. Alice says...

    I went through a phase not long ago of kind of meditating in the shower. It was really rather more mindfulness than meditation I guess, but it was a great way to start the day. Rather than letting my thoughts run away with me in the shower- thinking about the meetings I had that day, how busy the tube would be (I live in London), social plans, little worries- I would focus exclusively on what I was doing and the sensations I was feeling- the water on my head, the scent of the shampoo, the self-care act of cleansing myself. It was SUCH a great way to start the day, and I can’t for the life of me think why I ever stopped. This has inspired me to get back into it!!

  7. Becky rainer says...

    Got the greatest app the other day…I have practiced mindfulness and meditation for 3 days and it is making a difference!? it actually makes you feel better. The timing on you post was perfect. Thank you for encouraging a Mississippi mother of 3 grown children.

  8. Martha says...

    I’m in.

  9. Lorena says...

    I am in! I get anxious and finding serenity and inner-calm is a challenge.

    Also, I would LOVE to hear about your friend Louise’s experience growing up in this interesting town. What was the high school like? Has the town changed or is it still known for meditation?

    Thanks for putting forth this challenge!

  10. Liz says...

    I subscribe to Headspace and meditaste anywhere from 10-15 minutes daily. It becomes quite addictive and when I miss a day I feel a bit unsettled. I do think it helps keep me calm. I also listen to Equinox’s sleep meditation app and that really helps me sleep.

  11. K says...

    Joanna-
    I’m in! And also anxious ?.
    I have meditated consistently at some points in my life but currently struggling to do so with a 3 year old and 9 month old —trying to even brush my teeth feels challenging some mornings!
    That being said, i did a mindfulness meditation retreat a few years ago at Kripalu (please go if you’ve never been— it’s life changing) and one thing that helped me is this perspective: the Benefit of meditation is not in KEEPING your mind from wandering, but in BRINGING IT BACK to focus. So the way I see it, every time my mind wanders, it’s an extra opportunity to get more practice bringing it back in. So let it wander away! The benefit is in trying, not succeeding.

  12. Jillian says...

    We practice meditation with our 4-year old and, not only is it a wonderful tool for helping her learn mindfulness and self-regulation of her emotions, it’s also a great way to get her to sleep quickly and easily at night! If I have to rush to feed the baby, I’ll go with an app (the Mindspace app has a section with kids’ meditations, and the Calm app actually has a whole selection of meditative bedtime stories, some read by celebrities – including Nick Viall from the Bachelor!), but if we have some time, I’ll lead her in our own meditation. I have her take a few deep breaths, then prompt her to slowly think through the big events of our day one-by-one (I’ll list them out loud in a soft voice). Then I tell her to start mentally putting each part of her body to sleep, one at a time, letting them relax and sink into the surface of the mattress – starting with her toes and working all the way up to the top of her head. She’s usually out by the time we get to her arms!

    • K says...

      Wow this is awesome!! So if you have to deal with the baby do you turn on the app and leave it with her? Trying to juggle two kids is still a challenge for me and always interested in hearing how people handle these things!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love this, jillian!

    • Jillian says...

      K, yes! Especially the meditative bedtime stories on the Calm app, which are usually longer (15-30 minutes). I’ll tuck her in, then put one on my phone and leave it on her nightstand so it plays while I’m in the other room feeding the baby. She is ALWAYS asleep by the time I come back!
      If your kid is into yoga, that’s another great way to distract him/her while you tend to the baby. I put out a yoga mat and stream the Yoga Studio app through the Apple TV. My daughter will do a solid 20 minutes on her own now, and she gets SO into it! How did people even raise multiple kids before the iPhone? ;)

  13. Love this!
    My latest professional challenge, as a pediatric OT, has been how to teach this skill to young children. My focus has been on “mindfulness” (more than just meditation) to strengthen the brain body connection, which helps with overall awareness. I’ve gathered our clinic’s favourite resources here https://www.pinterest.ca/trish3722/help-my-child-learn-mindfulness/
    and am amazed at how simple and fluid it is to integrate this into a family’s every day life. Thanks for bringing up this topic!

  14. Caroline says...

    I meditate most days for about 10 minutes using the daily meditations on the Calm app. I has most definitely helped me to manage my general anxiety. I also noticed that I’m more mindful in general. It feels like I have a little buffer that surrounds me (not always) that allows time and space before reacting to a situation or trigger. Not sure if that makes any sense but anyway I highly recommend it!

  15. Whitney says...

    I want to try! I have a 3 1/2 year old and 10 month old. My husband and I work from home, and our girls are with a nanny during the mornings. It’s a LOT of togetherness from the start of my day. 10 minutes seems doable and like it could help me enter the day with a little more clarity. Thanks for leading this!

  16. I’m so in! I’ve been an on-and-off meditator for years and am very ready to make it a permanant habit:)

  17. Emily M. says...

    I’m all in! I’ve got a bit of a head start as I’ve been working on this for a year and a half. But I love the idea of all doing it together.

    Quick tip: Ever since I started using a timer, my meditation practice has improved because I’m not worrying that I’m going to be late to hit the shower.

    Joanna, I suffer from anxiety as well (poor us!) and while I think it is harder for us to meditate, I think the return on investment is that much greater.

    Good luck everyone!
    xo

  18. Meg says...

    I tried starting a meditation practice once and had a hard time sticking with it. But I like to practice yoga and when I do, I try to quiet my mind and focus on my breath. When I’ve finished a practice I feel so relaxed — physically and mentally. If I can squeeze it in in the morning, it makes such a difference in my day.

  19. Ten minutes!? OMFG that gives me anxiety just reading it. I’ve tried doing it for a few minutes and failed. I should probably try again.

    Chopping vegetables is meditative to me ;)

  20. Jennifer P says...

    I’m so in! Thank you for inspiring this.

  21. Loving this initiative! :) Very helpful post for meditating beginners.

  22. Heather Ruth says...

    I teach a restorative Yin yoga class. I encourage students to think of the practice as a moving meditation. A Yin class is great for people struggling with maintaining a meditation practice, and also great for beginners. Find a great yin class near you, and if it’s candlelit, even better. I’ve gotten great feedback, it really works.

  23. Sadie says...

    We must be on a wavelength– I started meditating last fall and just set myself a challenge to do it daily for 30 days. It’s really helped me with anxiety and depression. Being aware of, but not stressed out by, my worries or negative self-taught has been a game changer.

    Incidentally, my friend went to the same high school as Louise and HATED the meditation classes. He swears that all he learned was how to nap sitting up!

  24. Gregg Thomas says...

    The Bible speaks about meditation. It is paramount to one’s well being to consider what one is meditating on. God wants people to meditate on His Word. John 3:16 is a good place to start. Questions? Please ask.

  25. Veronika says...

    Yes, I do meditate I got my husband to do it and we both love the benefits. Years ago I took the Silva method course which helped me to overcome a really diffcult time in my life. Ever since I’m hooked. I believe that as a workout is essential for our health and wellbeeing a mental workout is just as important!

  26. anja says...

    I`m in. Have already started during the last few weeks as I have a horrific situation with my parents (both in the psychiatric unit of their hometown hospital now) and as the one with the power of attorney, everything keeps pouring onto me. Would like to do it on a regular basis as I could already feel that it helped. There was a challenge by Sharon Salzberg called commit to sit- it is now over, but i think the meditations should still be online:https://www.sharonsalzberg.com/topic/day-27-meditation-compassion/

    • Whitney says...

      Your situation sounds so difficult. I hope you are able to find moments of peace amidst the chaos and stress. Thank you for sharing a bit of your story. My younger brother was in a psychiatric hospital for a week and has had some pretty intense challenges in the following 11 years. Not that our situations are the same, but wanted you to know you’re not alone.

  27. I’m with you, Joanna. Every time I tried to meditate I would end up making plans or thinking about not thinking and wondering when I can stop. Recently I found a book, Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World and it comes with 8 meditations. The book very factually explains what is going on inside your brain with your thoughts and how when our thoughts are running away, our brain is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing! But that this part of our brain is not who we are as a whole. I have found the simplicity and more cerebral approach incredibly rewarding. And the narrator of the meditations sounds like the guy who reads the Harry Potter audiobooks. So in some way, I associate that time as being whisked away to a place where magic and anything is possible. : D
    I’ve by no means become a daily practitioner, but it is great to have another resource to manage stress and anxiety.
    Here are the links if you are interested.
    https://www.amazon.com/Mindfulness-Eight-Week-Finding-Peace-Frantic/dp/1427217165
    And the meditations are on Soundcloud, same name.

  28. Louise says...

    Just staring at that graphic is meditation is enough for me at the moment – the cat looks so happy :D

  29. Julia says...

    I was feeling low and not at all well in the crazy world of working in an advertising agency and I knew this had to change asap. A new job was on the long list, and meditation on the short list as I could start immediately and do it at home whenever I wanted. It helped my getting this tight feeling in my stomach away and I feel much better now. I meditate in the evening with the app from calm.com because that time seems to be the best for me. But however – just find your own way and don’t ever let anybody tell you that your way of meditating is wrong. ❤️

  30. Becky says...

    I downloaded headspace and super excited to try this. I am a naturally hung strung gal, so type a that it’s in my blood, literally my blood type is A. For a period of time I went to my local gym almost daily to run for 45 mins just so I would exhaust myself and not feel overwhelmed by end of day thoughts. I worked as a therapist for almost a decade. A coworker of mine was really into mindfulness. For a period of time I practiced really being aware of my posture and foot placement when running. Holy moly did that help! Lately I’ve been thinking I need to practice this more in my everyday life.

  31. Carmen B. says...

    I’ll give it a go.

  32. Katelyn says...

    What a wonderful challenge. As a school counselor this is something I’ve been working on with my students. Mindfulness and meditation can be great for anxiety and calming our minds. The problem is we often put too much stress on how to do it. It doesn’t have to be time when you think of nothing. Instead make it time that you focus on one thing. Give your mind one job. And when it’s distracted remind it of its job to focus on the one thing. Suddenly meditation and mindfulness don’t seem so daunting.

    Smiling Mind is an app with guided meditations that are about 10 minutes. A great resource to start the challenge. Also, here’s a video that explains mindfulness and meditation: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=n6pMbRiSBPs

  33. Tara says...

    I know others have mentioned this, but there are many different forms of meditation and mind rest does not equal physical rest! Some people find it easier to meditate while their body is moving. Just a thought :)

  34. Katie says...

    I can’t believe this – just today on my commute home I was thinking that I should try a stretch of daily meditation – am definitely on board!

  35. Polly says...

    When I’ve meditated – I’ve done it at night while listening to a guided meditation. The ones I like are the 21 day meditation series by Oprah and Deepak. And yes. I usually fall asleep during it. But there’s no ‘right’ way to meditate. And falling asleep easily and peacefully while in a meditative state is sooooo much better than the what-if-fest my mind usually sends me to.

    So thank you. I will restart ye olde meditation machine.

    P.S. The 21 day meditation challenges are also great because they have clear parameters. As in, here’s a goal. Meditate for 21 days. And feel better.

    xo

    https://chopracentermeditation.com/?sso_code=eyJpdiI6IkZ6RUQ3ZjlySWNCckhwbis1QUxlVnc9PSIsInZhbHVlIjoiSEFVbGdhVkhpMitcL3NZSVBLTk1veEs0N2xRMkE3ZDhPbGxwQ2g3UHhrS1V6KzcxYStcLzVUVjdrcTM2WUJCWE1ZT3o5ZVBxNHJyUjlpS0VTWmJqejdDUGdHMzljOUVaS1FwcGVBM1JjZ0VvUT0iLCJtYWMiOiI2MWI1MzI2ZTFiY2M4YjMxODA5NjljNTI4NjJkYmI5YjZhNjM2MzU2ZWE5NDU2YzA5MjU2ZGRiMzQxYzI3MmQzIn0%3D

  36. Sarah says...

    Using the 10% Happier app has been incredibly beneficial to my mental well being this year! Lots of great free guided meditations and a great investment if you set up an annual membership.

  37. Rick says...

    The secret to meditation is to not “try”. The more effort you put into it….the harder it is to do.

  38. Katie says...

    This is my New Year’s Resolution! I’ve been meditating most days since the beginning of January, and I’ve noticed a significant difference. I even meditate with my students. They love it. (I teach third grade.)

    I have anxiety and depression. Meditating has helped remold my brain so that I’m better able to handle situations that would normally cause my body commotion. I can more readily go to a state of clarity and relaxation than fight or flight mode. It’s changed my life. It’s not always easy though!!

    I think it goes without saying: Count me in!!

  39. emmanuella says...

    I know I shouldn’t take it badly but I can’t help it… every time I meditate, I’m reminded of the $500 I spent on a mantra when I desperately needed that money for food. Transcendental meditation and Vedic meditation have (like any institution) a dark side. To this day, I don’t know why they charge so much for pomp and circumstance and a mantra.

    • Cheryl says...

      That’s awful! I’ve never heard of buying a mantra.
      I read the teachings of Yogananda and they are the cost of printing and shipping and handling. But they are six volumes of incredible wisdom and meditation techniques passed down from a line of great Raja Yogis. It makes me so sad to think you were exploited. I guess there are shady people everywhere hiding behind the guise of religion. But the religions themselves are incredibly sacred.

  40. Pritesh Desai says...

    I do. Usually at night. I sleep better. Started with transdental meditation but than change it to breathing concentration.

  41. Denise says...

    I meditate 10 minutes at a time, 4-5 times per week. I do it right before my bedtime, along with a gratitude journal, and have been doing it since last summer. And not to sound dramatic, but it’s changed my life. My anxiety has decreased so much (still there though lol) and I haven’t gotten sick (!!) since I started. I lead a pretty busy life (full time school psychologist in an inner city, mom, wife, etc.) and used to feel so overwhelmed. And I don’t anymore, and couldn’t be more grateful.

  42. Cheryl says...

    Meditation is a way of life. Nothing compares to it nor satisfies as much as meditation. It’s the only method of seeing your thoughts as separate from yourself and beginning to unravel the ideas we hold on to that don’t serve us. I was able to stop drinking, deepen my concentration and learn new things quickly, and best of all feel connected to something more powerful than myself-the source of all creation.
    But in the beginning it is not all roses and sunshine. You have to sit with yourself as you are and discover those dark cobwebby corners. What helped me is to get out of my story and my ego consciousness and imagine who I am without a body and desires and mundane tasks. The only way I can describe that feeling is the smallness and awe one feels when looking up at the stars.
    We are made of stars, too.
    Please give it a chance. It’s not a life changer, it’s the beginning of your real existence. Good luck.

  43. Janna says...

    I’m in! I bought the Headspace app in January, used it for the first three weeks, and felt a lot better… but I’ve been out of the habit now and want to pick it up again. My goal is 10 min every morning- before I was doing it in the evening, and that was harder to motivate myself to do.

  44. Stacey says...

    I’d love to know the mantra your friend was taught as a child when playing so I could share with my 4 year old!! I may be a lost cause with meditation but I can teach my son the tools we all need!

  45. Komekia Sutter says...

    I’ve just started practicing for healthier lifestyle. Finding the right time every morning varied but I did manage to get it done daily. It’s truly beneficial to mind,body, and soul. Incorporated with healthy eating of course.

  46. I do monthly challenges each month – dry brushing, drinking legit oz. of water, etc. I’ve learned so much by doing these little challenges. I’ve wanted to put meditating on the list for a long time but keep gearing up for it. I guess the Universe wants me to take your challenge instead. :) I’m in.

  47. I don’t meditate, but I knit. Same thing.

    • Jona says...

      I just started knitting too and it’s been so calming!

    • emmanuella says...

      This cracked me up. So true.

    • Creativity is my meditation too.

  48. Lindsey says...

    I gave myself this challenge exactly – 10 minutes of meditation every day – back at the beginning of December and I use the Headspace app by Andy Puddicombe. It’s been an amazing journey! I definitely find myself more present and better able to manage my stress and anxiety. Meditation isn’t a cure-all but it has been so helpful for me personally.

    • Lindsey – I love that you say: meditation isn’t a cure-all. It reminds me of a book I read a year or so ago: 10% Happier. That guy said the same thing; it’s not a cure-all but it makes him 10% happier. :)

    • Chelsea says...

      LOVE the Headspace app! It has become an important routine in my crazy life. I had a big interview the other day and right before it, I did a quick 10-minute meditation. What a difference it made.

      I’m a huge worry-wart that overthinks everything before bed and wakes up in the middle of the night to make lists. Meditating before bed has become a crucial part of winding and calming down, and I just feel so much better about things that would normally stress me out. Meditation is so powerful!

  49. Kirsten says...

    I’m off and on with my meditation practice. But when I do it I know that it helps me be more present and less anxious.

    I’ve recently actually started attending Sunday services at my local Zen temple, and my absolute favorite part is what they call “sound practice”—everyone in the room chants and the room fills with sound and vibration. You can feel it in your body and for me it’s nice because there is no where else my mind can go during those few minutes.

  50. Bailey says...

    Last year my anxiety spiked. I started a daily 10 minute meditation in the morning–after showering, before breakfast–and I stuck with it for months. It helped. But then it started to feel like work. It became too routine and my focus started to drift to all the daily tasks ahead. It completely lost its effectiveness. Now, rather than a same time, same place, 10-min meditation, I aim to be more mindful throughout the day, taking breaks when I need to to pause and focus on my breath, even if it’s just for a minute. I still have lots of anxiety, but I’m better at calming my mind.

  51. Yes to meditation! Thank you for giving this challenge!

    My husband and I both suffer with “busy brains” so mindful meditation typically ended in more lists of things to do and wondering what we wanted to eat next. Then we found Breathwork Meditation – which is an active form of meditation that uses the breath to quiet the mind and release stress. POW! It was the first time since I think I was a kid that the voice in my head stopped talking AT me. It changed my life. I actually started my own Breathwork practice just so I could bring the experience to other “busy brain” people :)

    I post a daily “Take A Minute – Breath with Me” post on my Power Breathwork instagram account to help people take a minute whenever and wherever they can to reconnect.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BgFFRmHgY04/?taken-by=powerbreathwork

    I hope people will take this meditation challenge – we all need to reconnect to ourselves and be examples to our kids on how to stay connected to your true self.

  52. Cay says...

    I’m In! I’m going to go for twice a day, since at the middle school in Brooklyn where I work, the whole school (kids and all staff) already meditates every day, together. It’s a wonderful time, and my challenge will be to add a second session at home. Thanks for inspiring me!!

  53. Debbie says...

    i’m in!

  54. Amanda says...

    IM im! :)

  55. Di says...

    Love this challenge! I have been working on making meditation a daily habit, rather than the sporadic activity it used to be for me. It’s helped my depression and anxiety so much. If people are struggling with ten minutes, I’d suggest starting with shorter sessions and slowly building up to longer ones. When I first began meditating, I had trouble sitting still for a few minutes without fidgeting and worrying about everything I needed to accomplish. Now I wonder where the time goes. It’s a skill to build like any other.

  56. Kirsten says...

    I remember these! Glad to see them returned.

    Speaking of old series–I remember when you used to interview women about managing work and life with a family. At the time, it wasn’t super relevant to me, but as a new mom I would SO LOVE to see something on that topic from you again. I’d especially love to read transparent conversations about managing things like childcare costs. It’s awesome to see moms and their families profiled but I’m always wondering HOW DO THEY DO THE STUFF! Especially now that I’m trying to figure it out for myself. Like, how many hours per week do they have babysitting? What tips do they have for laser focusing and actually getting stuff done when childcare is around? How much does their daycare cost? Do they have lots of family that helps them out? Do they have a partner who has a flexible/inflexible job? You’ve had some talking about money posts before and this issue seems so important to me.

    • Katey says...

      I agree with Kirsten. Would love to see some transparent posts about this and all the various ways people approach this. It’s tricky! I don’t have kids yet, but getting up there, and the longer I wait the harder it seems to get when thinking about how to finance it all. My husband and I both have relatively “good” NYC jobs, but it would still be a huge dent to our budget if one of us stayed home part or full time or if we paid for childcare. I guess it’s just the reality of having kid(s), especially with no family around to help out…someone’s got to take care of them! No doubt there are one million joyous reasons to have a child, but the reality is that having a child comes at some sort of financial cost.

  57. Annie says...

    Guys, I tried meditation so hard. When it went well I noticed I had that “in the zone” feeling of being completely focused on the task at hand, unburdened by other stressors in my life that make me worry and go into a spiral of overthinking (as one does). However, it wasn’t something that happened everytime I attempted meditation and I really wanted a surefire way to get that feeling! I work for a program that researches the physical and mental benefits of exercise in children, so I know that exercise can have a similar meditative, “in the zone” effect. I always hear about jogging providing that feeling but unfortunately for me, long runs lead to even more overthinking and I get bored super easily on them and end up walking.

    Enter my neighborhood soccer leage!!! Joining the Detroit league a few years ago is without a doubt one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Playing soccer takes me out of my head and requires me to focus on what is outside of me. It helps me to get into my body! It’s so fast paced and exciting! It requires you to RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN like when you were a kid (like Phoebe)! You can see yourself getting better and better with each practice and your confidence improves! I achieve that same “in the zone” feeling I got when I was meditating, except it also got me in the best shape of my life, helped me meet new amazing friends. Plus my boyfriend and I literally met by crashing into eachother on the field.

    You don’t usually have to have played before to join a league and most major cities should have a lot of different options and skill levels. I probably sound bonkers but I cannot express how wonder this sport has been. So for anyone who finds that traditional meditation isn’t for you or you want something in addition to it, I highly encourage you to find any kind of team sport to join. Why should all that fun stop just because we aren’t kids anymore?

    • Libby says...

      Love your comment! I get exactly what you mean. I play indoor soccer with my friends and I know if my anxiety has been bad all day by the end of the game I’ll be feeling great! Currently I’m 6 months pregnant and what I miss most is running around on the court like a kid without a care in the world. Can’t wait to get back to it.

  58. Kate says...

    Lately I’ve been using the Calm app. I love that it offers a different short (about 10 minute) meditation each day. The “sleep stories” are also great.

  59. Courtney says...

    Creating a meditation practice was a goal of mine for 2018 so over the past several weeks, I’ve been setting my alarm to wake up earlier so that I can do yoga and then a 10-minute meditation with the Calm app. I highly recommend Calm. They have a really wide selection of meditations, sleep stories, and music to help you meditate and it’s been incredibly helpful. It’s slowly becoming a habit and I really feel it is making a positive difference in my life. Yoga has also been life-changing. Taking time away from technology to be alone, in quiet, with my own mind has been really refreshing. I’ve struggled with anxiety for years but I’ve been able to better manage it with these tools. I hope they help someone else. Also, I love the idea of group challenges and look forward to seeing more!

  60. I highly recommend the meditation app Simple Habit! It is the only meditation app I have actually stuck with and I have been meditating a few times a weeks for about a month now. It’s free and great for beginners who need gentle guidance.

    The best part of the app is the “on the go” 5 minute meditation feature. There are a variety of mediations to choose from based on what you are doing. Some of the categories include walking, SOS!, sleep, and taking a break.

  61. molly says...

    Challenges – how fun!! I LOVE the Headspace app (Andy’s voice is so fab!) and I like that he’s so encouraging & non-judgemental & that you can meditate for just 3 or 5 minutes, working up to longer stretches.

    Will you please repeat the “memorize a poem” challenge as well?! That’d be so neat & I clicked thru to your original post & it was SO SWEET. I love the mental furniture notion…xo

  62. Jessica says...

    There are SO many benefits to meditating but FYI 10 minutes is a LONG time, something to aspire to. For those just starting, 3 minutes or even 1 or 5 is a good start.

    I’m joining the challenge because I tell all my patients to meditate but I never do it…

  63. I’ll give it a try… again! I went to TM several years ago, got training and my mantra and did meditate every day for a while in the hopes that it would help my insane allergies, but it didn’t so I stopped. And we were prepping our house to put it on the market at the time, so I felt like I never had even 5 extra minutes to spare. Still don’t, with running a business, but I should probably do it anyway. It’s so hard when you have so many thoughts and so little time! I really liked TM as a form of meditation though, I hate then ones when someone talks you through the entire thing, that is so distracting.

  64. Shaunna says...

    My husband and I meditate together for 10 minutes every day. When we first started, it was difficult to find the time, and we would often put it off until the end of the day (or forget to do it altogether). Then we started keeping track on our calendar, and it became a challenge to keep the streak going. Our current streak is 209 days! Now it’s a welcome part of our daily routine. I’ve been an anxious person my whole life, but with meditation I’ve noticed a huge change in my awareness. I am much more calm and clear in my thinking, and I’m even better at expressing my thoughts and emotions. I also think meditating with my husband has had a really positive impact on our relationship. I think it’s an excellent idea to make meditation your first challenge and I hope lots of readers will participate!

  65. jade says...

    Challenge Accepted. I am a naturally anxious person as well and always find it really hard to meditate. I remember going to a Buddhist temple on a High school excursion where one of the monks lead a 2 hour meditation session. We were sat on elevated stools and the entire time I couldn’t help but focus on the fly buzzing around the room. Since then I have come up with 2 different ways I try to meditate. I swim laps every morning and find that having to concentrate on my breathing and then getting into a rhythm really helps to focus my mind. The other way I try to meditate sounds bonkers – I lie on the floor and pick one song to play on repeat. The first time I listen to it I try to listen to the whole song. The second I try to listen to just the lyrics. The third I try to listen to just the music or If I want to get specific just the drums or just the guitar. It only takes about 10 minutes to complete the cycle all up but I find by having a simple task to concentrate on it really helps me to stop worrying about not being able to meditate “properly”, focus on my breathing which I find a real struggle and come away relaxed and recharged.

    • Lisa says...

      Love this idea

    • This is great – invent a style of meditation that works for you. It really doesn’t have to be sitting in the lotus position.

  66. Laura C. says...

    I would love to reply to many of these comments. I would like to say I’m in, but after two years of therapy, regular meditation and me are no match. I tried every time and I got more anxious because I was not doing it properly. But prayer and going to church for a thirty minutes service works great on me. Prayer is just another form of meditation eventually, isn’t it?
    Anyway I would like to share the best YouTube channel for meditation, in my opinion: The Honest Guys. Go check them, they’re wonderful.
    But for the love of the challenge, I’m gonna take it!

    • Sara says...

      Agreed, meditation makes me feel more anxious because I always end up feeling like I’m fighting a losing battle. But, just lying quietly in bed or going for a short walk is meditative for me.

  67. Anne says...

    A question for the dedicated meditators out there – how do you work it into your routine? I love how I feel when I meditate, but somehow it’s so hard to actually get my butt in a chair to do it. Mornings are a rush and I already wake up so early, and I tend to forget in the evening. I’ve always struggled with setting a consistent morning routine. Any advice?

    • Misha says...

      Anne, I don’t know if this helps but I do it before I get out of bed in the morning and at night when I get into bed. The lady’s voice on the Breethe app is the most soothing, healing coach for me & I like beginning and ending my day for just a few minutes.

    • Liz says...

      I do it in my bed, first thing after I wake up, before brushing my teeth even. Hard for something else to interrupt me that early. First things first!

    • Melissa says...

      My meditation teacher always said that anything is better than nothing. Sure, it’d be great if we took twenty minutes every morning as soon as we woke up to sit in our designated meditation area and go. But it just isn’t always possible.

      Meditation can be as simple as sitting on the edge of the bathtub for five minutes with your eyes closed, focusing on the breath. Meditation can be walking to work and holding all of your energy on what you’re seeing: any time you find yourself noticing physical sensations in the body, your emotions, or have stray thoughts, just redirect them to focusing out on sight.

      My teacher would always say, “Everybody has 10 minutes a day they can devote to this. Nobody is too busy that they can’t take 10 minutes, if this truly is a priority for them.”

      (PS: Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle to make time for all this, too.)

    • Abbey says...

      Morning – otherwise it would never happen for me consistently. i do it first thing after getting out of the shower (if i do it right after waking up, i think i might fall back asleep). after my meditation, i reward myself with a cup of coffee before the house wakes.

  68. Baltina says...

    Yes! Loved these challenges I’m totally in.

  69. Christy says...

    I tried to start meditating recently but found it really ramped up my anxiety and was even making me a little depressed. I googled it and found lots of people saying the same thing. The theory is it stirs up latent feelings and memories which can be bad if you repress stuff a lot. I did find myself remembering a lot of uncomfortable things and feelings during meditation. Supposedly that gets better as you release those old feelings and get better at settling the f down, but I don’t know, I’m kind of spooked now. Maybe this is a sign to try again though!

    • Melissa says...

      This is all totally true, Christy. The thing is, meditating your way through these repressed feelings is super healthy. Day-to-day life can trigger these repressed feelings and, of course, the experience is more intense when you’re undergoing trauma. By working through them under healthy, safe conditions, it gives you more control.

      That said, I would advise ANYONE with trauma in their past to seek therapy simultaneous to starting a meditation practice. There’s a good chance you’ll need help with those big feelings.

    • emmanuella says...

      I had a negative experience too, though dissimilar to your particular experience. I found it made me chronically dizzy. It took me a long time to figure out that it was meditation because I swear if you google the symptom dizziness, almost every disease and affliction known to man pops up. Anyway, I stopped meditating because of laziness and my dizziness faded away.

  70. Emily says...

    I love love love Tara Brach’s podcasts, both the lectures and the meditations, and I love how she talks about each time that we bring our attention back to the body and letting go of thoughts, we are strengthening our meditation muscles. So it’s not necessarily how long you can SUSTAIN the quiet, but how often you RETURN to it. Over and over and over again. It changed everything for me. Every time your mind wanders and you bring it back, you’re doing the work. It’s not the absence of thoughts, it’s that you continue to train the mind. Without thoughts, there’d be no practice! xoxo

    • lucyhope says...

      Love this!! Thank you, Emily. Tara Brach is my guru, and your interpretation of this idea has really helped me. I keep returning to this idea and it is lovely way of thinking about returning to presence instead of trying to maintain it….xoxo

  71. Sarah says...

    In!

  72. Francesca says...

    I meditate every day. I’m a ball of anxiety smoosh if I don’t. It has helped me ride the seas of parenting so much more effectively. They say mediation I best suited to those people who think they’re too busy or too anxious meditate. To me, that makes you the absolute perfect candidate. It’s changed my life. I’m very evangelistic about it so I need to be careful! You need to arrive in your own time and place.

  73. Amanda DeWit says...

    I literally just meditated for the first this morning as an attempt to clear my brain and ease anxiety. I listened to a free-to-prime-members clip on Audible and followed the instructions. It was called “EXHALE Anytime Meditation.” It truly was calming and made the rest of the day so much more productive. I’m up for the challenge!

  74. Nina says...

    Been on this challenge (on-and-sometimes-off) for about 3 years now! I do feel like over time it has reduced my background anxiety level – stressful things still stress me out, but I’m starting from a lower baseline and it doesn’t reach the same pitch, if that makes sense. I mostly do silent meditation now, but I really like some of the guided metta (loving kindness) meditations on tarabrach.com. And in the past couple of weeks I’ve loved listening to Sylvia Boorstein’s short podcast episodes about living mindfully: http://www.sylviaboorstein.com/audio/ .

  75. Caitlin says...

    In! I keep saying I want to start meditating, even downloaded the headspace app but never tried! it’s pathetic i can’t find 10 minutes to do something so important when i easily spend 3x that mindlessly scrolling through instagram. thanks for the challenge – accepted!

  76. I got really into these guided audio meditations when I was pregnant. A woman with a soothing British accent guides you through lush visualizations of walking through a garden holding your newborn and the like. It was meant to prepare me for (possibly) using hypno birthing techniques… but I ended up having a c-section. Oh well! At least it got me into meditation.

    • Toni says...

      Hi Paige – I’d love to check this out. Where can I find it? Thanks!

  77. anne says...

    My friend just shared with me the Hawaiian prayer. You look in a mirror and say to yourself, “thank you, I’m sorry, I forgive you, I love you,” several times a day. It may be a little harder than you think it would at first to look at and say these things to yourself. As you do it more and more you can get more specific. It really can center you and help you take control of your feelings and accepting yourself. Very meditative.

    • Elke says...

      I love this. And, actually, this is the second time I’ve seen this in as many days, which I took as a sign to write it down in my journal. I immediately felt a sense of softening.

    • Kristin says...

      Yes to this! I’ve been doing this for several months now and it has helped me so much with anxiety, self-respect and made me realise that i am enough!

  78. Kat says...

    Thank you, and yes! I will be starting back in today!

    My physical therapist for pelvic pain got me started on meditation about a year ago. Of course, when my pelvic pain begins to drift away, I find that I “forget” to meditate, but when it comes back, I’m right back in it, and girl… it helps! I tried to meditate without guidance for a long time, but honestly, Tara Brach’s guided meditations are so wonderful and I’m better with it. She has a bunch of free ones online — just google her name :) Good luck, everyone!

  79. gfy says...

    I began meditating while living in Washington, DC for 10 years. Meditation was not merely welcome quiet time but more like a requirement in order to get through each day. I found it so nurturing for my headspace as well as the break it gave my body’s stress responses (I also quit caffiene), that I easily fell into ten minutes, twice a day (with other 10 min breaks during the day as necessary – I’d do 10 in a bathroom stall if necessary). It really saved my sanity and brought me to a new level. I finally moved and my life radically improved and now I meditate daily, using a slightly different technique (there are so many). There are many benefits, but a great one is that you are much calmer throughout the day, (people notice) and everything seems more manageable.

    Over time I found I settled into 40 mins, twice a day, which may sound crazy but it’s really not, once you feel the benefits. First thing upon waking, and right when you get home from work. Before bed is not ideal because it hightens mental clarity and I found I’d be too alert to sleep so before dinner worked best for me.

  80. Betsy says...

    Thank you thank you for bringing back the challenges – and I love your first choice. One of my health goals this year is “tend to what needs tending,” and I’ve rather neglected mindfulness. I’ve carved out time for running, for stretching, for dry brushing, for tongue scraping… and if can do that, I can do 10 minutes of meditation.

  81. AJ says...

    I learned Transcendental Meditation 4 years ago (after being the biggest skeptic) and it has been a life-changer for me. I was never disciplined enough to stick with other meditation options and I liked the one-on-one teaching aspect of TM. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that it creates space – ie, I’m less reactive and don’t tend to take things so personally. Before TM, I was exactly the opposite.

    • Jillian says...

      Yes! I’ve also noticed the same effect from TM. I’m slower to react – out of anger, fear, or sadness – and better at taking a step back and kind of observing situations in a mindful way. My emotions don’t feel as frantic and all-encompassing (which is a huge improvement from the near-constant anxiety I used to walk around with).

  82. Erin says...

    For those who are too scattered or anxious to meditate, Zen 12 is a program of 12 min. tracks that use binuaural beats to “cheat” and entrain your brainwaves for you, so you get the benefits of meditation with less effort. I’ve tried it and it really helps my brain to chill out (I have such a busy brain!).

    There are a couple of free youtube videos so you can try it out for free. Make sure to listen with headphones or earbuds to get the benefits of the binaural beats!

  83. Laurel says...

    I started meditating daily a few months ago. I use the headspace app which moves through varying levels starting at 10 minutes a day. I’m currently at 20 min which feels about right. I am pretty anxious and have never dealt with stress well and it helps so much. I work full time and have two kids, so life is pretty hectic!

    My husband has been meditating for years. He’s very chill but often doesn’t fully acknowledge his own feelings. Meditation helps me recognise how I’m feeling without trying to control the feelings. It’s a good way to reset, especially after a particularly stressful day (like the one I had at work yesterday). Not sure how, but it gently clears away a lot of my obsessive thoughts so I can actually, you know, think.

  84. Mary says...

    When people tell me they are bad at it, I tell them it’s called a meditation *practice* for a reason. No matter how good or bad you are, it’s always practice.

  85. Kelly says...

    i am not great at meditation, but try to keep at it as a means to manage my anxiety. Oftentimes I just come up with a statement that i would say to a crying friend or child, but that i would not usually say to myself, and repeat it while focusing on deep breaths. Something like, you are enough and you’re doing a good job.

    i’ve done a lot of work on managing anxiety and i also find it helpful to have a little ‘discussion’ with my anxiety wherein i notice that i’m feeling anxious, remind myself that feelings are just chemicals in my body and they will change over time, and thank my anxiety for what it’s trying to tell me. I’ll talk to myself (in my head, hopefully) along these lines: I’m feeling anxious about money. Anxiety is caused by chemicals in my body and they are overly strong right now. But because i’ve been anxious about money in the past, i’ve been good at saving money, so my anxiety is serving a job. Thanks anxiety! I’m going to let go of this feeling right now because it’s stronger than is useful for me.

    also, for guided meditations, Spotify has tons and tons available! Maybe a review of meditations would be a fun future post!

  86. karen says...

    I’m going through a really difficult and sad time. My husband is such a great help, but my saving grace is meditation. I started in November with headspace and am so hooked now and crave this peace every day. It’s an oasis in this storm.

    • Jill says...

      I hate to hear that, Karen. Be kind to your tender heart.

  87. Kat says...

    I have always had terrible anxiety and the Headspace Anxiety pack changed my relationship with it completely. It is unbelievable how much better I can manage it. I recommend it to everyone I know!

  88. Alice says...

    I am definitely in!
    I was guided into meditation by a friend who teaches qi gong and tai chi years ago, but have never given it the space it deserves. I do achieve meditative states through yoga and running, but I would like to be able to sit and devote time to meditating and meditating alone.

    I love the idea of checking in and sharing progress too. I think meditation has a reputation as a solitary practice, but my dad runs a mindfulness group in his garden shed where they all meditate together and he loves it!

  89. The Headspace app has changed my husband’s life….He runs his own business and has ADD, so he is one of those people whose brain is *always* ON. It makes him a very successful and productive person but it’s also exhausting. Since meditating with the app every day, he has experienced (and I have noticed) a dramatic increase in his abilities to focus, relax, and be present without his brain constantly hijacking every moment.

  90. Claire says...

    Question – when does the challenge begin? is it starting tomorrow?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      anytime over the next month, whatever works for each person! xo

  91. Claire says...

    Yes, I have meditated for years, but have fallen off of it lately due to extra stress in my life. I found I was just too distracted, and during this period of time it’s been more beneficial to engage in things to get me out of my head. But I would like to participate in this challenge to get started again- thank you for suggesting it. It is fun and encouraging to think of others on this list doing it too. I will keep a journal of it too, so I can share see what the results bring, and am looking forward to reading how others do.

  92. Stefanie says...

    Me! Me! I’ve been waiting to try mediating for awhile. Here’s my sign to finally do it. Just trying to figure out a time that works best.

  93. Andrea says...

    I love meditation and often use the guided meditations from the podcast Meditation Oasis. If you have trouble sitting still, you can also do moving meditations while walking or stretching.

  94. Valerie says...

    Starting a regular meditation practice is easily one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life!! I am calmer, happier, and no longer anxious-in just 10 minutes a day! Very literally life changing and I recommend it to others all the time!

  95. Sarah Beth says...

    Like many people have commented, meditating hasn’t resonated with me. But towards the end of January, I started doing yoga every day using the Yoga Studio app. I usually do just 10-15 minutes focusing on stretching, flexibility, or back pain. I started on January 25, and I haven’t missed a day since! There’s a little calendar that puts a dot on each day you do your practice, and I am surprisingly motivated by the dots! I’m also motivated, of course, by how grounded I feel during those few minutes. I have a 2 year old, I feel somewhat burnt out at work, and we’re looking to buy our first house. So 10 or 15 minutes of calm movement is absolutely amazing. I even made a playlist on Spotify with soothing and inspiring songs– a little cheesy, but I rely on my yoga practice so much!

  96. Ceridwen says...

    I was just thinking about the challenges series and/the try something new and hoped you would bring it back. I just tried my first dance class as an adult. I was really quite nervous, but excited, and decided to swallow any embarrassment and jump in. My daughters who are 9 and 5 were very excited to be the ones encouraging me and I also felt the the cup of jo crew would cheer me on to give something a go. Thank you for inspiring us to enjoy these moments. Love the idea of meditation for ten minutes a day…my morning run feels like a clearing of my mind but it would be good to include some stillness.

  97. Kelcey Mead says...

    I feel like the real question here is what town did Louise grow up in and how quickly can I move there?

    • Louisa says...

      I’m guessing the hometown of Maharishi University! I know this because I also have a friend from Iowa who did meditation every day. She is easily one of the happiest, calmest people I know.

    • Meredith says...

      I don’t know Louise, but as an Iowa resident for 14+ years I’m pretty sure she’s talking about Fairfield. I’m now contemplating a road trip for challenge extra credit! ;)

  98. jillian says...

    The Headspace App is life changing! I tell everyone about it. It’s such an easy and effective way to start meditating. Thanks for brining this topic up on your blog!

    • I second the Headspace app! 10 minutes a day has made me significantly calmer.

  99. Angela says...

    http://www.1giantmind.org/ Has a free , 30 day, learn to meditate program. It’s fabulous and has me meditating most days now. You can choose to meditate for 10/15/20 mins. Love it and love what it brings to my life.

  100. Jeri says...

    I went through a devastating period in my life in 2015 (long story short, my husband left me two weeks after our daughter was born, having spent almost my entire pregnancy cheating on me).

    Meditating is one of the tools recommended to me as a means of coping and, let me tell you, it is LIFE CHANGING.

    I found it SO HARD though, until I heard this tip:
    Think of it like weight training, like doing a bicep curl. The “practice” is the same thing as the “work” required to pull the weight back up – every time you feel your brain drifting into some thought, notice and then bring yourself back to the breath. Just like every time you lower the weight, you need to work to pull it back up. The bringing yourself back to the breath is the work, and practicing that part over and over again makes the whole thing a lot easier.

    Life. Changing.

    • Clara says...

      that’s a great way to look at it, thank you Jeri!

  101. Ajay says...

    Excellent write-up.

  102. Nathalie says...

    I’ve let my meditation practice slip but starting NOW (not tomorrow) I’m going to get back into it. Thanks for the challenge, I’m in!

  103. p says...

    for many people, meditation is intimidating…. the thought of even just 10 minutes can be daunting and it may seem impossible to find the time.

    my feeling is that you can experience the same benefits by giving yourself 1-2 minutes several times a day. it could be as simple as grounding your feet while at your desk, closing your eyes for 2 minutes and observing your thoughts before a conference call or meeting. and then again while sitting in the parking lot in your car… take another 2 minutes there to tune into the breath before you start the car and go…. imagine taking 2 minutes in the morning before the baby wakes up, sitting on your bed a few pillows behind you. and a minute again before bed to recenter and release.

    the more we integrate these small moments of meditation into our routine, the easier it is to stop and connect to the most eternal part of ourselves at ANY moment of our day. as a yoga teacher, who still struggles with meditation, this simple act of segmenting my meditation into smaller chunks has made such a difference!

    • gfy says...

      The way I taught myself was to just challenge myself to sit still for 10 mins with a timer. Once I could allow myself to do that, I began the “notice your thoughts” technique, again for ten mins on a timer. I found the practice self motivating from there and before long, I craved my ten mins. The practice expanded from there. Apps are great and probably useful but anyone can do it using the technique above!

  104. Myra says...

    Hi Joanna & team, I love the idea of challenges! Would you consider challenges that focus on sustainability in some shape or form? I know I commented on this before but I am doing a 365 day challenge of not buying any new clothes. While that obviously isn’t for everyone (though so far it has sort of woke me up to the fact that it isn’t as hard as you’d maybe think, 70 days in) perhaps you would consider making it a monthly challenge? It could be this or not flying for a month, going vegan for a month, only eating local produce for a month, the list goes on :). I would love to hear your thoughts!

    • Myra says...

      I should add my challenge is to not buy any clothes, new or thrifted. I have allowed myself the exception of thrifting something in case I desperately need it but unless that is the case nothing is allowed (I will allowance myself to buy underwear for obvious reasons :) but only the kind that is produced fairly and sustainably).

    • Erika says...

      I’m doing the same thing, based on the Ann Patchett article I found here! I’m only buying essentials and it is NOT as hard as I thought it would be, plus it has freed up so much time and space in my mind. I love the idea of giving up other things for a shorter period (or periods) — Facebook during the week, Mark Bittman’s VB6, etc. Thanks for the motivation, Myra!

    • Myra says...

      I need to look up that article Erika! I missed that. I totally agree with you on how it creates free space in your mind ?

  105. Lauren says...

    This is great timing! My therapist recommended the Stop, Think, Breathe app (free!). I have only used it once but keep meaning to make it a daily thing!!

  106. Eva says...

    I was first introduced to Headspace a little over three years ago, at a really stressful, difficult time in my life. It took a while for me to get into a good habit, but now it’s such an anchor.

    What I love:
    – It’s completely agnostic, so no religious or even spiritual talk or language (nor awkward appropriation of a culture that’s not mine); rather it’s about being present, mindful, and improving self-awareness.
    – It emphasizes not “fixing” or “getting rid of” negative emotions and thoughts, but rather learning to understand them and relate to them in a healthier way. It’s an important reminder that negative emotions are a part of life, not something to avoid or resist.
    – I struggle a lot with anxiety, and it’s given me invaluable tools to use in daily life that have helped me so many times. When I’m feeling in a freefall, I know exactly where I can turn.

    Since the new year, I’ve been much better about meditating almost daily (and I definitely feel it when I’ve slacked). Cannot recommend it enough!

    • Elizabeth says...

      I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said! I adore Headspace and how it’s taught me to build my own practice.

  107. Molly says...

    As someone who struggled to find meditation approachable, Headspace has been wonderful. Guided meditation has been helpful for me as a beginner who hasn’t known exactly what to be doing while meditating. So much of the anxiety is removed when you’re given some gentle instruction.

  108. prema says...

    Love the idea and challenge. Good way to get me started. Thanks

  109. Emily says...

    I have anxiety and was often told I needed to meditate to resolve it. To me it was sitting in silence and humming and trying to empty your thoughts and “focus on the moment”. None of that resonated with me and I tried but it never really stuck as a useful practice. I don’t think I fully understood the depth of the purpose of meditation, but I’ve since learned, from my amazing therapist, that I am practicing how to detach from my thoughts and pull myself back to the present.

    She brought to my attention that the things that bring you the most joy are often things that engage you and keep you present in the moment of what you’re doing. And every time I felt anxious, it was related to my mind wandering to the future or past or something outside my present moment. So she encouraged me to meditate not to just sit in silence, but to re-engage with my present, even if I was not doing anything. Engage with how I felt in that moment, the things I saw, and detaching from the thoughts that inevitably want to run you too far forward to back to the past.

    This has helped me settle my anxiety immensely and I genuinely feel so much more joy in each moment now, and am able to more quickly catch my runaway thoughts before they spiral.

    • Misha says...

      Emily, this is a perfectly beautiful description! One of the best I’ve ever read on this topic. Thank you for sharing it!

    • Amanda says...

      So helpful! I finally understand how my meditation practice can help with my anxiety. Thanks, Emily!

  110. Karen says...

    another way to look at it – the point of meditation is not to clear your mind but to be aware of thoughts, acknowledge them and let them pass on by. so awareness not blank space. Even pema chodron, long time meditation and buddhist teacher says after 30 years, she’s still not great at it. but the practice of it is still beneficial. i am also anxious and i think we need it even more!

    • Myra says...

      Yes! This so much. What really helped me allowing thoughts to be there but letting them go again was this. I will think of myself as sitting on a bench and thoughts can come but I put them on a bus which passes by. It sounds silly but for me it really worked. ‘ I am having a though, that is ok, but now I will put it on the bus and the bus will drive away and I can just ‘be’ again’ .

  111. Lucy says...

    The Headspace app is magic–I highly recommend it for anyone who is a beginner to meditation. I have a hard time quieting my mind, but this app really works.

    • Myra says...

      headspace! that is where I got the bus example from, I stopped using it because of the cost involved.

  112. Jessica says...

    Hi! This is great! I participated in a clinical trial for meditation to help people with migraines, and it really helped! I learned two really important things there, as well as by practicing yoga regularly: (1) No one “can’t” meditation — it’s not a thing you either can or can’t do. It’s a practice. So on day 1, you try, and you’ll probably feel not that confident, but you keep practicing. (You would never decide you want to learn a dance routine, try to do the routine once, and then say that you can’t do it — you’d practice, practice, practice until you get it right.) (2) You’re always practicing — even the most experienced meditation practitioners (see the work practice in practitioner?) sometimes have days where they think “Where should I go for dinner?” It’s like anything else — you have good days and bad days. And when you’re actively meditating and you notice that you’ve drifted away, you tell yourself that you’ve drifted and now you’re back (without any judgment at all — it’s not good or bad, just a fact). This is a great challenge! Let’s erase the bad at meditating/can’t meditate discourse and just accept who we are, where we are, and practice! =)

  113. Dan says...

    Can I STRONGLY recommend Tara Brach meditations? She has a podcast that has talks as well as meditations, but there are a few on youtube as well.

    I have tried many different teachers and apps etc, but I find her body scans and smile meditations to be the MOST accessible of all.

    • NN says...

      Tara Brach is amazing!!

    • D says...

      One of her teachings that has really helped me: including everything in your heart. She says we are only as limited in our ability to be whole human beings as we are limited in what we include in our hearts. She says: Include Everything! That bad mood you are feeling, those horrible people doing horrible things, that self-critical chatter…hold it all. Resisting and pushing these things away cultivates stress, tension and denial. Including it all is the root of radical acceptance.

  114. Katie says...

    I’ve had a hard time sticking with it, but I’ve definitely seen a positive shift. It’s quite powerful. My friend told me about the Oprah and Deepak one which I liked a lot, they have a new free 21 day meditation starting March 19 –

    https://chopracentermeditation.com/experience

  115. Laura says...

    “It is tempting to think you are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at meditation. In truth, there is no such thing” sounds like something that someone who’s good at meditating would say.

  116. Sarah Tam says...

    I love this challenge! I actually just started meditating every day about a week and a half ago to try to create some more positive thought patterns. My boyfriend bought me a year-long subscription to Headspace a while back, and I couldn’t recommend it more for people who are wary of meditating or aren’t sure how to go about it. It’s not a big time commitment, and I’ve found that I’ve started looking forward to taking those ten minutes just to sit and breathe.

  117. Lara says...

    I credit meditation with most of the good things in my life. :) I started about 10 years ago, and I’ve gone through various periods of practicing regularly or not, but I always come back to it… whenever I’m struggling, I realize I haven’t meditated in a while. It’s been a balm for depression, anxiety, loss, and heartache, and it’s also helped me experience more intimacy with myself and with the people I love. It’s helped me be *in* experiences in a way I don’t know how to describe. (Sidetone, I also think meditating leads to better sex, but that’s a whole different post!)

    I think it’s really important to let go of being “good at it”–NO ONE meditates for the first time and thinks, “cool, that was easy.” [Do people lift weights for the first time and stop if they can’t lift the heaviest thing in the room? This is mental weight lifting.] The whole practice is noticing, wow, my mind is all over the place right now… and then noticing the same thing again two seconds later.

    I started by really committing to one minute each morning. Just ONE minute, observing my mind. But doing it consistently is the key. Once I did that, I started enjoying it so much that I began adding more time. Start small, don’t get ahead of yourself, don’t make excuses, commit to the practice, and it will be worth it–I really believe that. I also like to say, I don’t meditate to be good at meditating, I meditate to be good at life. :) Thanks for bringing up this important topic, Joanna!

    • Emily says...

      ‘mental weight lifting’ <3

    • Alice says...

      Can we follow up that whole different post, please? :)

  118. Exactly! I meditate every day (okay almost every day) for 10 minutes as soon as I wake up. I think of the goal as something akin to going from a character in the story to the author of the story. It’s so refreshing to realize that you are separate from your thoughts / emotions, and that they don’t have to rule you.

    Good luck everyone!

    Jo – I hope you will do a follow up on this to see how everyone is doing!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, we will do a follow-up for every challenge!

  119. Ruth says...

    I have been using the Calm app for a few months now. It’s great! It has daily meditation sessions with gently guided themes, plus tons of other pre-loaded (mostly guided, some not) sessions. I also always do a short one right before I turn out my light at night and it helps me slow down. The daily sessions are usually around 10 minutes and I love doing them in the middle of the day to recenter myself. After a few months of doing it, I really find it’s been helpful when I start having moments of anxiety, as I’m able to focus on my breath and try to clear my racing thoughts. I definitely recommend it or something like that to get started!

    • Katherine says...

      I highly recommend the Calm app as well! The guided meditations on anxiety have been so, so instrumental in helping me deal with post-partum anxiety. I’ve meditated on and off for many years, but somehow the guidance in these meditations gave me totally new insight about (one of) the purposes of mindfulness — it’s to see feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations as fleeting things that come and go. I can sit there and observe them without getting swept away by them. My anxiety is like a car going by – I can watch it go by but don’t need to get inside and go for a ride with it.

  120. Shevon says...

    I’ve just started meditating and it has been the best thing I could have done. Monday, I went to work feeling anxious, pounding headache, sore stomach, tense shoulders. I decided to meditate and I left that room feeling amazing. No headache, no tension. It was amazing! I’m in!

  121. Kate says...

    Thank you for suggesting this!
    I am taken back to a year ago when I was traveling the west coast of Australia with my girlfriend. We were in Broome on World Yoga Day and enjoyed a community wide meditation session at the local Ashram.
    After, we all sat on the floor and ate home cooked dahl whilst sharing stories and having a laugh.
    It was the perfect way to take a step aside and admire the people around you whilst admiring and respecting your inner self.
    Xx

  122. addie says...

    Perfect timing! I just tried the Headspace app for the first time last month and ended up loving my 3 minutes a day. I started small, with just 3 minutes, so it wouldn’t feel overwhelming. The funny thing about being too anxious to meditate is, we are the people who need it the most! My yoga teacher once taught me that the people who go around saying that they can’t do yoga because they’re not flexible, those are the people who should practice! You can become more flexible as you practice yoga, just as you become less anxious as you practice meditation.

    • Eva says...

      So funny, once I got up to the 15- and 20-minute meditations, going back to 10 minutes or less felt so SHORT! Just like real exercise, I guess ;)

  123. This is perfect timing! On Sunday I decided to start meditating every night before I go to bed. I’ve never been good at meditating, but for some reason this has worked for me: I stretch or do a bit of yoga before sitting down. Then, I light a candle and listen to a soundtrack of Tibetan singing bowls on Spotify while just breathing deeply. I’m a visual person so I find that staring at the flickering candle flame helps me focus. The Tibetan singing bowl soundtrack is 5 minutes long (so I don’t have to check the clock to see how long I’ve been meditating, but I can replay it if needed), and I love how the vibrations make me feel after!

  124. I’ve been meditating for 17 years and still consider myself a beginner. But Joanna I wanted to tell you something — there is no “goal” in meditating, so you haven’t done anything wrong if you end up thinking about where you should go for dinner or anything else. We’re not trying to “have no thoughts.” I think the work of meditation is the return part. When you notice that you’re off on a story or a fantasy, the noticing and bringing yourself back to your breath is like the work of doing reps at the gym — that “bringing yourself back” is like when the muscle fibers are breaking and you know they are re-forming stronger with every rep. I’ll look forward to seeing how everyone feels in a month or so, including me! Xoxo

    • Nina says...

      Thank you for this, Ilana! I’m a recent newcomer to meditation, and was under the impression I was supposed to work towards having no thoughts at all while focusing on my breath/sensation/whatever. But this helps so much, and encourages me to keep practicing!

    • jill c. says...

      oh I love this – thank you! this is already making me feel better for all of those moments that I’m not “present” while meditating.

    • Alice says...

      That’s really helpful, thank you!

  125. I usually meditate after work (literally saves my family from my crankiness and stress I got at work), but I definitely want to try the morning as well!

  126. McNeill says...

    The 10% Happier Podcast (and app, and book) by Dan Harris is great for skeptics, or people for whom meditation seems too religious or woo-woo.

    But my absolute favorite deeper dive into mindfulness is Tara Brach’s podcast. I mostly listen to her longer talks (50-60 min) on various mindfulness/Buddhist principles, which I find to be a great way to start a morning or intercept a bad mood that’s coming on. Those tend to include short reflections/meditations interspersed, which I really like.

  127. Alex says...

    One of the most helpful things I learned was the difference between “mindfulness” and “meditation.” I’m also anxious so I constantly flit back and forth between thoughts, but when I’m being mindful, I just gently remind myself to come back to my body and focus on my breath. Meditation is this different realm that I’ve only gotten to once! When I changed my goal from “don’t think for 10 minutes” to “this is MY 10 minutes to breathe and be calm” it really helped me keep it up. Also my therapist just reminded me that it’s the practice of doing it frequently and not the length of meditation – just 3 minutes daily is more beneficial than 20 minutes once or twice a week!

  128. Lindsay says...

    I’ve tried but i usually go, oh screw it I’ll go for a run and sweat it out. I have trouble sitting there “not doing anything”, while i find yoga to be meditative and also an act of movement that is more satisfying to me.

    • Louisa says...

      Ditto!

    • Sabrina Izaguirre says...

      Same here!

    • Andrea says...

      I’d say movement totally counts as meditation!

  129. Danielle says...

    Okay I’m going to try this on my 15 minute train journey home, but how do you let go of the bad thoughts? For me my worries just circle back around and around. I think it’s harder because my husband doesn’t worry about anything at all. Like ever. I feel like if I let go and don’t focus on where we go for dinner or who fed the cat or did we remember to send a birthday card to his sister, then no one will remember!

    • jillian says...

      Sounds like you’d really benefit from meditation. Try the head space app for at least 10 sessions before you judge if it’s “working” or not. It’s helped me tremendously with exactly what you are dealing with! Good luck!

    • Andrea says...

      Think of each thought as a leaf floating on a river (or some other metaphor). Notice it, but let it go by you without picking it up. The same thought/leaf might keep coming back around, but that’s ok, just more practice for noticing and letting go. Also might help to do a “brain dump” and write down all your to-dos and thoughts running in your head right before you meditate so you know they’re there when you’re ready to turn your attention back to them.

  130. Jill says...

    Insight Timer is a free app (Calm is not) and there are some many lovely meditations on there from instructors around the world. I highly recommend it

  131. jill c. says...

    I’m in! I try to meditate a few times a week and I use the same meditation by Elena Brower (it is a 20 minute free download that I got almost 2 years ago!). Anyway, I find that I meditate at night 99% of the time b/c in the morning it’s just too chaotic with the kids getting ready for school, needing breakfast etc…. I’ll play the meditation on speaker during my kid’s bedtime so they can hear it too (although I’m not in the same room usually) and I swear it helps them fall asleep (especially my son who is a night owl and is still not a good sleeper at 6 years old).

  132. p says...

    Another great free web resource is the UCLA mindfulness website – they have a number of different guided meditations (sleep, body scan, loving kindness) most under 10 minutes. http://marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditations

    • As an anxious, mind wanderer, I love “body scan” meditations because it forces me to focus my mind on specific parts of my body. As a result, I feel like I “let go” more easily and get more out of the meditations. I’ve also had the loveliest experience with “loving kindness” meditations. The first time I did one was during a Wanderlust event and the instructor had us choose three different people to send loving kindness to: one person we’re very close with and/or love very much, one person that’s more of an acquaintance or even a stranger, and one person we have a struggled relationship with. By the end, I was in tears. What a wonderful way to practice gratitude as well!

  133. Denise says...

    Yes to meditation. I’ve been doing the quarterly “21 Day Meditation Experience” with Oprah & Deepok Chopra. It’s free and comes around 4x a year. But I do admit I lose the habit quickly after the session ends so finding a practice that is 10 minutes a day sounds great.

  134. Princess hajjar says...

    I am so in. This Is possibly the 893rd post/therapist/article/friend/relative/colleague/child to tell me I should maybe try meditating. The universe is obviously trying to tell me something.

  135. I began seriously trying to meditate 10 minutes every morning with Headspace (so, so recommend it), and it’s been a game-changer. Now,
    3 months later, it’s morphed into something even bigger: I get up an hour earlier by *choice* (I DO NOT EVEN KNOW MYSELF) to drink a cup of coffee, meditate, take some time to journal, pray, and plan my day, and by the time life starts as a work-from-home full-time mom, I’m ready for it. My kids even said to me the other morning how much happier I am now (“MOM. You’ve got so much ENERGY.”). If you knew me in real life, none of this would make sense–but meditation was what started me on the road to actually going to bed at night looking forward to waking the next morning. To those trying it out, give it the solid month before you decide if it’s right for you–and then totally report back because I’m so curious to see who else has been sucked in, too.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow!!! that is the most ringing endorsement, leah. now i’m SO curious and excited to try this.

  136. Carrie says...

    I’m totally in! I love meditating and want to do it on a daily basis. Here are some tips I learned at yoga teacher training school, if anyone is interested!
    1. Light a candle and keep it at eye level in front of you. I usually start with my eyes closed and then gradually open them, and having a visual focal point keeps my mind from wandering. You could use a small plant or a pretty and simple object too. But, keep the table it sits on otherwise uncluttered.
    2. When you start, try chanting ‘om’ three times. The vibrations are really grounding and also give the mind something to focus on. I get self conscious doing it when my boyfriend is home, any my neighbors must think I’m crazy, but whatever, it works for me.
    3. If sitting down to meditate is challenging for you, try one of the many other ways to meditate! One way is to walk around in your yard barefoot very slowly, and focus on the connection between the soles of my feet and the earth. Your neighbors will for sure think you’re crazy but that’s okay. Singing and dancing meditation are also both really fun. Even a ten minute jog or bike ride spent focusing on your breath and the sounds around you is a good form of meditation.

    • Carrie says...

      One more suggestion – I once asked a meditation instructor what the meditation should feel like. She said to imagine the feeling you have when you’re rushing around and finally get to your destination. It’s that sigh of relief and “ah, I’m here” feeling that you are trying to capture.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      these are amazing tips, THANK YOU!

  137. Chrissy says...

    Insight timer is a good app too

  138. I am in! I learned how to meditate about 7 years ago now and have practiced on and off since then. I’ve used headspace (paid) and insight timer (free!) and both are so helpful. I love using guided meditations. I have to say: mindfulness is one of my best friends, really!!!!! Or tools. But really: a friend!

  139. Anna Maria says...

    I started meditating on/off after my first daughter was born – I would meditate mostly during my commute and it helped so much with anxiety and just the general feeling of being totally overwhelmed as a new Mom headed back to work. Calm is a great app, and I like headspace, too. I love the idea of setting aside time at home/in the morning, but with two kids I find it almost impossible to meditate at home. And so, I do it while commuting…probably not the “best” place, but better something than nothing, right?

  140. Lisa says...

    YES! Love this encouragement. I use the Headspace app often – even with my 8 year old son before bed. We love it. AND, little known fact, you can purchase the yearly subscription to Headspace for 1/2 off on Groupon when they run a promotion. I find I am notably more calm and centered after just 10 minutes of meditation. I also loved the book 10% Happier – about news anchor Dan Harris’ meditation journey.

  141. Nora Romanoff says...

    I love Headspace. Great meditations for kids, too!

  142. Misha says...

    I just started using the Breethe app & have been shocked at how easy (and fun!) it’s made doing this for me. I’ve only been doing it for a week but I am truly noticing differences already. (Especially in emotion regulating & sleep – two things that are a real struggle for me.) I’m in for the challenge with you, I might not do daily but definitely most days! ?

  143. Marisa says...

    I downloaded “Headspace” last month and really want to get into this habit. 10 minutes a day is SO worth a happier and more positive state of mind to me! Thanks for the extra push :)

  144. I use the Headspace App first thing in the morning. My favorite 10 minutes of the day.

    • Several people have recommended 10% Happier – it’s a terrific book! I’m also really enjoying the follow-up – Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics – http://amzn.to/2oU1Cyu

  145. Brittany K says...

    The “Calm” app is a great resource, especially when starting out! Their guided meditations are so helpful for beginners. Good luck!

    • Tiffany D Frias says...

      I couldn’t handle the voice in the calm app. I have really enjoyed the Headspace app though!

    • YES. This charge-from-checking-boxes lady LOVES how they keep track of my sessions for me, and they give me high fives for being on a “streak.” Probably also not the point of meditation, but I figure I’ll do what it takes to help the habit take hold!