I’ve alluded to the fact that I’ve been following Sharon Salzberg’s work recently, and a little late to the game, I discovered her Real Happiness Challenge on Day 2. I’ve been dabbling in the free lessons and podcasts that Dan Harris does over on 10% Happier after reading his book a while back, and Sharon often shares her wisdom through their programs. So the Challenge is to spend the month of February completing daily free meditations while following along on her book. Since I stumbled upon the challenge too late, I’ll have to read the book some other time and maybe be better prepared for next year’s challenge.

The theme for week 1 is Concentration. Sharon took us through the basic breath meditation, hearing meditation, mental noting, counting meditation, self compassion, balancing energy during meditation, and distraction meditation. I haven’t gotten to the point where I can reliably complete a meditation session without direct guidance, so it’s nice to learn about the various types of practice that are out there.

The most challenging for me was the counting meditation. You mentally note the “in” of each breath and count each “out” until you reach 10, when you begin again. The caveat is that if you become distracted, you start over at 1. I tend to have what I’ll call “micro-distractions,” where the thought passes quicker than it takes to complete a whole breath in. And this leads to the mental debate about whether or not it “counts” as a distraction worthy of starting back at 1. But alas, pettiness with oneself does not pave the path toward enlightenment.

I probably need to steep a little longer in this daily practice of meditation before more profound life truths become apparent, but fortunately for me, we’re starting week 2 today.