30-day Meditation Challenge

This challenge was launched after Vesak in Year 2021 and held on Telegram. The following is a compilation of resources and daily prompts that we sent over the 30 days. You may choose to consume them according to what you need, or conduct your mini 30-day challenge with a few friends using these curated contents.

Hope you’ll find them useful and stay mindful!

Welcome!

Hey there! 👋

Welcome to this 30-day challenge !

Congratulations on making an effort to cultivate your mind! 

By joining this 30-day challenge is a great first step.

New to meditation? Don’t worry. We’ll be sharing some recommended resources and guided audio to get you moving. To get started, read: https://handfulofleaves.life/get-started-with-meditation/

Recommended meditation app (FREE): https://insighttimer.com/

Available on iOS and android. 

Day 1: Find your ‘Why’

Before you set yourself a goal on how long to meditate daily, first, clarify your purpose.

Why do you want to meditate in the first place? Don’t settle with a generic answer such as “to find peace”. Dig deeper into what is at stake if you do not meditate and paint a vivid picture of how your life would change for the better if you do. Your motivation won’t be 100% the same as others. So, own it. 

If ever meditation feels like a chore to you, recollecting why you started in the first place will be incredibly helpful to keep you going. And when you truly internalise and experience the benefits of meditation, it will become an integral habit – just like brushing your teeth. 

Challenge for today, fill in the blanks below and paste it at a visible location to remind you daily about your “WHY”. 

I’ve chosen to meditate daily even if [ describe potential that can get in the way ]. And I’m doing this because [ describe why it matters to you ]. 

Recommended guided meditation: 

Basic Body scan and breath awareness by Tara Brach

Duration: 11 minutes

Day 2: Reflect on your meditation experience

Can’t seem to empty your mind? It’s normal!
A successful meditation is not just about how long you sit or how quiet your mind is. 

A successful meditation session is one that you have learnt something from – something that can help free you from the causes of dissatisfaction.

We recommend taking a few minutes after each meditation to reflect on your experience. 

This allows you to grow your awareness and grow as a person. 

Here’s a downloadable reflection template for you: Download now

Recommended guided meditation: 

The RAIN of Self-Compassion by Tara Brach

Duration: 11 minutes

Day 3: Dedicate a mindful corner

The physical setup of a space has the power to prime our minds for formal mindfulness practice. 

Here are 3 tips to create your own mindful corner:

  1. Free the clutter. The environment we create is a reflection of our state of mind. Vice versa!
  2. Free the distraction. Distant yourself from TV, computer, bed, or anything that can cause you to lose focus. 
  3. Make it comfortable (but not too comfortable!). Positive association to the space can help attract you to the practice and make it joyful. 

Do you have a dedicated place at your home to meditate? Snap a picture and tag us on Instagram or Facebook!

Recommended guided meditation: 

Basic instruction to listening by Luang Por Viradhammo 

Duration: 10 minutes

Day 4: Recognising thought patterns

Meditation is about understanding yourselves and nature, so that you can adopt skilful measures to change your life for the better. Daily experiences interactions have effects on our mind; our formal meditation experiences have effects on our daily experiences. 

A moment to reflect:  

Did you recognise any patterns? 

What are the causes of your peace/restlessness? 

How did meditation contribute to your happiness in the day? 

Recommended guided meditation: 

Mental Noting by Charles Freligh, PhD

Duration: 15 minutes

Day 5: The attitudes of mindfulness 

Jon Kabat-Zinn, shares the attitudes that create a strong foundation for mindfulness practice.

  1. Non-judging 
  2. Patience 
  3. Beginners’ mind 
  4. Trust
  5. Non-striving 
  6. Letting go
  7. Acceptance
  8. Gratitude 
  9. Generosity  

Watch this 3-minute introductory clip:

In the next few days, we’ll be sharing guided meditation tracks based on these themes. 

Today’s guided meditation is by Jon Kabat-Zinn himself.
Duration: 10 minutes.

Day 6: Attitude of Non-judging

Liking and disliking;

Wanting and not wanting.

Our minds are constantly swinging between these two extremes, with tons of judgements playing in the background. Listen to Jon Kabat-Zinn about the right way to cultivate a non-judging mind in order to not be imprisoned by our thoughts. 

Recommended guided meditation: 

The judging mind by Joseph Goldstein

Duration: 11.5 minutes

Day 7: The attitude of Patience 

Are you missing the present moment because of impatience?

Here’s a 2-minute reflection on how to cultivate patience and its benefits.

Recommended guided meditation

Finding peace through patience by Amy Pattee Colvin

Duration: 12 minutes

Day 8: The Beginners’ mind

How is your meditation practice going?

Meditation can seem boring after sometime, or we might think we know all about meditation already. Jon Kabat-Zinn shares how a beginners’ mind can help us find novelty in every moment to keep the practice interesting, and to grow in wisdom.

Recommended guided meditation: 

Simply begin again by Joseph Goldstein

Duration: 8 minutes

Day 9: Trust 

Do you trust yourself and your ability to overcome the challenges in life?

Watch this 3 minute interview about how the attitude of trust can be cultivated in meditation and help us in our daily lives. 

Recommended guided meditation: 

Trust in self and others (mantra and movement meditation) by Ashley Brodeur 

Duration: 8.5 minutes

Day 10: Non-striving

Are you trying to get something out of your meditation? To stop thinking, to feel peaceful, to experience this or that?

Watch this 2-minute clip about the beauty of letting things unfold naturally and letting go of the doing-mind:

Recommended guided meditation: 

Let go by Ajahn Amaro

Duration: 19 minutes

Day 11: Letting go 

Brain Research shows the hardest thing for the brain to do, is to let go of thoughts. 

“If we find it particularly difficult to let go of something because it has such a strong hold over our mind, we can direct our attention to what “holding on” feels like. Holding on is the opposite of letting go. We can become an expert on our own attachments, whatever they may be and their consequences in our lives, as well as how it feels in those moments when we finally do let go and what the consequences of that are. Being willing to look at the ways we hold on ultimately shows us a lot about the experience of its opposite. So whether we are “successful” at letting go or not, mindfulness continues to teach us if we are willing to look.” Credit: G Ross Clark

Watch this 4-minute clip about letting go:

Recommended guided meditation: 

Letting go by Bhante Sujatha 

Duration: 6 minutes

Day 12: Acceptance 

Put the welcome mat for pain and unpleasant feelings! Jon Kabat-zinn shares how he teaches patients who are dealing with chronic pain: 

Recommended guided meditation:

Acceptance by Bhante Sujatha

Duration: 4 minutes 

Day 13: Gratitude and generosity 

Wrapping up the series “attitudes for meditation” by Jon Kabat-zinn with gratitude and generosity. He shares how these qualities are interconnected and seeing things as they really are:

Recommended guided meditation today: 

Gratitude for the miracle breath and body by Dr Elise Bialylew

Duration: 14 minutes

Day 14: Lost in thoughts?

“Ugh! I can’t seem to quiet my mind!!!” If you’ve thought of giving up meditation because you ‘failed’ to free your mind of thoughts… don’t! Because there’s victory of being lost in thoughts. 

Watch this 3-minute interview with Joseph Goldstein about reframing the experience of a restless mind:

Recommended guided meditation: 

A meditation for patience and resolve by Mark Bertin

Duration: 18 minutes

Day 15: Daydreaming 

If you’re struggling to keep up with any of the meditation techniques, you may consider a practice of doing nothing. Simply put, just let the mind do its thing and watch it. You might notice that it’s easy for the mind to start to daydream. How do we deal with that?


Here’s a 3-minute clip that answers the question:

Recommended guided meditation: 

Place attention to the nature of your mind with Vinny Ferraro

Duration: 14 minutes 

Day 16: Morning and evening ritual

We’re halfway there! How has your meditation practice been?

Again, if you’ve missed a day, it’s completely fine. Start again, even if it’s as little as three mindful breaths. 

Hot tips: 

  1. Remind yourself why you’ve started in the first place 
  2. Lower your goals to make it easier to overachieve it (for boost in motivation)
  3. Set a specific period in the day for the practice. E.g. before breakfast/ before bed. 

Recommended guided meditation by Jonathan Lehmann:

Buddha Morning: https://insig.ht/hZl8CxEDsgb

Buddha Evening: https://insig.ht/QkAn2Rf7qgb

Day 17: Is meditation working?

Meditation isn’t about clocking the hours on the cushion! How do you know if you are progressing? 

Use these simple yardsticks: 

  1. Has my greed, aversion, and ignorance reduced?
  2. Have I become responsive rather than reactive to situations?
  3. Has my overall stress level reduced?

Recommended guided meditation by Tara Brach: Vipassana (insight) meditation

Day 18: Staying present when it feels unbearable

Not all days are filled with rainbows and sunshine. Do you run away from reality or face it with courage? In this 15-minute clip, Thich Nhat Hahn shares a sustainable way to deal with painful feelings that might be unbearable:

Recommended guided meditation: 

Transforming Difficult Emotions by Patty Hlava, Ph.D. (AwakenPeace Healing)

Duration: 15 minutes

Day 19: Practising with unpleasant emotions 

In this short teaching video from the Deer Park Monastery (February, 2004), Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) guides us on how to take care of emotions when they come up. Every time a painful feeling is born, we go home and take good care of our feelings with the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness here is like a mother coming to hold and embrace the pain that is crying out to us. This is the practice of love: telling our painful emotions, “Darling I know you suffer. That is why I am here for you.” Credit: Plum Village

Today, we recommended two guided meditation tracks. You can choose to meditate with either depending on the time you have:

Leaning into discomfort by Sharon
Duration: 9.5 minutes

Mindfulness Meditation For Stress And Worry by Hugh Byrne

Duration: 29 minutes

Day 20: Meditation is not a cure for all

In this journey of life, we all come with different baggage, some heavier than others. We have to acknowledge our own limitations and be open to seeking and receiving help to lighten the load. Sometimes, meditation is just not the right support at the moment. 

Read more in this article by Cheryl Cheah about “3 Things I Wished I Knew Before Starting Meditation”

Recommended guided reflection by Charles (PhD in Clinical Psychology): Caring for your inner child

Duration: 13.5 minutes

Day 21: Introduction to Loving-kindness meditation

Does the thought of Loving-kindness make you squirm? You’re not alone. Is it because love and kindness seems to be the polar opposites of courage and success? Dan Harris and Sharon Salzberg discusses this in this 7 minute clip:

Recommended guided meditation: Loving kindness by Sharon salzberg

Duration: 15 minutes 

Day 22: Opening of the heart

In this chaotic and trying times, we could all do with more goodwill. While spreading thoughts of goodness to others, remember you deserve loving-kindness too! 

Recommended guided meditation today is by Tara Brach: Loving this life; metta meditation

Duration: 16.5 minutes

Day 23: Sending goodwill to those whom we feel don’t deserve. 

When you’re practising metta meditation, recognise that it is okay to struggle with sending thoughts of good will towards some people. Especially to those whom you dislike and those who hurt you. Recognise your emotional capacity and wish yourself well. Then, when you’re ready, set the wholesome intention to free your heart from enmity little by little. 

Recommended guided meditation:  “Just like me” by Miraibi Bush

Duration: 8 minutes

Day 24: Overcoming the 5 hindrances 

You must have met these 5 common ‘folks’ during your meditation.
1. Sensory desire: wanting pleasure through the five senses (yes, fidgeting is part of wanting).

2. Ill-will: enmity towards oneself or others.

3. Sloth-and-torpor: laziness and the lack of energy/effort.

4. Restlessness: mind filled with thoughts.

5. Doubt: questioning the meditation experience with a lack of trust.

 
Master Shi Heng Yi, a Shaolin monk, described these different mental states and how they cloud our minds to make the right decisions in life. 

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vir-2o5A_o

Recommended guided meditation: the 5 hindrances.

Duration: 15 minutes

Day 25: Accessing inner wisdom

“How can I feel good all the time if everything is changing?”

Watch Master Shi Heng Yi’s reply: 

Recommended guided meditation: Strengthen the access to your inner wisdom by Dr Karolien Notebaert

Duration: 14 minutes

Day 26: How to cope with stress

Million-dollar question for lay practitioners: Is it okay to look forward to the binging Netflix series to de-stress?

Dan Harris talks to Jeff Warren about how to cope with stress and to begin where we are. 

Watch this 24-minute interview with practical advice:

Recommended guided meditation: 

Mindfulness Practice For Stress Reduction by Beth Kurland, Ph.D.

Duration: 22 minutes

Day 27: Dealing with work stress

Thought of throwing in the towel due to stress? Here Timber Hawkeye gave a beautiful answer to a friend’s question about whether she should quit her job: 

Recommended guided meditation: Visualisation for stress elimination

Duration: 6 minutes

Day 28: Staying Present

Two more days to go! 

Have you been planning what to do next? 

Or have you been looking back at the past with thoughts of “what if?” “I should have”?

Planning and revisiting the history are essential for us to lead our lives. 

But if we are caught up with too much thinking, we won’t be able to enjoy the present moment. 

Staying present is an ongoing practice, explains Eckhart, which can be supported in ways that include following the breath, becoming aware of sensations in the body, and by cultivating “the Observer”. Watch this video:

Recommended guided meditation: Breath meditation by Luang Por Viradhammo

11 minutes

Day 29: Mindfulness in daily life 

One more day left to this challenge! You’ve come this far, and what’s most important is to integrate this meditation practice into your working life and personal life. 

With the demands of modern times, it can be difficult to live a life that feels truly balanced. Scientist and author Jon Kabat-Zinn says mindfulness can be a vital tool in cutting through the noise of daily life.

Watch: “Mindfulness Ιn Everyday Life” Jon Kabat Zinn with Oprah Winfrey

Recommended guided meditation: Walking meditation by Tara Brach

Duration: 7 minutes

Day 30: Continuing the practice

Last day! As we come to the end of this challenge, take a moment to celebrate the efforts you’ve put into cultivating your mind. Even if you did not meditate for all 30 days, meditating for a day is better than none at all. Meditating for 1 minute or just one mindful breath is better than none. So give yourself some credit! 

You may continue to keep up with this daily habit or make it a weekly affair. Important note is that meditation is not just when you sit on the cushion. The mind finds itself in all postures and in all activities. 

Today, we are closing off with these two recommendations: 

  1. Listen to this 10-minutes recording of Ajahn Dhammasiha about integrating meditation into daily life.
  2. Fill in this Daily mindfulness habit tracker (Template)

  • Download here
    You may use this to keep yourself accountable of the habits you want to build. And take 2 minutes daily, to jot down your reflection. See the image above as an example.
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    What are your thoughts?

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