After my first book was published, many people asked me if I was going to write another book. The experience of writing a book had been amazing, but also very time consuming. That is why writing a second book was in the back of my head as something I wanted to do at a later stage of my life. But already at the end of spring, around five months after my first book was published, I got a new idea that I simply couldn’t let go off…
The idea came from my own experience with meditation. Around ten years ago, I didn’t really know what meditation was, but I was 100% sure that it wasn’t for me. Why the f*ck would I sit down, close my eyes, and do nothing? In my head, it was the most ridiculous thing in the world. Now, less than a decade later, I have written a book about the benefits of meditation, called: Why the f*ck would I meditate?
This understandably raises a lot of questions. That is why the rest of this blog post will be in the form of an interview. Ben Killingsworth, one of my best friends and the reviewer of my book, asked me questions about the book and my personal experience with meditation. I also want to take this opportunity to thank Ben for reviewing the book. And this is a thank you on behalf of myself and all readers, because without your help people would have had to struggle through many of my grammar mistakes and the book would have been for the sceptics (UK English) instead of the skeptics (US English).
Let’s start with the most obvious question: Why did you write a book about meditation?
I basically wrote the book that I looked for myself but couldn’t find anywhere. For most of my life, I thought that meditation was pointless. But the more I got interested in the psychology of happiness, the more I got exposed to it. Many inspiring figures, from world-class athletes to famous entrepreneurs, attribute a big part of their success to meditation. At some point, there was simply no way to ignore these acknowledgements anymore. That’s when I started to read scientific research on meditation and its benefits. It completely changed my view and led me to try out meditation for myself. I was still skeptical, but to my own surprise, I started to actually enjoy it when I noticed the benefits it brought to my life.
Meditation intrigued me because I had been so wrong about it. I have gone from being opposed and ignorant about meditation to now meditating daily. And I noticed that almost everyone around me has the exact same misconceptions about meditation that I had before my research and personal experience. For more than a year, I had been looking for a book on meditation that was written for skeptics, but all I could find were fluffy and spiritual books that I couldn’t relate to. That’s why I decided to write it myself, so that others can benefit from it.
And what made you think that you were the right person to write this book?
Well, to be honest, initially I didn’t think that I was the right person to write the book. I was convinced that there was a need for this type of book, but I don’t consider myself an expert on the topic. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this book didn’t need to be written by an expert. I could go through the scientific research myself and create the exact book that I was looking for two years ago: written for skeptics, by a former skeptic who understands the reader.
You can compare it with learning a new language. If you for example want to learn Spanish, you can’t just go up to anyone in Spain or Latin America and start talking. You need someone who can speak both Spanish and a language you know. In the beginning, you’re probably better off with someone for whom Spanish is not his or her native language, because this person will understand the elements that you might be struggling with. Later, when you get all the basics, you might want to further optimize your Spanish by talking to native speakers.
After having done a lot of research, I understand the basics and benefits of meditation. Furthermore, I know the main misconceptions people have and the challenges with making it a daily routine. And that is exactly what I’m sharing in the book. If you want to go in more detail and learn more about all different types of meditation, there are countless other sources of information.
When did you start meditating?
I meditated on and off for well over a year before I got a paid subscription to one of the online meditation apps. From that moment, in the beginning of June 2017, I have meditated daily.
Which app or apps do you use?
I tried a couple of apps, especially in the beginning, but now I only use Headspace. That is the only app for which I have a paid subscription. It is the most popular meditation app in the world, mainly thanks to the great variety of online guided meditations. It also has some nice features that allow you to track your progress. It is super simple, but it shows how many days you have meditated in a row. When you have built up a nice streak, you want to make sure that you meditate again the next day so you don’t have to start over.
Can you describe your normal meditation practice? Where and when do you meditate?
I meditate 10 minutes a day, usually at home straight after work. Sometimes even during my lunch break if I have something else planned after work. I sit on a normal chair, with my eyes closed, and go through a guided meditation from Headspace. Many people meditate in the mornings, but I go to the gym in the morning and feel that meditation benefits me more if I do it later in the day.
How long did it take you to experience the positive effects?
That is a good question. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when you experience the positive effects, but I believe that for me it was almost instantly. As explained in the book, research suggests that some benefits are more long term, which means that it can take around two months to experience, while other benefits are proven to be experienced within the firsts days.
Do you have any tips for anyone who wants to meditate for the first time?
My main tip would be to read the book. It is very short, so it won’t take too much time. Knowing the basics and benefits of meditation will help you to increase your motivation and in the final chapter there are some important insights and tips on how to get started and making meditation a daily habit.