Four by Four, Sit by Sit

Alright, it’s March! That means the First Nikki Challenge 28-Day Sit-off Meditation Competition is ovar! How’d it go for you? As you recall the rules were minimal. All I asked was for you to sit. That’s it! 60 seconds, 60 minutes, it didn’t matter. The goal was to create a habit, and as all of us know, if the goal is too lofty, we won’t even get started at all.

Kudos to you if you took it the challenge. And a HUGE THANK YOU to our Sit-off sponsors: The awesome people who gave us a little incentive to do our work. Okay, now what, you’re off the hook, right? Actually, no one was ever really “on the hook” with anyone in the first place, really, except with ourself. And that’s the hardest person to hold accountable with, eh?

If you’ve enjoyed sitting, and enjoyed the “sitoff” spirit, fret not, here comes the iEvolve 90 day Meditation Challenge. Yes, that’s a whole whopping *ninety* days, not 28 puny days. Also, this challenge asks that you sit for an hour a day. From their website:


Meditate 1 hour everyday for 90 days in a row. You can sit for 60-minutes straight, two 30- minute periods, or 4 15-minute periods. Whatever works for you. Either way, that’s 90 hours of meditation under your belt! Start Spring 2010 off right and re-energize your practice and your life with our 90 day meditation challenge.

As you know, I’m a huge believer of doing things in an easy, steady, sustainable way. So, I’ve decided to tweak the rules a little bit (“they’re more like guidelines anyway”). I’ve decided to use the divide and conquer strategy. I’ve also included Pranayama as part of the sit. Let’s call it MPx4, Meditation and Pranayama by Four sittings a day. An hour seems like a lot, but 15 minutes? We all have 15 minutes here and there to spare.

Every Day Is A Winding Road

The Challenge calls for 90 hours of sitting, that’s 5400 minutes. My take is you ought to account for mishaps in life, and you ought to be able to make up for them.

If you miss a day, add another day to the challenge. For example, it’s March 1, 2010 as I’m writing this, but you’re reading about this on March 2, or 3. Who says you have to finish May 28, 2010? Why not May 29, or 30? This can go too far, however. You might say to yourself, “I’m putting it off until January 1, 2011, yeah, that’ll be my New Year Resolution!”

So, why not set a deadline of the last day of Spring, which is June 20, 2010? It’s like those punch cards where you get a limited time to use. That adds a whole whopping 23 days to the 90-day sit, that’s like 25% more for the same price!

If you miss 15 minutes, add another 15 minutes. If you’ve only done 15 minutes today, add 45 minutes to your “Credit” column, and save it for a make-up day. DO NOT binge and purge. Well, do it if you want to, but I strongly advise against the dieter’s mentality of having “cheat days” where you go berserk with everything in sight. Don’t think, oh, I’m not gonna sit today, but I’ll sit for five hours this weekend. It doesn’t work in the long run. It’s unsustainable.

The exception, of course, is if you’ve signed up for a sit where you really will sit for five hours, then I think it’s cool. What doesn’t work is the old college habit of cramming. It’s 10pm and that 50-page paper is due at 8am tomorrow morning? No problems, I have a whole *twelve* hours to write. Yeah, that rarely ends well.

Okay, here’s a recap:

  • The challenge is to complete 5400 minutes of sitting, a combination of Pranayama and Meditation.
  • You must do each session for at least 15 minutes.
  • You’re strongly encouraged to sit for an hour a day.
  • You have from March 1, 2010 to June 20, 2010 to complete.


Are you a math/stat geek? Keep tabs and quantify on your effort. For example, you can record when you sit, and do a tally on whether you do more Pranayama or Meditation in the morning, or at night.

Any time's a good time for a spreadsheet!

Any time's a good time for a spreadsheet!

What do you think? Are you in?

When we take the meditation posture, we’re developing a posture and attitude of attentive openness to whatever arises, and this is actually a very brave thing to do. I think maybe we wouldn’t actually even begin on this journey if we knew how brave that is, to just sit, and open our minds, open our whole being, with attentive openness to whatever might arise.

Because in so doing, we’re actually opening ourselves beyond our usual habitual view of ourself and of reality. We actually don’t know what we’re going to see, and one of the first things that one gradually begins to perceive is that perhaps we aren’t quite who we thought we were.

We sit, and we just look, with an openness, as much openness as we can, and in so doing, we’re opening ourselves to letting go, or seeing through, or at least seeing exactly who we are and what we do. We’re setting ourselves up, you could say, for some of the ways, and eventually all of the ways in which we conventionally and habitually view reality, to let those fall apart, so it’s very brave. And this path, is considered the Path of the Brave Ones, which doesn’t mean we *are* brave, but it means we begin to cultivate our fearlessness.

– Pema Chodron, From Fear to Fearlessness, Session 1, Beginning the Path of the Brave Ones.

Those rules, they're more like guidelines anyway

Those rules, they're more like guidelines anyway