The 30-Day Brain Cleanse Challenge

January seemed to fly by this year and, if the attendance at my gym is any indication, the arrival of February seems to have solidified which New Year’s resolutions we’re keeping.  I always look forward to the optimism of the New Year—blogs are full of 30-day fitness challenges, month-long meal plans, and lists of books to change your life.  By February all the enthusiasm seems to fizzle and we’re back to 10 things to do with leftover chili and the occasional piece on maintaining motivation—the implication, of course, being that it has largely disappeared.  One thing I’ve noticed living in LA is that here you’re encouraged to reinvent yourself constantly, not just January 1st.  I’m reminded on a daily basis that I can let my new life begin with 1-800-GET-THIN. (If risky surgery and eating baby food for 3 months is your idea of a new life…)

Anyway, I’m a big fan of trying on new habits and month-long experiments, and inspired by the ever-popular-in-SoCal juice cleanse, I’ve decided to try a 30-day brain cleanse.  I’ve always had a hard time sitting still—my idea of relaxing is reading a book while knitting.  I can’t nap, no matter how tired I am, and that part of the yoga class where you lie quietly on your mat and try to relax your toes drives me crazy.  I’ve always been interested in meditation in the abstract (who isn’t, really?), but I’ve never been able to stick to any sort of routine.  In the past I’ve tried guided meditations, which always work well for a couple of days, but I seem to get bored and zone out as soon as I’m familiar with the script.  At that point I always get frustrated that my mind seems to be wandering more and more with each session, and eventually I give up.  This time, instead of just hitting play on my iPod, I’ve decided to commit to a plan.

The 30-Day Brain Cleanse Challenge

Week 1: Meditate 5 minutes, twice a day

Week 2: One 5-minute and one 10-minute meditation daily

Week 3: One 5-minute and one 15-minute meditation daily

Week 4: One 5-minute and one 20-minute meditation daily          

 My thinking is that cultivating an effective 5-minute meditation would be a useful tool for life in general.  It could be done nearly anywhere—at work, in the car before I go to the gym, or just when I need a moment of space and quiet.  The goal of the longer meditations is to (hopefully) learn to slow down my mind a bit.  I’m hoping that by increasing the length of the meditations incrementally, I’ll have greater success than trying to jump in all at once, and also give myself some appreciable progress to keep me motivated.  My plan for Week 1 is to use a simple breath meditation of 3-count inhale, 1-count pause, 3-count exhale, 1-count pause. 

 Join me in the 30-Day Brain Cleanse Challenge—I’m counting on the blog to keep me honest and on the wagon.  I’ll post my progress along with any other insights periodically.

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