Facing Danger, Finding Wisdom (and safety)

Thank you, Mr. Davis. Your courage and humility have helped bring enlightenment to my experience. I will follow your lead and seek to learn from and understand the things that confuse me or even seem to threaten my very existence. Your example has the power to transform all of our lives and the world we live in.

What would happen if tomorrow morning you woke up to find yourself having zero judgments — none whatsoever — about you, the universe, or anything in it (including other living beings)?

What modern or ancient dangers lurk for someone who has no awareness of the need to avoid them? What if you had no reason to be mindful with things as benign-looking as crossing the street or getting too close to a rattlesnake, diving into a deep and expansive body of water, or drinking a toxic substance like Drano from a bottle? Which judgments bring us more safety or benefit from heeding them rather than being ignorant to them? Which judgments, if absent, would result in almost certain pain, suffering, or death?

In that same vein, which judgments, if shed, would reveal entirely wonderful or stunning realizations or experiences? Which judgments keep us back from really potent opportunities to connect with ourselves and others, or imprison us, keeping us from gaining life experiences which almost universally benefit those who embrace them? What new beauties would we find, which experiences might we finally enjoy, what people or groups would brighten our lives?

We are all looking for those things which provide safety from pain or, alternatively, opportunities for pleasure. Keeping track of this data takes up a healthy portion of our memory. But have you ever wondered what happens if we re-examine the objects in that virtual rolodex of “dos” and “don’ts”? Daryl Davis did just that, and may be able to shed some light on what is possible when we deeply challenge existing cultural and personal belief or certainty.

You see, Daryl decided to question the long-held judgments made by people inside or outside of his community. He even challenged the answers conjured up by his own mind about his place in the world around him, and why it often feels like a place of unwelcomeness for him. Rather than accept the answers, or even to imagine up personal answers for himself, he decided to revisit the question humans have long claimed certainty around: “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?”

Many ask this question, and most often, the answers seem to be rooted in ethnocentric thinking: I hate you because you’re inferior; I mistreat you because you’re ignorant; I attack you because you’re evil; I avoid you because you’re dangerous; I criticize you because you’re wrong. But really, these answers can all trace their root back to one, simple expression: I am afraid of you because you’re not familiar — because you’re not enough like me. Few humans, it seems, stop to question the answers they’re given. His question was unique, perhaps only because it was asked more out of sincerity rather than sarcasm. I get the strong sense that Daryl wasn’t merely searching for a rhetorical question to accompany a pre-determined answer, as is so often the case.

I admire Daryl’s courage and humility in refusing to assume that he knew what motivated someone he knew little or nothing about. Rather than returning the favor of judgment and ignorance, he entered into a potentially treacherous relationship with humility and grace. Above all, he allowed himself to trust and nurture his deeper curiosity and wonder, and out of that came this incredible result of two willing men discovering their own humanity where they least expected it.

What would happen if we all laid down our judgment — shed outside opinion — long enough to at least understand, and know “the truth” about something foreign for ourselves? If Daryl’s experience is any indication, then the answer is more vibrant and enlightening than most of us might believe.

Thank you Daryl. I have something better to aim for in my own character because of you.

The quiet mind: A study on why overselling meditation hurts everyone

Anyone familiar with conversations about meditation (at least in a western society like the United States) will know how common it is for the topic of “a quiet mind” or “a still mind” to come up. This is so prevalent in the discussion about meditation, in fact, that it has emerged as one of the primary objections to or criticisms of meditation by those who have reached for and failed to grasp such prized benefits which are often touted as a surefire reward of the practices.

And this is unfortunate, because for all the benefits that meditation or mindfulness might provide, a growing group of people are deeply inclined to dismiss or even refuse to engage in meditative practice because they have been sold strong or even outlandish misrepresentations of the practice. These claims are often made for no other reason than simply to win this potential meditator as an adherent to regular practice.

This is a primary shortcoming of ethnocentricity, wherein a tribe attempts to convert non-practitioners to the tribe’s traditions, usually by attempting to oversell the group’s benefits and refute diverse (alternate) practices or perspectives at almost any cost. Having someone pick up meditation if it doesn’t serve them is bad for them, but it’s bad for those who derive genuine objective value from the practice. This fact doesn’t go away if the reason for their initially negative experience is due to judgment, misconception, resistance, or some other personal influence. This choice to present hyperbolic claims as though they are easy pickings for newcomers imposes too high of a “minimum expectation” for achievement in the group’s practices or values, and essentially cuts too many people off from the more subtle (but perhaps more attainable) benefits of the practice. With high distress levels worldwide, overlooking the simple, accessible benefits of novice practice is a foolish act of “jumping ahead”.

All this is to say, I think the idea of a quiet mind might be a misdirect, overstatement, or even outlandish promise of meditation’s benefits in the first place. I imagine this promise is driven as much from a desperate attempt to validate meditation in some big way as it is to get someone to “just try it out” so they can experience the very real, very beneficial, very needed (albeit less lavish) benefits. I’m not claiming a mind can’t be quieted, or that a soul can’t be stilled in a peaceful and healthy way. But these are the byproduct, not the goal. They’re the fruit, not the work. And many seasoned practitioners would argue that some nirvanic sense of bliss isn’t even the most abundant or valuable benefit meditation has to offer.

The truth is, most humans today are stressed, anxious, or depressed (if not a combination of all three). A subset of humans are at their breaking point. If the threshold for crossing that dangerous threshold is, let’s imagine, 50.1% presence of some combo of anxiety/depression/stress in their regular daily experience, then there are enough people at 48%, 49%, or even 50% who are moments away from having a potentially tragic experience. If anyone needs a miracle, it’s these people. But offering an empty promise doesn’t help — it risks immense damage. Feeding them “white lie false hopes just so they’ll try something that could help them out eventually is not only irresponsible, it’s unkind. I recognize the impulse for making the invitation or promise in the first place likely comes from an entirely loving, kind, or concerned place. This is what makes it an especially unfortunate engagement. If our aim is to help, it is our responsibility to inform ourselves about what helps, rather than help in ways that feel intuitive or rewarding even while they harm.

But more importantly, someone at or near their breaking point doesn’t need grand promises or lofty goals. They, in fact, likely stand to benefit much more from a regular, recurring conversation about ways they can make small and steady improvements to their situation rather than one big “whammy” solution. Put another way, if we stick with the facts, let them know what meditation is, how to get started, and draw their attention to the smaller, more immediately available, but more evidence-based benefits proven to come out of consistent practice, we stand a chance of giving them a rope they can grab onto rather than a pole they can’t even get their arms around, so to speak.

We all want to climb out of our own proverbial holes, and we all want to know there’s help there, if and when we get in a pickle — in that order. Leading someone desperate, who is feeling debilitating anxiety, to believe that they can eliminate their anxiety almost completely with a few simple meditations (or a lifetime of it) is not backed by evidence, nor is it kind.

Alternatively, letting someone who is struggling with anxiety know that meditation has been shown to reduce stress hormones, positively effect blood pressure, improve outlook, and potentially help sleep patterns — being careful to communicate that these improvements usually begin small and compound over time — gives them a reasonable expectation that if they invest in healthier patterns, they may find a small amount of relief from the practice immediately, with further relief increasing over time. It may only move them from a 49% stress load to a 47% stress load in the short term, but that small walk back from the edge of catastrophe could make all the difference for their long-term pathway to wellness.

Do you expect to be “cured” by meditation? That, my friend, does not seem to be the point of meditation. The major primary benefit I’ve found from meditation is the opportunity to ask if I’m broken in the first place.

“A quiet mind” is an idea rooted in the claim that the mind is broken. Perhaps it simply has never felt heard. Will you accept the invitation to change that dynamic with yourself, for yourself?

Sit with yourself in meditation today, and see if your mind doesn’t become easier to sit with, or quieter from a deeper sense of satisfaction from finally being listened to and heard.

The thing about Psychopaths

Humans are organizers. There’s evidence that our species has been doing it for as long as we have a recorded history. We may have begun this process by keeping nuts and berries in nooks and crannies, eventually engineering totes and pots for our tools and trinkets — but over hundreds of thousands of years it has evolved into a full-fledged never-ending process of sorting, labeling, judging, and acting on these judgments about everything. We’re so adept at this process that we often do it without being aware of it. It’s as disconnected from our daily consciousness as breathing. And just as we can gain significant benefits by paying attention to our breath (even for a few moments daily), there are profound opportunities for those who develop a more deliberate awareness of their own personal practice of judging.

You know that strange sensation that can sometimes arise when we start thinking about our own breathing (strange, because we rarely pay any attention to it)? That same infrequency of attention accompanies most of the judgments we make. We judge almost non-stop, but rarely do we pay attention when it’s happened or consider it’s impact. We judge the thing occupying our attention in this moment, and promptly forget about it when another thing pushes it aside. But the judgment remains, as does the praise or condemnation that will likely accompany any future interaction with that thing. In a phrase,

Labels are hard to shake.

It would be difficult to argue that the act of judgment and categorization are purposeless or lacking any benefit to our species. Critical thinking has empowered us to better explore and subsequently make sense of ourselves and the universe around us. While the vast majority of daily judgments are woefully misinformed and lead to potentially problematic ends, judgment isn’t the problem, per se. And in the same way that it feels strange noticing our own breath, becoming mindful of the process may feel awkward at first, especially if this is a new idea to you.

That’s why I like this video. It reveals, with surgical precision, the tsunami of nuance that can easily arise when we stop to examine the labels we apply — labels which we rarely have any logical reason for gratuitously applying to almost everything in our lives.

This video has been a helpful catalyst for raising crucial questions in my own day-to-day experience. Here are a few examples of those questions:

  • What/who do I judge?
  • What process do I employ when I judge?
  • What influences (or who’s perceived authority) do I allow to persuade my judgment?
  • Is this pattern of judgment something I’ve chosen, or did I simply inherit it from the culture/society around me?
  • Is the thing I am judging good, or do I just choose to label it as good?
  • Is this thing bad, or am I choosing to ignore/undervalue the benefit that surely exists if I simply judge it differently?
  • Am I operating in “black and white” thinking, or have I made space to consider more diverse perspectives than my own?
  • Does anyone get the opposite effect from this idea/place/person/thing than I do? If so, is it due more to personal subjectivity or objective reality?

Check out the video above, and see if practicing mindfulness while re-assessing the judgments you’ve made might provide value to you. Will developing a new process to mindfully judging future experiences in your life simplify and improve your daily life?

What do you think? Can you think back on any time in your own life when you’ve re-assessed old judgments and come up with more informed or diverse perspectives? Can you identify any challenges you feel this process might pose?

It’s Indie Support Week!

It’s April here in America, and we’re jumping aboard Indie Support Week, the brain child of John Sundell (original tweet found here). Great idea, John! These apps are created by indie developers like us, and by downloading, sharing, rating, or paying for additional features in their apps, you are helping to support development of great apps, games, and tools. Join us as we celebrate a few from the list. Be sure to catch our special bonus at the end of this post for the first few readers who act fast.

To kick it off, I’d like to talk about my favorite pick so far:

SECRET SIGNS

Secret signs is a fun little gem that is both simple and beautiful. It was picked as Apple’s Game of the Day, and I’m not surprised. If you’re looking for a chance to practice mindful attentiveness with a soothing game experience, look no further.

Brain puzzlers are some of my very favorites (Limbo, Lifeline, Blackbar, Letterpress are some of my favorites. Hey, look! I love apps that start with “L” apparently!). This game easily belongs among those others, and has provided a welcome repose from endless coronavirus news updates. Best of all, each puzzle provides a little factoid once solved, a decadent butter-cream frosting on an already delightful cake.

Download the app from the iOS App Store as well as the Google Play Store. It includes 6 free puzzles, and you can access 18 more puzzles via in-app purchase for $1.99. Well done, Wouter!

MINDFUL AFFIRMATIONS

Joan Cardona, from Barcelona (say that out loud, it’s really fun!) created this nifty little app that fills your emotional cup with teaspoon-sized servings of positivity.

Before you decide this sounds too woo-woo or frou-frou for you, listen up. I, too, was dubious about the app while installing and signing up. After walking through the short setup process, I decided to give Steps Towards Daily Happiness a shot (in the Everyday Joy section). Despite my initial skepticism, I was feeling a marked shift in my internal weather patterns by the 4th affirmation. In this one there were a total of 19 short one-sentence affirmations which loop, and I can only see these helping most folks’ psychological state. The female voice sported a likable (and mild) European accent. The background music added a nice touch, tying the short individual affirmations together.

This app takes a simple idea and does it right. Download it and give it a try. If you decide you want the full library, you can do so for a small monthly or annual subscription rate. Mindful Affirmations is available for free from the iOS App Store.

SIMPLE RECIPES

Simple Recipes is a Mac, iOS, and tvOS app which is currently in beta. It allows you to add recipes, organize ingredient and shopping lists, find meal ideas, and create meal plans right on your devices.

The app looks clean and well-designed, and easy to use — but don’t let the ease and good design fool you. For those who want to geek out a bit, you can use Markup to spruce up your recipes with links, images, and formatting to keep it all clean and readable. If that all sounds too complex for you, stick with simple formatting and let the app organize things for you. I’m a big believer in nutritious home-cooked meals. With the way things have been the last few months, this has become a higher priority than ever. Having a way to organize meals as well as shopping lists for reduced trips outside the house has become a key piece of our “hunker down” plan.

This app looks like a tool that will help that process run even more smoothly. Simple Recipes is currently in beta, and you can request beta access on their website: simplerecipes.com.

CONGRATS, YOU MADE IT! HAVE A PRIZE!

While we think all three apps listed here are worth your attention, there’s one that delighted us with its simple, fun (affordable!) gameplay. You guessed it, Secret Signs is our top pick today. To help support Wouter Walmink (the creator of Secret Signs), we’ve decided to give away 50 in-app purchases of the Secret Signs app. Since Apple hasn’t yet enabled gifting of In-App purchases, here’s how it will work:

1. Download Secret Signs from the iOS App Store or from the Google Play Store.
2. Launch the game. Once you’re on the riddle screen, mash the blue “Unlock all riddles” button.
3. When the charge hits your account, follow the instructions to find the purchases in your Apple App Store or Google Play Store purchase history.
4. Take a screenshot of both the app download and in-app purchase made after April 2, 2020 (feel free to hide/erase any non-related info or purchases).
5. Forward the screenshot(s) to hey@skytripping.com, and we will issue a digital Cash payment in the US, or a Paypal payment for international readers. (Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you can receive Cash or Paypal payments).
6. That’s it. We will send reimbursement to the first 50 requests we get. Be sure to support Wouter by giving Secret Signs a positive rating/review in the App Store once you download it.

Good luck and stay safe out there! Remember your social distancing and stay home as much as possible!

SKY TRIPPING: NOW ON IPAD

We’re excited to announce that our latest version of Sky Tripping is available in the Apple App Store for immediate download.  This update brings all of our glorious aerial views to the iPad, and also makes our app fully compatible with both the 9.7″ iPad and 12″ iPad Pro.  Set your iPad on a stand and let yourself relax to the beautiful oceans, vibrant desert, winter snow, or any of the other views available in the app!

Best of all, the app is now universal, so you can download it on all of your devices and enjoy stunning views of Earth wherever your breaks happen throughout your day. Let Sky Tripping on the new Apple TV help you unwind, relax, and meditate at home; or enjoy the sights and sounds of nature on the go with your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.

We’ve also added support for iOS 8 and above, and fixed a few minor bugs. Happy Tripping!

NO, BUT SERIOUSLY — I DON’T HAVE TIME TO MEDITATE!

Do you ever find yourself wishing you had more time in your day?  Are there habits you want to make room for — healthy things like reading more books, engaging in exercise, taking up a hobby, or practicing regular meditation — but feel there isn’t enough time to spare?  Welcome to the club; you’re not alone. In fact, half of all Americans today self-identify as feeling like they have too little time in their day.  (At the risk of being a nuisance, I’ll remind you that this means the other half of Americans feel they have time aplenty).

So what separates these two groups: those who feel they have the time they need and those who don’t? Is one half of society really more pushed for time than the other half, or is the old maxim that says, “We all have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce” true?

And anyway, is there anything you can actually do if you are constantly fighting the clock?

There’s a fairly simple answer to that question, and probably thousands more covering how you can go about beating your schedule into submission. But today we’re going to explore just one sure-fire solution that anyone can use (but relatively few attempt), and as a bonus we’ll explore the reasons why you’re not already using this simple but powerful tool on a daily basis.

At this point you may be asking, “What’s this magic bullet, this golden goose that has the power to transform my life day in and day out?”  The answer is meditation. That’s right: it’s free, it’s simple, and it’s instantly gratifying. Best of all, you can experience the benefits by doing a simple meditation right this minute.

Really.

OUR FIRST 37-SECOND MEDITATION STARTS NOW

Rather than trying to sell you on the incredible benefits of meditation, I would prefer instead to let you experience them for yourself. Right now. Does this scare you? That’s ok! Uncertainty (or even anxiety) is a very common reaction when someone first considers actually exploring meditation. We’ll get into some of the reasons for this common but irrational reaction, but first let’s spend a moment so we can see for ourselves why meditation is a much-needed addition to our day.

37-SECOND MEDITATION:  (five measured breaths in and out)

1. Sit in an upright position, stretch and then relax your back and neck, rest your arms and legs (no need to move anywhere, simply stretch and then get into a comfortable but alert position)

2. Exhale, then take a deep, calm breath at an unhurried rate.

3. Once you have filled yourself with breath, calmly exhale and feel the breath leave your body, and allow yourself (mentally and physically) to let it go.

4. Count each inhaled breath, and repeat this process until you have five full inhale/exhale cycles (these will probably take 10-15 seconds each for a full cycle). While you breathe, allow your mind to focus on your breathing. Keep it focused there. If/when your mind wanders, gently bring your concentration back to your breath. You’re not here to solve a problem with your mind, to think about what you need to accomplish, or to tell yourself how you might be able to feel better. You’re here to assist your mind in clearing out some of the excess. You do this by training your mind to stay where you decide it should stay, and right now that means focusing on your breathing. As you slowly inhale and exhale, pay attention to how your body and mind respond to the deliberate slow down, and how it helps you to literally shed the stress and anxiety of the moment. You are taking a moment to heal; it really does work.

How did it go? Pay attention to how your body and mind feel now, and ask yourself, “How did that change my mental and physical state from just a minute or two ago?” Keep in mind that any effects you feel now are likely to be amplified and prolonged the more you practice simple meditations. I’ve found the power and calmness my meditations bring tend to get stronger with time.

YOU NEED MEDITATION.  SO WHY ARE YOU LIVING WITHOUT IT?

It’s easy to get carried away on the urgent things in life while at the same time neglecting the important ones.  And sometimes things come up that require us to put everything else on hold. But how often do you choose to spend your time on something good at the expense of something better?

Our brains are tricky. We can want (or even want to want) to do something that’s good for ourselves, and yet our own brain can derail our best intentions as if our will were nothing more than an eyelash in a monsoon. It almost seems like we’re helpless prey in the sights of our most dangerous saboteur.

The secret to true, lasting change comes from understanding that the brain is not a single organ, but really two separate parts working in tandem to keep “you” on the right track. Keep in mind, this doesn’t always mean our brain will make the best decisions on our behalf if left unchecked.

There is the autonomic brain, the brain of instinct; and then there’s the intentional brain, the brain of reason. Once you understand that these two parts exist (mostly) independent of each other, then you can start to identify which part of your brain is responsible for your daily decisions — and it’s that “mostly” that is the secret to taking control of your life. I promise, if this isn’t a concept you’ve understood before today, this one piece of information alone will give you incredible power over your life.

Your subconscious brain wants to make sure you feel ok.  This means it does really great things for us like making sure we keep breathing, keeping our heart pumping, and setting off automatic alarms when we get hungry. But it also turns dastardly when stresses appear, getting you intoxicated for a quick escape, becoming angry so you get a buzz from the release of adrenaline, or pushing you to tear down others in order to feel superior or “in control”.

Once you recognize that these natural impulses are nothing more than simple means intended to extinguish your discomfort, pain, or even exposure to danger, you can begin to train your mind to anticipate healthier, more positive outlets for relief. Listening to your brain is an important key in this process, as is regularly reminding your subconscious brain that the conscious you is now in charge.

So if you’ve known that meditation brings benefits that can help you be happier (you likely have) and perhaps if you’ve even wanted to start practicing it regularly, why have you failed to make it a habit in your life up to now?  Let’s explore some of the most common lies your subconscious might be telling you to keep you back from this healthy change.

LIE #1: YOU CAN HANDLE EVERYTHING THE WAY IT IS NOW

This is a common lie the ego tells us: we can handle our life just the way it is. We don’t need any help.  But let’s think about the depth of that illogic for a moment. For example, what attracted you to this article? What kept you reading? I don’t believe in coincidences, but even if they do happen from time to time I’ll be hard-pressed to believe they’re a common occurrence.  Something led you to keep reading these words on this post on this day. Is there a reason for that?

Let’s say you do have a perfect handle on everything going on in your life right now, even with zero reflection, meditation, or inner exploration. I would hazard to guess that you sense something is missing — something more. Today is the best time to find out what that is. You may not need it now (I’d challenge that notion), but that doesn’t mean you won’t benefit now.  And certainly the regular practice of gentle inward repose will benefit you later in whatever unexpected moment catches you by surprise.

LIE #2: YOU’RE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THE “YOU” YOU MIGHT DISCOVER

You are the most important person in your life.  You have incredible insights that only you can discover within yourself.  That’s right, only you will bring the kind of light into the world that you can uniquely offer, but your individuality won’t simply uncover itself — and your best qualities certainly can’t be revealed by others around you, no matter how much they care for you. Are there parts of yourself which you’d rather not acknowledge or face right now?  Congratulations! You’ve just discovered that you’re human like all the rest of us! But when you start to accept yourself for who you are — right now — you’ll find it easier than ever to tap into the parts of yourself that you love the most, and learn to accentuate those qualities as you grow into the best person you can be.

We all struggle and falter.  That’s part of life.  Be gentle with yourself and accept the best you have to offer while acknowledging the other parts that will provide you the opportunity to improve and develop further.

LIE #3: YOU DON’T FEEL WORTHY OF PEACEFULNESS/YOU DON’T HAVE TIME

Let’s be brutally honest for a moment: if you don’t think you’re able to spare thirty-seven measly seconds out of your day to allow calmness to enter into your mind and body, then your schedule isn’t the problem.  Perhaps the question you should be asking yourself is, why don’t you want to feel calm?  After all, if a few observed breaths can have a measurable impact on your stress levels, then why wouldn’t you take that small moment (or longer) every single day? You’ve already spent 5+ minutes reading this article.  In that amount of time, you could have practiced eight meditations like the one we practiced above. If you think time is your problem then you need to think again.

But there’s good news: you’ve already proven that you do have time, and that you are worthy of that care and attention.  Set a reminder and commit to yourself now that you will take time every day (even if that means spending 20 seconds to focus on 3 breaths) to help yourself become more centered.

LIE #4: YOU DON’T DIDN’T KNOW HOW

Ta-da! If you’ve read the post up to this point (and exchanged less than a minute of your time to participate in the above meditation), then you know how to meditate.  It’s easy to hear the word “meditation” and immediately assume you’re out of your depth.  But the reality is, meditation is both a very broad and an insanely simple concept. An effective meditation can take many forms; but at its core, meditation is simply the art of practicing focus. As the dictionary explains,

“Meditation is the act of thinking deeply or focusing one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.” 

You don’t need to have any special gadgets, you need zero experience, and it doesn’t even require that you have a specific place set aside for it.  As Eckhart Tolle once said, “One conscious breath in and out is a meditation.” If meditation can be something as simple as breathing, then you’ve been practicing your whole life! This can be done literally anywhere, anytime, by anybody.

Of course there are countless things you can do to tailor a meditation to your specific needs, but it should calm your mind to know that getting started — and experiencing powerful, real benefits in the process — requires nothing more than deciding to do it now.

LIE #5: YOU DON’T BELIEVE THERE ARE ANY REAL BENEFITS

This last one seems like it would be reserved for the most skeptical among us, but knowing that the animal brain works so hard to regulate our priorities without us even knowing it, it seems at least reasonable that we show some patience toward the cynic’s hesitation. Hopefully you’ve spent half a minute (or longer!) today trying it for yourself, and have seen that a short moment clearing your mind and relaxing your body can have powerful, lasting effects on your day. But even a skeptic can be dubious of anecdotes, so the logical question we need to answer is whether or not these claimed benefits can be measured and backed by science.

I’m glad you asked. 🙂 A meta-analysis of 163 different studies on the effects of meditation found that meditation has a real, measurable, positive impact on practitioners of meditation. Other studies show that mindfulness meditation can rival pharmaceuticals in effectiveness for treating depression, anxiety, and pain. There are countless other studies that show what a powerful benefit meditation is to the mind and body for those who take the time to practice it.  And that’s the catch: you have to do it to tap into these immense benefits.

SEE STUNNING
VIEWS OF EARTH
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OF YOUR COUCH.

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MY PERSONAL TAKEAWAYS

I am no meditation guru by any measure. Like, if we’re being honest, I’m as likely to benefit from writing this article as you are from reading it. I have learned to love and believe in the power of meditation, and have practiced it just enough to know I don’t do it nearly as often as I should. As a result of this article, the Sky Tripping team has started talking about a 30-day challenge to meditate every day and report back with our thoughts and experiences (expect to see a blogpost or 5 about this in the next month or so). But at the end of the day, having the opportunity to explore why I have kept myself from fully enjoying the benefits of meditation on a daily basis has been extremely valuable. I want to meditate.  I want to want to meditate. Now I have a better idea of why, despite my desires, I’ve allowed myself to be what holds me back from this powerful tool, and what I can do to overcome that roadblock.

MY CHALLENGE TO YOU

1. Take time for yourself.  Recognize that you deserve to take care of your own needs first. Only when you accept that truth will you be fully enabled to help those around you.

2. Personal meditation is just that: personal. Find out what works for you by practicing, exploring, and — when you desire more knowledge — researching what has worked for others. But most importantly, practice! Commit to spending a certain amount of time every day: twenty seconds, two minutes, twenty minutes; one session every morning or two every day — these details don’t matter nearly as much as the fact that you’re actually doing it. You can always improve, refine, and increase. But as they say, starting is half the battle. So start. It really is that simple.

3. Share your experiences with others (including us)! Keeping people in the loop will serve both to help you re-inforce your commitment to yourself, and will also allow you to share something meaningful and helpful with those you care about. The more you discover your own center, the more you’ll find the desire — and the capacity — to help others.

So here’s to increased mindfulness! Sounds off in the comments and let us know how you plan to treat yourself more kindly starting today!