The 27th of February marks a very special milestone for me - 1000 consecutive days of meditation. I only recently noticed that this was approaching, and it gave me pause to think and now write about what this practice has meant, what it means now, and how it is impacting the totality of me.
I’m deeply across my stats for two reasons, one because my app of choice, Insight Timer, has the option of that function and I say gimme metrics. The other is because I remember the moment of saying yes to meditating clearly, probably, (actually totally), not knowing where it would lead, but just saying yes. My wisdom and compassion winged buddy Reed Everingham was the man that handed me Insight Timer and his meditation practice. Good enough for Reed, good enough for me.
Like many peeps, I had intermittently meditated over the years, done courses and retreats like Vipassana, but nothing had stuck into anything that resembled a practice. I had so much intention, but the follow through was definitely lacking. What changed you may ask? The truthful answer is I don’t know. I can hypothesise that by using the timer app I had an anchor. There was and is something about having an accountability to showing up and having my daily activity recorded that kept me coming back each day. I didn’t want to let the timer down - and I knew it was watching and judging me :-)
I also responded to the sense that I was part of a bigger global connection of meditators. Insight Timer’s founders belief that if enough people meditated continually and together, that this action could make profound and real change in the world was compelling. I wanted to be part of that movement for peace and connectivity, and that kept me engaged and before I knew it, it was wearing a groove in my neural pathway.
There were lots of things that previously I had loved the intention, believed in the values and ethos of the company, and had not adopted into my life long term as daily non-negotiables (charcoal smoothies; colonic irrigation; paleo diets.) I put the stickiness of my relationship with meditation to being like my relationship with my husband - sometimes you just don’t know why, but you slide right in like a comfy jumper and you never want to leave. Its a sense of familiarity. The band was back together and we’ve never played better.
I wrote a post on meditation practice and how it changed my life in the journal a while ago. It was said by Malcolm Gladwell that you need to invest 10000 hours in any activity to attain mastery, roughly 20 years worth of focus. This concept has been strongly challenged in recent years, and with good science to back it up. Our access to knowledge, our capacity to develop feedback loops and deep dive on information with collaboration all potentially hasten ‘mastery’ if this concept is purely applied to competence and execution.
Meditation is one area where the idea of mastery is anathema to the concept of engaging in a practice for a lifetime (and potentially beyond). Mastery sits somewhere in the ego and the need to dominate. Meditation asks of us only that we stop and shed these desires to own and to know, and instead move from our thinking minds into the liminal space of our hearts, where mastery dissolves in finding a connection with our selves, and with all others.
1000 days of meditation has softened my edges, it has created internal feedback loops that quickly jump on and identify when I am operating out of a judgement mind, when I’m creating stories and holding tightly to a belief in their reality, when I’m building future concepts to cling to where no reality exists. 1000 days has loosened my grip when it comes to knowing or needing to know, to be that master. It has pushed my decision making processes down into my gut and heart as my better self board of directors, and I exist far more comfortably in uncertainty and rapid change. 1000 days has prioritised kindness, amplified my inner voice to quickly speak to the observable and subtle suffering of others, helping me to remember that we are all born with our buddha nature intact, and underneath the pain and the armour it is always present in everything.
Mindfulness is a hot-button concept in so many walks of life now, but especially business, where the corporate world is beginning to see that it is impactful in deed not just in word for creating better productivity, but actually in creating happier, more connected, more purpose driven humans. I love seeing this become (so called) ‘mainstream’ and people that may have formerly shied away from something they saw as spiritual or religious, embracing taking a moment to begin a self-reflective process that is a gateway drug to contentment.
Embedding my meditation practice daily for so long means that it is integrated strongly and entwined with everything else. I can see its principals in all aspects of daily life – it’s there in the patience and wonder of making sourdough, it’s there in the grace and service of delivering workshops, it’s there in the surrender and middle path of planning my tech company in constant uncertainty, all vastly different activities where I come back to the breath, and the centre for the better.
1000 days. 1102 hours. 66120 minutes. All of them a scaffold to somewhere I don’t need to know about. Yeah. I still love the stats. And I still get a real thrill out of seeing my commitment to service ticking up day after day. The biggest thrill of all is realising that I am spending so much more time in awareness and observation, rather than reaction and emotion. Ain’t no number that can measure that.