Removing Barriers to Entry

There are a couple of reasons why I love this 10% Happier podcast conversation with Cory Muscara so much. 

It's refreshing to hear from teachers outside the mindfulness talking circuit. Most podcast conversations function as book promotions. I get it. Publication is a great way to make sure guests already have a solid reputation and a substantial following. What gets missed are teachers who are developing both and coming up with effective insights and strategies along the way.

I hope Dan's pleasant surprise, in this case, will lead to similar booking risks in the future. He already takes risks by inviting meditators who aren't teachers. I would also appreciate the opportunity to discover contemplatives who are fascinating without being famous. Just as he and Jeff Warren discovered on their meditation road trip, a lot of ordinary people are developing attentional skills without drawing much attention to themselves. I guess what I really value the most about this podcast is the blend of skepticism and curiosity.

It's always invigorating to discover a kindred spirit. Cory's background is very different from mine – plus he's so impressively credentialed – but his teaching insights really resonate. Anyone who has attended one of my sessions will recognize the common ground. We're both interested in exploring practical applications of mindfulness that fit the way most people live right now.  

Practicing a mindfulness exercise is simple. It just means shifting your awareness to ordinary perceptions now and then. 

The challenge comes when you try to remember to do this more often. And the only way to really experience the potential benefits of the practice is to make it habitual. 

My recommendation to beginners is to shoot for more than zero minutes most days.

I'm not joking. I don't say this to give people an easy out. It's surprisingly difficult to remember to do it. Not because we don't have time, but because we really resist setting aside our problem solving and internal storytelling even for a handful of seconds.  

I love how Cory describes navigating this barrier to entry into mindfulness practice. I hope you'll find time to listen to the whole conversation. To find out more about Cory Muscara's work, text your email address to (917) 983-0105. 

Cory Muscara: There are going to be different levels of how this work is beneficial for someone.

You can make the argument that going away for ten years and living in a cave is going to be the most beneficial if you're on the path to enlightenment. It's like, Are you going to do that? Probably not.

Well, then, maybe an hour a day. Are you going to do that? Most people? Probably not.

Maybe twenty minutes a day? Maybe not.

Maybe taking a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course? Maybe. Yeah. That'd be good. Are you going to do it? Maybe not. 

Maybe listening to ten minutes of this guy talking about basic meditation practices on Dr. Oz. Is that going to do it?

If that's the thing that allows you to maybe be open to the idea of mindfulness, and then ten years down the road that's the memory that was there – oh, I saw that and I'm kind of into it – then I think, Great. 

It's not for everyone at every point in time and I can't give my whole pitch about why I think this work is important in a seven-minute segment interview...

Even though you can tell people that they don't need to do this for an hour a day, they still having this feeling that [twenty or thirty minutes would also be an unrealistic commitment]. 

So if you wake up in the morning and the thought is, Oh, I have to do twenty minutes of meditation a day. If you came right off of a workshop or a retreat and you're really inspired, you're probably going to do that twenty minutes. But after a couple weeks of that, it's like, Twenty minutes of meditation OR I could hit the snooze button OR I could watch an episode of Modern Family, you're probably going to start choosing the latter [options] after a certain point in time. 

That in itself becomes a barrier to entry. The cost of opting in, for many people, is too much. The opportunity cost is too great. 

So what I have been telling people if they find themselves in that category, that camp of, I can't do thirty minutes, I can't do twenty minutes...Then just commit to one minute. 

Why? Do I think one minute is going to be the thing that changes your life? It could be really powerful, but what I love about one minute is that it's a very low-cost option. Very few barriers to entry, because if you start saying, Oh, I don't have a minute to meditate, we've really got to start evaluating some things going on in your life, because you definitely need more than meditation if you make that argument. 

It's hard to argue yourself out of it. 

And now, if you've got somebody that wakes up in the morning, it's like, Alright, what if I just did one minute? Usually what happens is that people get to the end of one minute and they go, You know what? This kind of feels good. Let me do two minutes. Then they do two minutes, then three.

You can see what happens. You go from one to two to three to four to five. But what's key there is you go from the space of arguing yourself out of meditation to actually arguing yourself into it.