The 40 Day Meditation Challenge
Let’s step into spring with a clear mind and a fresh start! With the change of the season, I invite you to join me in a 40 day meditation practice. Each and every one of us can gain something from creating a meditation practice in our lives. It requires little time and no cost, and the results of this commitment are life changing.
Meditation is a powerful addition to any wellness and self-care practice, and performing a 40 day practice to begin or reconnect with meditation is a sacred custom in yogic and other spiritual traditions.
The how-to is simple: Choose a time of day and a comfortable, private space and meditate every day for 40 days in a row. Why 40 days? Old habits are hard to break, and initially the effort it takes to change old behaviors takes great discipline and consistency. If this is your first meditation practice, you will understand soon that the practice is primarily about creating a discipline. Historically, 40 days is known as an auspicious amount of time to break out of old cycles and retrain the brain toward creating a joyful life.
I will be posting throughout the week about how, when, where, and why to embark on this 40 day journey into meditation. We will start the meditation challenge on the Spring Equinox, Monday, March 20. For further support, refer to the blog posts The Gifts of Meditation and Getting Set to Meditate: Creating a Sacred Space. These blogs will help you prepare for and make the most of the 40 day challenge.
If this post has caught your eye and you feel curious about adopting this practice, there’s no time like the present! But if you don’t join in right now, if your mind keeps circling back to the idea days or weeks from now, listen to those signs. You will know when the time is right for you. If that is now, make the most of this opportunity and commit to this wonderful adventure of self-discovery!
For those of you who decide to jump in, please tell me about your experiences! Ask me questions and share your reflections here on my page with my community of meditators. Check back often throughout the next 40 days for guidance.
Are you ready to start? Here’s how to do it.
Opening Practice for Meditation
As a Kundalini yogi, I always open my practice by chanting the Adi Mantra: Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo (I bow to the subtle Divine wisdom within, I bow to the Divine teacher within) three times. If this is not familiar to you or doesn’t appeal to you, use an opening practice of your choosing.
For your three-minute meditation, I’ll ask you to engage the Long Deep Breath, one of the most ancient, basic, and most powerful practices I know. The Long Deep Breath floods the body with fresh oxygen and stimulates a calming response. The benefits are numerous, including stimulating brain activity, neutralizing the fear response, rejuvenating the circulatory system, and slowing the pulse. The mastery of this breath has become a lifeline for me in all kinds of situations.
By doing this simple practice, you will understand the nuances of the breath and gain knowledge of how you are breathing. This will give you a baseline to start from. When you become comfortable with this breath, you can call on it in any situation or circumstance of your daily life. If thoughts of judgment pop into your mind, notice their arrival and do your best to release them by bringing your focus back to the breath again.
Practicing the Long Deep Breath
- Sit in a chair or on the ground in a position that allows your spine the ability to lengthen. Use whatever pillows or props you need to make this position as comfortable as possible. If you’ve set up a sacred space, go there.
- Sit tall and feel the crown of your head reaching toward the sky.
- Tip your chin just enough to lengthen the back of your neck, so the breath can flow freely.
- Place your hands on your belly and breathe as you normally breathe. Notice: Is your belly pulling in when you take a breath, or is it pushing out? If your belly pulls in on the inhale, your breath will be shallow, only letting the air enter the upper part of your lungs. When your belly expands on the inhale, your lungs are flooded with fresh air, blowing up like a balloon.
- Keep your hands on your belly as you practice. Inhale. Feel your body expand, starting with your chest and stretching all the way to your belly. If your breath doesn’t make it to your belly at first, don’t worry. Allow it to go where it feels most natural, and over the course of time, work toward moving it deeper into your body. It will happen with practice and dedication.
- Exhale. Feel your body contract, from your belly up to your chest. Let all the air from your lungs release.
- Start again.
- Repeat the long deep breath for 3 minutes. Do this simple practice once a day for 40 days.
Close your practice with the Long Time Sun, a song we sing at the end of Kundalini yoga practice: May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you, and the pure light within you, guide your way on.
This meditation is perfect for beginners. Give it a chance, and with commitment and discipline, dreams will come true!