A few years ago, serendipity led to having a former student, Chase, visit my classroom to give a talk and a demo on meditation. You can read about that wonderful visit, including unfiltered student feedback, by clicking here.
Ever since then, I’ve wanted to get in the habit of meditating, but it never seemed to stick. And that was despite Chase coming back to my classes for the next three years. Sad to say, those annual visits from Chase were the only time I meditated all year.
I know about all the amazing benefits that meditation offers, but for some reason, I wasn’t able to make it a priority. Chase would remind of the saying: “If you don’t have time to meditate for an hour a day, then you should meditate for two hours.”
I’ve even downloaded the Calm and Headspace apps to my phone, but other than listening to a brief intro, I never really used the apps after the initial download.
But somehow, about two weeks ago (perhaps is serendipity at work again), I came across a post Bill Gates had written a couple of years ago about meditation on his blog site, GatesNotes. The title of the post was: Why I’m into meditation. Here’s an excerpt:
(in my 20s) I thought of meditation as a woo-woo thing tied somehow to reincarnation, and I didn’t buy into it.
Lately, though, I’ve gained a much better understanding of meditation. I’m certainly not an expert, but I now meditate two or three times a week, for about 10 minutes each time. Melinda meditates too. Sometimes we sit to meditate together. (We use comfortable chairs; there’s no way I could do the lotus position.)
I now see that meditation is simply exercise for the mind, similar to the way we exercise our muscles when we play sports. For me, it has nothing to do with faith or mysticism. It’s about taking a few minutes out of my day, learning how to pay attention to the thoughts in my head, and gaining a little bit of distance from them.
He then goes on to note how it was Andy Puddicombe, the 46-year-old co-founder and voice of the popular Headspace app, who turned me from skeptic to believer. Prior to finding Headspace, I had read several books about meditation, all of which intimidated me. They made me think that the investment in terms of time and energy was just too high. Headspace made the barrier to entry low enough for me. It’s just 10 minutes a day of listening to Andy’s soothing British accent and trying to stay with him.
I thought to myself, OK. If Bill Gates can find 10 minutes a day to meditate, I’m sure I can as well. And if he uses Headspace, then that’s good enough for me.
So I logged into the app and began taking the introductory course, which consists of ten brief sessions (three-four minutes) of listening to Andy and learning to relax, breathe, and clear your mind. My wife and son have been doing the lessons with me every night as well.
We just finished the introductory course tonight, and I think it was just enough to get me interested to continue with a more formal program that Headspace offers.
So it only took four and a half years, and the advice of Chase, Bill, and Andy, and an app but I think I am ready to make meditation a part of my life. Special thanks to Chase for planting the seed and sticking by your most reluctant student…
*image from Headspace