I do occasionally experience moments of stillness in meditation. But, in my experience, it’s a mistake to strive to achieve a certain experience. Often the striving prevents you from getting wherever you’re hoping to go. The goal in meditation is not to reach some special state; it’s to see whatever is happening in your mind clearly. Why is this important? Because when you see your thoughts and feelings clearly, they have less power to yank you around.
Dan Harris, Interview with Ryan Holiday
I had never heard of Dan Harris before yesterday when I watched an interview with him on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. I was amazed at how attentive and present he was with Trevor. Most guests lean back, take in the conversation, glance around the studio while talking, and generally relax. Dan was leaning forward most of the time, eyes almost always on Trevor. He certainly held my attention the whole time.
Dan is a TV anchor for Good Morning America. He was describing a panic attack he had on the air over ten years ago and how that set him down the path of mindfulness and meditation. It was a great story to listen to and I liked hearing him describe meditation in a down to earth way.
Shortly after I watched the interview, I saw the interview with Ryan Holiday sitting in my inbox. I had to read it right away. Well worth reading through.
The good news is that I usually recommend that five to ten minutes a day is a great way to get started. The better news is that if five to ten minutes sounds like too much, one minute counts.
Here’s how to do it:
• Find a reasonably quiet place (it doesn’t have to be pristine – and if it’s a little noisy, just wear headphones)
• Set the alarm on your phone for one minute
• Sit comfortably with your back reasonably straight (so as to prevent an unintentional nap – although, to be honest, worse things could happen)
• Bring your full attention to the feeling of your breath coming in and going out. Pick a spot where’s it’s most prominent: your nose, your chest, your belly, wherever…
• Whenever you get distracted – which you will, a million times – just gently start over