Two Weeks of Meditation

Ok, I’m digging meditation.

I started with no goal, which I quickly discovered is helpful. Rather than gear up for a class, commit to a serious amount of time, or set a goal for myself, I just started. I started small with 5 minute sessions a couple of times a day using the Calm iPhone app. Sometimes it was twice a day, sometimes it was three times a day. They have a really nice “7 Steps of Calm” which is an easy way to get into it.

To break it up, I also started using Headspace. They have a “Take10” series which are short 10 minute sessions with Andy, the founder. I’ve done a few of them and toss them in whenever I’m in front of my computer and want a 10 minute session.

Last weekend I had a long conversation with Jerry Colonna about meditation. We sat on his couch on a Sunday afternoon as the snow came down and just rolled around in the meta of mediation. Again, there was no goal, and no judgement. Just random thoughts that we shared. Very calmly.

On Wednesday, Michael Rich, one of Jerry’s partners for the CEO Bootcamp, swung by my office. We had a delightful talk and at the end sat for 10 minutes together. He introduced me to the Insight Timer app. I’ve now used it a couple of times and love it.

Yesterday, before my Startup Colorado board meeting, I was feeling tense. So I ducked into a CU Law Faculty Lounge and sat for 10 minutes with the Insight Timer app. The rest of the evening was so much calmer.

When I was with Jerry, I mentioned that I felt a significant shift in how I felt. I’ve been under a lot of stress since the beginning of the year and have been wary about it spiraling out of control. I have been a little fearful of falling into a depression like I did last year. I haven’t been fighting it, but it’s not where I want to be. When I told Jerry I didn’t care whether the meditation effect was real or a placebo effect, he snickered lovingly, in that “you have a wonderful journey in front of you my friend” kind of way. That moment was another lesson, which is that it doesn’t matter what I think, or don’t think, which is part of the point of it all.

I’m very clear that I’m not trying to be good at this. I’m not trying to be disciplined. I’m not focused on any particular outcome. I’m just practicing. And I like that a lot.

  • John Fein

    Love the non-judgmental, Zen approach to your meditation. Makes perfect sense!

  • jerrycolonna

    And that, my dear friend, is why we call it practice.
    Have fun on the ride.

  • Sounds like it’s been an incredible journey so far, with much more to come. Always great to hear! And glad it’s had such a positive impact.

  • MoreyBean

    Try Real Happiness. Great book. 20 minutes: Let me be safe…let me be peaceful…let me be happy.

    • Thx. On the Kindle to read!

  • Brad,

    I couldn’t help but cringe at how many times you’ve mentioned apps or other ‘tools’ to help you get going. You really think that people 500 years ago used mobile phones to help them meditate?

    Get out in the nature, do it once a day and do it right – peacefully, purposefully and mindfully.

    Sorry, but the bubble will keep bursting itself. That’s meditation.

    • Kelly James

      I understand the point you are trying to make, but 500 years ago people did use tools to help them meditate. Beads, mantras, smoke, asanas, etc. We all have to start somewhere.

    • 500 years ago it was a man with a gong. I’m happy I have a mobile that can gong at me. Requires less food.

      There is no such thing as “do it right”. There is only practice, and practice is only right for an individual.

    • Why should “pure meditation be the only meditation.” That doesn’t make any sense to me.

      • It’s sad that it was the only argument out of the whole comment that you chose to pick, as it clearly clashes with the beginning of the comment and my statement about using ‘apps’ to ‘help you meditate’ – the bubble keeps bursting itself.

        Take care.

        • Why is it sad? I don’t understand your judgement. And I don’t understand your assertion to “do it right.” What is “right”?

          • Hi Brad,

            like I said, I’ve used guided meditations before, and I do find them great to a certain extent, like when I want to switch off from everything and just have something in the background playing – telling me what to do at best. The visualization part is definitely appealing.

            I’ve never heard of the apps you mentioned in this post, and I’m not going to bother with trying and learning about them, I gave this a little bit more thought last night and I think I might have come off a little bit too impulsive – which is not a bad thing, and only means that I find the natural way more appealing and feel that I need to protect it.

            I’m sure you can understand where I am coming from, and I hope I didn’t leave too many bad impressions on you. Keep on meditating, and keep trying new things.

            I hope that you’ll stick with the practice, and I hope to hear more stories.

    • StevenHB

      Alex, I get the feeling that using tools doesn’t work for you. Which is fine.

      But just because there’s a solution that works for you doesn’t mean that your solution is the right solution for everyone. We’re all different. Each of us has to find a path that works for him/her.

  • roycehaynes

    Being in the now and relaxing is very difficult these days, at least for me. Its something that I’m working on this year. Thanks for the app recommendations.

  • Krishna R

    Hi Brad, thanks for being open about your journey. Art of living is a meditative practice that I learnt in India. Its all about breathing, a process called Sudarshan Kriya. End result is a very calm and aware state of mind. Local chapters in your area are listed here:

    • Thx. I’ll take a look.

  • Dave Linhardt

    When I’m able to achieve a calm mind, often times an idea or an inspiration will enter my mind during a meditation session. It’s usually related to a difficult problem I’ve been dealing with.

    When this happens and the session time is over, I immediately take action. This could be anything as simple as an email sent to someone who can help or writing out the idea or bullet list plan that goes with it. The ideas that come from my calm mind are usually pretty damn good, if I say so myself.

    I think this is the effect of shutting down my chattering monkey brain and accessing my prefrontal cortex. This is where creativity and breakthrough thinking comes from. This part of our brains is effectively turned off when we are afraid, anxious or feel threatened.

    I’ve been mediating for about a year. I can control my blood pressure without medication. I also have a lot of good ideas that I’m putting into motion. Using meditation as a way to access higher-level cognitive function, has opened up a new world for me and new ways of looking at it.

    • Powerful. I’ve had this experience while running. But when meditating, I’ve been letting all my thoughts drift away on a cloud. I just watch them go into the distance.

  • Elizabeth Kraus

    I love that you are so open about this. It helps all of us who struggle to fit 10 lbs of crap into a 5 lb bag on a daily basis and more importantly, it helps the 8 million people who email you to understand how to be respectful of your time. I’m going to try to emulate this in my own world. And most importantly, I am so happy that you haven’t responded to any of these comments on Saturday morning. I just hope your openness doesn’t create more stress because of the millions of comments that you may feel obligated to respond to. Just something you may want to think about…..Bon Weekend!

    • Ah – the joy of digital sabbath. I didn’t look at these comments until Sunday morning. And – thanks for the awesome bracelet from your mom. Amy loves it.

  • Thanks for sharing the Apps Brad, installing and trying them out.

    Just living in Boulder and being around Eldorado Canyon is a blessing, your wife Amy and the wonder dog and of course having a zen master like Jerry as a friend, – so much goodness around you. The universe loves you and you deserve it all.

    • Yeah – it helps to live in an amazing and tranquil place.

  • Pierre Paperon

    And then jump in a full session for 10 days with 10 hours per day as in sesshin for Zen. Quantum leap is ahead. Difference between 2 days for Mont Blanc and 2 months on Everest North Face. Cheers.

    • Some day. My wife Amy has done several Vipassana 10 day ones. Maybe someday.

  • Awesome post Brad. Thank you.

  • After meditating, everything else in your life gets the volume turned down.

    • That’s a great way to put it. I’m going to use that. I’m definitely experiencing it.

  • iK way
  • Andrew

    Yes! No goal, no “good at”. Meditation is different and I like how you’re approaching it.

  • genfurukawa

    I am also just getting familiar with and enjoy their content. also has an Intro to meditation plan on Lift (, with guided audio practices focusing on different aspects of meditation, in very doable 5-10 minutes sessions. The nice part about engaging in a solo practice like meditation through Lift is the social reinforcement and other users’ comments–good to know I am not the only one whose mind wanders after mere seconds!

  • Thanks to your honest posts about meditation and depression I’ve found a new use for Airplane Mode on my phone. I’ll find 5 minutes in my day, sit in a quiet place, set my phone to Airplane Mode and just let thinking happen.

    I may try one of those cool apps you describe, but for now the simplicity of Airplane Mode is working pretty good.
    Take care!

  • Brad … thanks for sharing. I have never meditated and am trying to be more open minded about things I don’t truly understand, so I plan to try out some of these apps. My way of clearing my mind of the daily “load” has been to ride my motorcycle, which forces me to be very focused on riding and on all those other vehicles around me. Meditation might be a slightly safer way for me to clear my head! Thanks again.

    • I’d always used running as my proxy for meditation. But now that I’m meditating AND running, I see that they are different – and very complementary – things. Enjoy the journey!

  • Can’t sit still long enough to meditate. Need to though as I suffer from a bit of depression and fear.

  • I use Insight Timer as well. Works great. I think I just added you as a friend — not that we need another friend list to manage! But it’s motivating to see others I know who are sitting…

    • I’m splitting my time between Insight Timer and Headspace at this point. I like them both.

  • angilly

    I had a great Zazen instructor years ago. He used to say “try to count from 1 to 2 without thinking any thoughts, as soon as you successfully get to 2 without thinking anything anything, you’ve failed, because you were thinking of counting from 1 to 2.” I hated him 🙂

    But whatever the hell he was talking about, it worked, because my mid-20s were where I got my life together and eventually got myself out to Boulder. This is a great paradox of a book (confusing & englightening) to anyone interested in meditation:

    • I love the paradox.

  • ed

    I go to kriya yoga church in palo alto, where steve jobs used to go

  • Karl McCollester

    Great app recommendation Brad. I’m on day 4 of headspace and really enjoying it. Thanks!