It’s Day 4 of my 30-day meditation challenge and I figured it was about time to share the challenge with you. Having a daily meditation practice is one of the items on my life list (more on that another time). The past few years have been fraught with extreme stress and challenges — from getting an MM to founding an ensemble, from getting married to the biggest thing of all: losing my mom. Of course, it’s precisely during the most turbulent times that one needs to be meditating … but in the middle of the insanity, I found it hard to get the practice going. I finally have a sense of space in my life, a sense that I can make different decisions and create new patterns. I decided it’s time to get serious.

I’ve tried several times to get a meditation practice going, and I’ve never been successful. Because of my on-and-off efforts and failed attempts, I am still basically a meditation novice, but I am armed with a few pieces of knowledge that I’m trying to remind myself about:

1. Move first. I find it easier to meditate after I’ve done a little yoga to get my body feeling better and more awake. Sunday I did twenty minutes of yoga followed by fifteen minutes of meditation. I definitely noticed increased energy and presence during the day.

2. Don’t beat yourself up. Meditation is really difficult. My understanding is that, especially in the beginning, it is very common that you find yourself unable to focus. One of my favorite meditation teachers, Tara Brach, writes that if you don’t enjoy your meditation practice, there’s no way you’ll continue. So it seems important not to judge yourself for “doing it wrong,” but celebrate the fact that you are doing it.

3. Get a timer. I downloaded the Insight Timer app  for my phone. It has a little special meaning for me because the alarm sound is Tibetan “singing bowls,” which was a sound my mom liked.

4. Remember priorities. Sometimes I feel like I “don’t have time” to meditate, but when I remember how much time I’m going to spend that day on gmail, facebook, Twitter, on the train, teaching other people, earning money, cleaning my apartment, practicing … I realize that fifteen minutes of calm is the least I can give myself.

That’s about all the wisdom I have, but you don’t really come here for wisdom, right? Go to Tara Brach’s website instead. And please let me know if you’d like to join me on the challenge! If I do well, I’m hoping to sometimes meditate with other people.