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Day 28 of Wildmind’s 100 Day Meditation Challenge

100 day meditation challenge 028How’s the 100 Day Meditation Challenge going for you?

I confess we rather threw this project together at the last moment. Someone had mentioned in Wildmind’s Google+ Community that they’d just completed 100 straight days of meditation, and someone else said “Hey, what about a 100 Day Challenge,” and I said yes. This was all in late December!

One thing I didn’t take much time to think about was the stated purpose of the challenge. One soul on Facebook thought we were running some kind of competitive meditation event, but it certainly isn’t that! The original aim was to encourage people to set up a habit of meditating daily by sitting every day (or aiming to sit every day) for 100 days.

One problem with this is that it’s a rather daunting undertaking for some people — those new to meditation and those who haven’t had anything close to a daily practice for some time — to think about sitting for 100 days. And feelings of failure can arise, which isn’t helpful

I think next time I’d frame the challenge rather differently. It would be over the course of 100 days, to have established a daily meditation practice. This allows for some initial difficulty in getting on the cushion, and takes some of the strain out of participating. But you have 100 days to get your #$@& together.

For people who already have a half-way strong practice, it would be feasible to aim for sitting every one of those days, but again there would be less of a tendency to think we’ve “failed” when we’ve missed a day.

This whole thing is about building a habit. Not about attaining perfection.

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About Bodhipaksa

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Bodhipaksa is a Buddhist practitioner and teacher, a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, and a published author. He founded Wildmind in 2001. Bodhipaksa has published many guided meditation CDs and guided meditation MP3s.

He teaches at Aryaloka Buddhist Center in Newmarket, New Hampshire. You can follow Bodhipaksa on Twitter, join him on Facebook, or hang out with him on .

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Comments

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Comment from alyson
Time: January 28, 2013, 4:02 am

a friend and i discussed the word ‘challenge’. she said it put her off from the start. it was great to read today a more gentle approach – aiming to set up an established practice.

also for me the timing was an issue – so many ‘new’ things start in january i was a bit overwhelmed and could not commit to everything i would have liked to – maybe this ‘challenge’ can be offered in different ways through out the year?? just a thought xx

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Comment from Christina
Time: January 28, 2013, 11:10 am

Dear Bodhipaksa,

This one of your wonderful posts calls for an answer. I have been in contact with the FWBO/Triratna for some 20 years now, but I was only 17 when I first encountered the dharma, and after a couple of years of serious practice, I felt that I was not up to it yet, that I didn’t really know who I was, that it was driving me away from any social life with my peers and that I needed to make other experiences first. I had the strong feeling that it was the right path for me, but not the right time, but also that I would notice when the right time had come. I know, this sounds as if I could talk myself into doom, but it actually started to dawn on me about 2 years ago that the time had finally come – and even though I live quite a while from the next centre by now, I went on some retreats and, with the feeling of having to drag myself onto the cushion, took the burden of meditation upon me again. Or that’s how it felt at the time. Interestingly, by going on retreats, slowly starting to read books again, etc., I started seeing a very fresh angle to meditation every now and then. That is one of the reasons, however, why I went on retreat over New Year’s again and was not on Facebook around the first of January, and I only heard of the 100 day challenge when I went to a weekend meditation workshop on the 19th. I was really hooked by the idea at once. It was the perfect timing – everything that had felt like such a drag and burden for such a long time suddenly felt very new, pure, vibrant and colourful and I simply couldn’t wait to get into a regular meditation practice! I am only on day 10 of my own 100 day challenge, but I have never enjoyed meditation so much, I feel almost excited to get up in the morning to sit on the cushion. It is nothing that has ever come easily to me, especially now that I live some 3 hours from the next centre and meditating with other people is something I only do on rare occasions, so the motivation needs to come from within me, probably more than it does for others. I just wanted to tell you this because for me the 100 day challenge was exactly the right thing coming ahead at exactly the right time. If the ‘challenge’ had been more like you suggested in the post, I am sure that nobody would have even told me about it. And, funny as it sounds, I am also sure that I would not have a regular meditation practice now. There was still a spark missing, and the ‘challenge’ ignited the already built heap of dry wood. Less energy would have had no effect on me there. So thank you for having done this exactly as you have!
Best wishes from Germany,
Christina

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: January 28, 2013, 11:15 am

Hi, Christina.

Thanks for writing, and for sharing your story. I’m glad we’ve been able to be here as a support. In future years I’m hoping that we’ll be able to put together some guided meditation recordings to give the challenge a bit more of a central focus. At the moment we just don’t have the resources to do that. If you’d like to help plans like that to come to fruition, I’d encourage you to make a regular donation via our Sit : Love : Give program. You’ll find details at that link or in the sidebar to the right.

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Comment from Al
Time: January 28, 2013, 2:01 pm

Bodhipaksa,

Do not denigrate yourself or the challenge.

The timing of the announcement was spot-on and
your daily essays are a useful encouragement.

I’m especially appreciative of your permission that
perfection is not required. If not, my one missed
day may have ended with me abandoning the project.

Please continue with your daily vignettes and kindly
consider a new challenge after this one.

With metta,

Al

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: January 28, 2013, 2:06 pm

Thanks. There was no intention to denigrate the challenge, but simply to give a more considered view of what it was about. I think it’s good to reflect on how we’ve done things in order that we can learn.

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Comment from Andy
Time: January 28, 2013, 7:04 pm

Here’s my two penn’orth.
I think some people (like moi) find a “friendly challenge” helpful to motivate them, others don’t. There is no one-size fits all. This challenge is for the first group. No-one was forced to join (I hope!)

People also have different reactions when they fall short of the ‘ideal’ target. Anything from “well 51 out of 100 ain’t bad!” to “OMG, I missed one day out of the hundred, I am such a loser!” So, again, pretty difficult to set it up to keep everyone happy! Some people will miss a day and give up. Others will say “oops, I slipped, I’ll be more careful from here on”.Given that you specified quite a moderate daily minimum – it was 5 minutes, I think – that effectively allow people to set their own targets regarding session length. Personally I see the 5 minutes as a safety net which thankfully I haven’t needed (yet!).

As you say, it’s all about building a habit, and that was made very clear from the start. And that habit is to meditate every day – just like we brush our teeth, or eat breakfast, or drink tea every day. So it really wouldn’t make sense to set any other target than to do it every day. However, the target number of days is not so obvious (to this bunny, anyway).

Some say it takes 30 days to establish a new habit, so that might be an option another time. Although we’re on day 28 now and I can’t say I feel that “solid” yet, despite having been pretty safe so far in terms of not missing (or even nearly missing) any days. It would be interesting to know how others feel – their confidence levels, I mean. The prize here is huge, so the 100 day target doesn’t feel disproportionate. Three months might have been as effective, but maybe doesn’t have that same allure as the magic figure 100.

Wow! Didn’t realise I had that much to say! Maybe is was three penn’orth.

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