I’m on day 9 of 100 in my quest to making meditation an integral part of my daily routine. At just shy of 10%, I have already learned a lot that will inform the next 90. I’m going to walk through what I’m planning to draw upon, from most concrete to most abstract.

1. Tools matter.

meditation-progress-sam-killermannThere’s this famous Audre Lorde quote that gets tossed around a lot in the social justice activism spaces I occupy: “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

Folks generally take it to mean that you can’t undo a harmful system using components that support that harmful system, or by working within that system.

There are lots and lots of debates about that quote, and you can read them (or we could get into them another time), but for now it’s the second part of the quote that I am appealing to (the part that is often omitted): “They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”

It’s this idea, that the master’s tools may temporarily allow us to be him at his own game, that I’ve found to be particularly salient this past week. Indeed, I’ve managed to turn just about every thing in my life that led me to mindlessness into a tool to help me practice mindfulness.Keep Reading

About a year ago I committed to writing on this site every day for 100 days in a row. Today, I’m committing to something similar and different: I’m going to start meditating every day, for at least the next 100.

Let me explain why, and how I plan to do it.

I’ve had an inconsistent meditation practice for about a decade now. At its best, I meditate every day for a streak of a week or two. At its worst, I meditate once a month.

But here’s the thing: I know that meditation makes me happier, calmer, work better, think clearer — it makes me better. Every time. I can even verify this for myself with some [obviously slanted] data: looking back at my journal, and comparing that against the records from the meditation app I use (Calm), I can see that on days I meditate I almost always finish every task I set out to do in the morning. I’m also more gracious, thoughtful, and patient in my responses.

On the days I don’t meditate, well, I get by, but I’m a bit messier. And sometimes those days turn into weeks into months. That’s what’s happened these past few weeks.

And the science backs this up, right? We all know this, if we exist even a little on the internet. Just google “the scientific benefits of meditation” and bask in the bazillion hits of glory.Keep Reading

Some days, I wake up spooning my guitar. This comforts me, then I realize I could have destroyed it so it terrifies me, then I realize I didn’t destroy it so I’m comforted again. It’s a roller coaster. Other days, my guitar is the first thing I reach for in the morning. I’m still rubbing sleepies out of my eyes while I fingerpick a few notes and think about what I’m going to do with my day.

If I’m having a tumultuous day, or I’m feeling particularly down, or I feel like the world is broken, or if I run out of hummus ingredients, I’ll pick it up, pick some strings, and it will immediately pick me up. Sometimes I only need a few minutes, sometimes I need a couple of hours, but it always works. Every. Single. Time.

My guitar is my pacifier.Keep Reading

I was reading a blog post someone wrote about me (I know. Let’s move on.) and they described me as “incredibly ambitious.” This was meant to be a compliment. Cool. Nice of you. But I don’t see it that way. I get upset when people describe me or think of me as ambitious. In general, I discourage ambition.

In many ways, ambition is the opposite of who I am, want to be, and what I want for others.Keep Reading

Intentionality, Mindfulness, and Minimalism are all you need, beyond basic biological requirements (clean water, nutritious food, human touch, etc.), to live a happy existence. This is what I’ve come to believe. I’ll define what I mean by all three, and talk about their relationship to one another, but first I want to talk about “happiness.”

I don’t aspire toward being happy all the time, nor do I recommend it. I don’t think of happiness as existing at the opposite end of sadness, nor do I think that sadness is inherently bad. All emotions have value.

Think of happiness on a continuum with lack of happiness on the other end, sadness on a continuum with lack of sadness on the other end, and so forth. Experiencing happiness doesn’t necessarily make you less sad — The Barenaked Ladies kew this: “I’m the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral.”Keep Reading

You sit down in a restaurant, the server comes over and asks what’ll you have. “I would like a double bacon cheeseburger, please. I prefer my fermented milk on top of pig on top of cow on top of cow.” Then the server replies, “No problem, hun’. Just put together this 5,000 piece puzzle Minimalist Sand Dune and I’ll have your order right out.”

Wait what?

That hopefully sounds absurd. You’d never stand for that. “I’ll eat my heart attack somewhere else!” you might yell. But we do stand for that. We put 5,000+ piece puzzles between ourselves and things we want every day, and we don’t even realize we’re doing it.Keep Reading