Why practice 30 minutes per day? Why is the course six weeks long?
We developed this course so more people could experience the transformative benefits of meditation practice. While it is certainly possible to get benefits from doing 5 or 15 minutes of practice some days, or using meditation as a tool to help cope in stressful situations, we want to help you change your baseline of focus, observation, and balance.
This means making meditation something you do consistently and for enough time each day that each practice session is meaningful. We’ve seen many times that people who meditate consistently for 30 minutes per day get long-lasting benefits from the practice. It becomes part of their life. Practice becomes something they look forward to doing and it keeps providing new and interesting insights into the way the mind works.
Think of 30 minutes as a tipping point that will take you into a whole new landscape of possibility. The course takes six weeks because it is about establishing a strong, consistent practice. Six weeks is a commitment, but it gives you enough time to start with small amounts of daily practice, and consistently build from there. By the end of the six weeks the goal is to have the practice feel like a positive habit that you will be doing automatically.
Can I do this?
Yes you can! Meditation is a systematic way of training the mind. Anyone can meditate with time and clear instructions. It’s a skill that is developed like any other skill, there is no magic or special rituals involved. You could think about meditation like learning a musical instrument. Nobody can play a guitar perfectly when they first pick it up. When you first start learning to play guitar, you won’t be able to make very much sound and you probably won’t be able to create the music that you hear in your head. But with instruction and practice, you’ll get the hang of playing notes, then chords, then being able to improvise. Eventually you’ll be able to play without even really thinking about it. The same goes for meditation. By getting some instruction, starting small, and practicing, you’ll develop these skills. Eventually it will become effortless, enjoyable, and enthralling to sit down and practice. Like any skill, it all comes down to practice. Learn more about that here.
You use your mind in everything you do. Therefore training the mind is a great foundation for any other skill or activity that you want to partake in. You can’t say the same thing about learning to play the guitar : )
I already use meditation apps, is this different?
Yes! There is a vast difference between using apps and understanding the fundamentals so you can guide yourself. Meditation apps and guided meditations can be incredibly helpful and useful tools. They can help you get started and shift out of typical thinking patterns. However, many people use meditation apps and don’t experience long-lasting benefits. Their baseline level of mindfulness doesn’t seem to change that much. That’s why we created this course.
Learning to guide yourself and establishing a consistent meditation practice will greatly change the impact meditation has on your life. Developing focus, observation, and balance will allow you to explore more and go deeper. It leads to long-lasting benefits and transformation.
Why focus, observation, and balance?
There are many different styles and techniques of meditation. We focus primarily on developing three skills: focus, observation, and balance. Why? These are all foundational skills that have direct and tangible benefits that can be experienced through practice. Through training these three skills, you train the mind. You use your mind everything you do, so training the mind can positively benefit everything you do. When these skills are developed together it can change the baseline quality of your attention and improve your life. To learn more about why focused attention is important, check out this resource.
Can meditation have negative effects? Will meditating make me go crazy?
Meditation is great for the vast majority of people. There is however a small number of people who can be negatively affected. You could think of this like taking a painkiller, such as Nurofen or Aspirin. It’s a common occurrence for people to take painkillers. On the side of the box there is a warning saying that it can cause various different side effects. There is a very low chance of these occurring. It's hard to know if you should avoid taking Nurofen ahead of time. Perhaps if you have family members who have been negatively affected you might avoid it. But if you do experience some side effects then you can get help.
With meditation, it's hard to say who should or shouldn't be going into their own minds. If you have severe recent trauma or severe mental illness then it is best to either avoid intensive meditation or proceed with supervision. Outside of this the chances of meditation causing strong difficulty are low and if difficulty arises then you can get help. As your practice develops you'll become more aware of your thoughts and emotions, which can be temporarily unpleasant. The possibility for transformation might require working through some discomfort and unpleasantness. Yes, this journey requires courage and strength, but you do not need to walk the path alone. There are many great resources, supports, and communities that you can access. If you try meditation and it is causing you trouble then you should talk to a meditation teacher and/or a mental health professional. We provide a list of meditation teachers that are currently available to see students, as well as links to online communities.