Friday, May 13, 2011

A 28-Day Challenge with Sharon Salzberg

I've been a long time meditator (almost 15 years) and I've said before that nothing has had a bigger impact on my life.

A couple weeks ago, I got a chance to sit down with Sharon Salzberg and talk about meditation and about her book, Real Happiness, which is structured around a 28 day introduction to meditation. We have a small group that meets at our home in the DC area, and we've all have committed to work through this book for the next 28 days. I'd like to offer this blog community the same opportunity, and Sharon has graciously agreed to offer us guidance along the way.

The challenge is simple. For the next four weeks, commit to a five to twenty minute period of seated or walking meditation a few times a week. Each week the focus will be slightly different, and the amount of  practice will increase slightly. At the end of the 28 days, a person should be ready to start a daily meditation practice. (It's kind of like training for a marathon, but one for your mind and well being.)

I asked Sharon why we should do this. Why meditate? We want things so fast in our culture. We want guaranteed, fast, clear results. And meditation offers none of these things.

"That's a problem," she laughed. "But the research shows the brain changes quickly, in as little as a month." Even if we don't notice the changes, she added.

What kind of changes? "Rather than being lost in self-recrimination for a week and a half, you can much more quickly let go," Sharon said.  "I’m going to start over, I’m going to begin again. There are all kinds of things like that in your day to day life."

Why 28 days?

"The best thing is to have some kind of structure. If you can have a structure that feels OK to you, you can try it out and see it as a grand experiment, wholeheartedly, for this limited period of time."

Sharon also said that if you have a structure, you're not so likely to focus on how you're doing each moment.  You're not really meditating, then; you're checking to see if you're meditating. She also emphasizes that the important thing is not how each meditation is going. "The place to look is not while you're doing it, but in your life."

I've never read a book on meditation that is more plain spoken, or easier to follow.

"As a friend of mine told me," Sharon said, "'You wrote this one in American.'"

I encourage you to take up this practice for 28 days, and to comment on your experience on The Corporate Zendo Facebook page.

The challenge officially begins on Monday. Have a great weekend.


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