The Real Happiness 28-day Meditation Challenge

Orange cover of book Real Happiness

Sharon Salzberg, a nationally renowned US based meditation teacher, has a new book out called Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation, A 28-day program. In coordination with her new book, a group of folks around the country are doing the 28-day challenge in the month of February.

Today is day one!

A few of the Feministing Editors (I’ll let them reveal themselves if they so choose) are also participating in the challenge, myself included.

I’ve tried meditation before. For over three years I’ve been trying to incorporate it into my daily life, mostly as a response to my struggles with anxiety. I have pretty major challenges with anxiety. I’ve struggled with it all my life, I realize now, but only was able to really name it about three years ago, when a pretty severe bout led me to therapy.

One of the first things that first therapist did with me was a guided meditation.

Subsequent therapists have told me that the only things that have been medically proven to help with anxiety (that aren’t prescription drugs) are meditation and exercise. I once heard this saying, which really stuck with as to why meditation can be really important. It also goes well with Sharon’s book title.

Depression is about living in the past. Anxiety is living in the future. Happiness is living in the present.

Meditation, I’m learning, is an exercise for the mind. It’s an exercise in letting go, in watching our thoughts without judgment, in relaxation. At least that is what the type of meditation I’ve practiced, mindfulness-based, is all about. It’s about watching, observing and listening.

It’s an ancient practice that has it’s strongest roots in Eastern philosophy and religion. It’s quickly being recognized globally for it’s positive impacts on people’s lives.

Sharon Salzberg has a very beautiful and accessible way of talking and writing about meditation. The experiment is to build up to a daily meditation practice (of 20 minutes each). Week one starts with just three sessions total.

The cool thing about the challenge is that those involved in it are also blogging and tweeting about their experiences. We’re an extremely diverse group–some seasoned meditators, many who are brand new. Diverse ages, backgrounds, careers, regions of the country.

You can follow along with the experiment at Sharon’s blog, where folks are already writing away about the challenge, or on twitter with the hashtag #realhappiness. You can also participate! The first chapter of her book as well as samples of the guided meditations that are included are available for download, free of charge.

I’ll leave you with a picture of the meditation corner that I just set up this weekend in my home office. It’s modest, but it feels good to have a dedicated spot in my home just for this.

Picture of corner of Miriam's office, with a blanket and two pillows

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