Episode 137: How to start meditating and why you should do it – with Josh Schmidt

You may have dabbled with meditation but found it difficult to start a practice that you can consistently maintain over time.  So how do you make it part of your routine?  And what are the benefits in doing so?

Josh Schmidt is a life coach who uses principles from meditation and yoga to help his clients engage in their work and life in a more meaningful and fulfilling way.

He explains how mediation can help you, how you can get started with mediation, and the techniques you can use to maintain your mediation practice.

Today’s guest

Josh Schmidt

Website: Josh Schmidt Coaching

YouTube: Josh Schmidt

Email: js.meditationcoach@gmail.com

Instagram: Josh By Nature

Facebook: Josh Schmidt Coaching

LinkedIn: Josh Schmidt

Josh Schmidt is a Life and Meditation Coach who helps others to explore different ways of being and engaging with life in ways that create wellbeing.  Josh has been practising meditation for the last decade and has experienced many benefits of meditation first-hand.  He believes that it is an incredibly practical tool – not just so that we are better able to deal with stress, anxiety, and life’s challenges but to actually create ways of being that encourage us to support us in getting what we most desire in life.  Because it’s not what we think we are that defines us, it’s how we are that determines what we’ll go on to do and achieve.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • [1:45] How meditation helped Josh sleep as a child.
  • [2:45] What made Josh combine meditation with yoga.
  • [4:34] The practical nature of meditation that Josh teaches.
  • [6:11] What meditation is and why it’s helpful.
  • [9:09] The benefits of meditation and how they can be measured.
  • [12:32] The difference between mindfulness mediation and mantra meditation.
  • [14:49] The possibility of separating meditation and religion.
  • [16:59] How to make spiritual terms accessible to atheists.
  • [20:03] The difference between guided meditation and self-practice.
  • [24:04] What meditation classes involve and the two principles of meditation.
  • [29:24] Why people quit meditation after a short time.
  • [33:00] How to find the right meditation teacher for you.
  • [36:10] How much time you should spend meditating each day.
  • [39:24] What to do if you don’t have time to meditate.
  • [42:36] How to quickly improve your meditation practice.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

Episode 137: How to start meditating and why you should do it - with Josh Schmidt

Jeremy Cline 0:00
If you've ever looked into ways that you can improve your physical and mental wellbeing, chances are you've come across the idea of meditation, and maybe you know people who can tell you the benefits that they've achieved as a result of having a meditation practice. But how can meditation help you? What are the benefits? How can you get started? And perhaps more importantly, how can you keep it going and build it into a practice, rather than something that you just give up after a couple of weeks? That's what we're going to talk about in this week's episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.

Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, where we're all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. We've talked on the podcast before about mindfulness, and some of you may have listened to Episode 131 with Angel Shannon, where we talked about what it means to be mindful and some of the benefits of doing so. One of the practices associated with mindfulness is meditation. And this week, we're going to find out a bit more about what meditation is, what are its benefits, and how you can get started. To help us, I'm delighted to be joined this week by Josh Schmidt. Josh is a life coach who uses principles from meditation and yoga to help his clients engage with their working life in a more meaningful and fulfilling way. Josh, welcome to the podcast.

Josh Schmidt 1:37
Thank you.

Jeremy Cline 1:37
So, first off, what was it that got you into meditation in the first place?

Josh Schmidt 1:42
I don't know where to begin. My whole life has been leading me to this point, I suppose. The first time that I can actually remember meditating was back in middle or high school, funny enough. I used to have a very hard time falling asleep as a kid. I don't know if it was just evening anxiety, I was kind of a shy kid, I didn't necessarily like going to school, and I remember, before the first day of school, I would just be up all night. And my mom taught me a very practical form of meditation called a body scan, which is just checking in with your body from head to toe, and asking it to relax, really just tuning in to the sensation of your body lying in bed. And it was a really effective tool that I used throughout my childhood to help me relax, unwind, and get to sleep more easily in the evening. So, that was my first kind of touch or taste of experience of meditation. But then in college, I took a yoga class, and it was a pretty modern, classical yoga class that you would find at a gym or a yoga studio. And we learned a little bit of the philosophy in that. And it was something that I kind of just bookmarked for later. I was like, this is a really interesting thing, I like what this is getting at, I liked some of the principles of this, and I also liked the way that yoga made me feel. So, a little bit later in life, I ended up getting a yoga teacher certification, and through that process, I learned more about, like I said, the philosophy of it, and that meditation seemed to be a cornerstone of yoga, but in the teacher training, we learned absolutely nothing about. I mean, we maybe spent a half hour on meditation in the whole time. So, it really just whet my palate, all of this really just whet my palate to learn more about it. And I found a teacher, who's also a life coach, a counsellor, and he's many things, but for me, he's a mentor. And he's the one who taught me the meditation that I now share with other individuals. And this is about seven or eight years ago that I met him up in the Boston area.

Jeremy Cline 4:02
You have literally just reminded me that it was probably my mother who also introduced me to something which could be called meditation, also when I was having trouble sleeping, and I think she gave me the exercise, similar to your body scan, just tensing one part of your body and then relaxing it, and then moving on to the next one and then relaxing it. So, there you go, the wisdom of mothers and meditation. I hadn't thought about that for years. So, thank you for that reminder. So, how has this led on to life coaching for you?

Josh Schmidt 4:34
Meditation in isolation is really not that useful. I'm not someone who wants to get good at meditation for meditation sake. I don't want to be a monk, I have no interest in going off into the Himalayas and meditating for the rest of my life and reaching some kind of enlightenment or nirvana or something like that. I mean, the reason that I was attracted to meditation and yoga is because it seemed to be practical, it seemed to be useful in life as it is, regardless of what your life is. And the reason that I want to share this with other people is because I have found it incredibly practical, not just as, like I said, a tool in isolation, where I can go for 20-30 minutes every day and find centre or find a sense of peace. Because that's not always what happens in my meditation. It's not always peaceful. Sometimes I have stressful thoughts that come up repeatedly. What I found so useful about meditation specifically and yoga is that these things are practical and can be applied to your daily life. And it's really a way of showing up, way of being that is more effective and really less stressful, more enjoyable ways of being.

Jeremy Cline 5:57
I don't know if this question is in any way fair, but is it possible to define what is meditation? If someone says to you, what is meditation, what's the sort of short, if there is one answer?

Josh Schmidt 6:10
Yeah, absolutely. And I think we really need a definition for meditation. Because right now, I mean, you go on Google, and you say, how do I meditate, and you're going to get a slew of different answers. And to be honest with you, I found it really confusing at first, when I first started trying to get my foot in the door with this whole meditation thing. I found myself struggling a lot. Mostly, because the information out there that I was finding was not definitive. It was kind of like meditation can be anything, you can have a walking meditation, you can do meditation while you're running or doing the dishes or whatever, watching TV, right? Now, these all can be a meditation. And it just didn't really make a lot of sense to me. Because on the one hand, I was thinking, okay, meditation seems to be something that you do in quiet, seated, cross legged, with these mudras, with these hand formations, it seems like people are blissed out. And on the other hand, I'm getting all of this kind of information from the internet saying that meditation can be anything. So, what is it? So, what am I supposed to be doing here with my mind? What I use as a definition, it's any formal practice that uses shifts of attention to help train your mind-body in some way, your mind-body, all one thing. So, in meditation, you may be familiar, you mentioned mindfulness, that could be one form of meditation, mindfulness meditation as a form of meditation. It's using shifts of attention to train the mind-body. Transcendental meditation is another form that you may have heard of. Again, same thing, using shifts of attention to help train the mind-body. Vipassana, insight meditation, these are all different forms of meditation that use shifts of attention to help train your mind-body in a certain way.

Jeremy Cline 8:07
And when you say train your mind-body, train your mind-body to do what?

Josh Schmidt 8:12
To let go of stressful thoughts, and to be better able to tune in to what it is that you'd actually prefer to focus on. Our attention, as you probably know, is a pretty incredible tool in a way. And what we put our attention on in life, we seem to get more of that thing. I don't know if you've ever had the experience of getting a new pair of shoes or a new backpack or a new phone, and you think it's like this very unique thing, and then all of a sudden, you make this purchase, you have it in your possession, and you start noticing that everyone else has it.

Jeremy Cline 8:49
It's cars for me, whenever I buy a new car, then suddenly everyone's driving the same car.

Josh Schmidt 8:54
I remember that happening, again, when I was a kid, my parents got a new minivan, and it was like this great new minivan, and the colour was supposed to be so unique. And then, I swear, I must have seen 100 of them in the first weekend. I guess that's just the way it goes. So, our attention is this really powerful tool, but I think a lot of us, honestly, we don't have a lot of control over it. It kind of has control over us, we end up ruminating on things that we may find stressful, or we may not really need to or may actually be keeping us stuck, or keeping us from reaching things that we really would like to see happen in our life.

Jeremy Cline 9:33
So, I think you've just touched on it, but how would you describe what the benefits are of meditation, and not just what the benefits are, but how you notice the benefits, maybe even how you internally measure the benefits?

Josh Schmidt 9:48
That's a great question. And it is difficult, isn't it? Because it's such a subjective experience. Yeah, well, we can talk about the benefits of meditation in a couple of different ways, because there are physiological benefits of meditation. And maybe, these are probably the ones that are a little bit more familiar, right? With a sustained and consistent meditation practice, typically people experience less stress. Well, what does that mean? A slower heart rate, ability to go to sleep a little bit easier at night, improved digestion, better immune system functioning. But then, those are all like the physiological benefits of it. And again, all of these benefits, the only way they really get these benefits is if we're practising it consistently. Now, over time, as we continue to practice, the actual way in which we show up and engage with our life can change. And this is where I say, it's not so much about meditation in isolation that is a benefit, but it's actually bringing these principles of how we practice meditation into our life, where we really start to notice a difference. Because the way in which we're showing up and engaging in our life is going to determine a lot of things, how we feel about it, what our thoughts are about it, and ultimately, what action we decide to take, or not to take, given the circumstances that we're in. So, how would we notice the benefits? I mean, for me, it was very slow and gradual. It wasn't like I started meditating, and then after the six-month mark, my life was completely different. It's almost difficult to notice, in a way, because it happens so gradually, it's almost like an hourglass, you don't really necessarily notice, if you're just taking a peek right at the centre portion, you wouldn't necessarily notice how much sand is coming from the top to the bottom. But all of a sudden, all of the sand is in the bottom, and you take a look down, you're like, 'Wow, this is quite a bit different.' I guess one way that you would notice, you'd notice if you're on the right track with meditation, if you've felt like you were less reactive to things, if you felt like you were better able to respond from a place of calm or stability, of balance, rather than just kind of, I don't know, exploding, or reacting out of habit, or past patterns.

Jeremy Cline 12:15
You mentioned a few moments ago, lots of different types of meditation, and you said transcendental meditation is one. What's the difference, broadly speaking, between all these different types of meditation? Are they trying to achieve different things?

Josh Schmidt 12:33
I mean, I think they do get slightly different results, sure. It's hard for me to speak to it, because I've really followed one, I shouldn't say just one. I guess I kind of started with mindfulness meditation, which I would consider more of letting go of focus, of being more in the present moment, of maybe tuning into physical sensations or audible sensations in your experience and letting go of thoughts and consistently coming back into this present experience. That was my entry point into it. And pretty shortly, maybe after the first year or so of practising that way, I found my teacher, and what I practice now is a form of mantra meditation. And it's kind of in the same vein of transcendental meditation. But what it is, I would say the focus is slightly more on tuning into certain aspects of your experience, rather than letting go of others. Both of them, both of the practices, all practices of meditation will include this cycle, these two kinds of actions of meditation, letting go of distraction thoughts, letting go of things that are kind of outside of what we want to focus on, and then tuning in to what it is that we do want to focus on. So, that action of release, and that action of seeking or focusing or attending to, if that makes sense. So, yeah, I guess I can't really speak to the differences of the results that you would get from practising one or the other. I know what the results are for my practice, or at least what I've experienced so far in my practising of it.

Jeremy Cline 14:19
Meditation seems to me often to have some kind of a religious connotation, often Buddhism. And I've heard in the brief exploration I've done, there's references to things like chakras and third eyes and that sort of thing, which I don't really understand. Does it always have this sort of religious and/or spiritual element to it?

Josh Schmidt 14:49
That's a beautiful question. I think it depends on who you ask. Because there's certainly some folks, I think Sam Harris would be one of them, who would kind of more easily be able to separate the two and say that meditation does not have to be religious or spiritual at all. It's actually very scientific, it's very straightforward, everything is definable, and we can measure all of these aspects of meditation. And, again, the physiological benefits, or the brain chemistry responses that happens, all this kind of stuff. I personally, I mean, all of that stuff is spiritual in a way. I mean, just the life, it's hard to define. And it's really, I don't know, I want to say magical. I mean, it's really just incredible. Just being able to live, I mean, if we start talking about consciousness, it's hard to talk about it in just a scientific, non-spiritual way, in a sense. If we talk about life in a very just biological, science-oriented way, we can talk about it and define it in certain ways, and it gives us access to understanding it in a certain way. But if we bring in a spiritual element to it, well, I don't even know, I mean, how do we define spirituality and religion, versus the science of it, or like the hard facts, or the cold reality of it? I guess I have a hard time answering that question.

Jeremy Cline 16:20
Maybe to put it another way, let's say that you've got someone who is by nature atheist, not of any particular religion, and any reference to things which are sort of otherworldly, like third eyes and chakras and things like that, they have a certain degree of cynicism of that sort of thing. Is there a version of meditation, or are there versions of meditation, which someone with that kind of outlook will be able to get behind and will have benefits from?

Josh Schmidt 16:59
Yeah, I think so. I think Sam Harris is one of them. He is someone who's very much kind of science forward and is not into the woowoo of meditation. And there's, like you said, there's plenty of teachers out there that are more spiritual in terms of meditation. I have a hard time separating them personally. I would consider myself spiritual, I don't necessarily align with a specific religion. I mean, I see kind of certain themes that I appreciate about all of them, or many of the religions that I have studied at least a little bit of, or read of. But yeah, I guess like the chakras, the energy system, I mean, we have different ways of discussing them. I think we had these almost like the Greek had their mythology, and the Romans had their mythology. It's like they create these gods to give meaning to what's going on in nature. We create these spiritual or religious things, these things that are bigger, are outside of ourselves, are bigger than us, or maybe they even include us too, as a way of understanding our world. And when chakras or third eyes or all this stuff was being discussed, I mean, I don't think we had a tonne of knowledge about the inner workings of our bodies, the actual physiology of our bodies. So, the energy systems, or the chakras, or the third eye, that kind of stuff, I mean, we can measure it in different ways, we can we can talk about it scientifically, we can talk about it like the vagus nerve and different energy points in our body, or we can talk about them as chakras. They're just kind of different ways of accessing that or for creating meaning for that, if that makes sense.

Jeremy Cline 18:58
Okay, that's interesting that you sort of, I think what I'm hearing is you kind of define it and describe it through your own lens. So, it's sort of whatever is your outlook, you might be describing the same thing, it's just that the description will be different, depending on your perspective.

Josh Schmidt 19:16
I think that's a great way to say it, yeah.

Jeremy Cline 19:19
When it comes to the practice itself, obviously it's something that you can do in a group, it's something that you can do by yourself. If you do it by yourself, you could do it in a guided way. So, you could have a YouTube video that's talking you through things or something on an app. Or you could just be sitting by yourself in a quiet room and doing whatever it is you do. Can you talk to the differences between those approaches, and whether there's any particular benefits or drawbacks of any of those different types?

Josh Schmidt 20:01
Yeah, absolutely. I would say, if you're really serious about wanting to receive the benefits of meditation, and really knowing what meditation is, you really have to understand how to meditate, you have to understand a certain style of meditation, and you have to be practising consistently, like I said, every day. And I would be doing that without assistance. So, at least without a guided meditation, I'm not saying that you can't go to a meditation circle or a group or go to group classes and stuff like that. I think that's actually very useful. I actually recommend anyone who wants to learn meditation to find a teacher, because it is incredibly difficult to learn meditation from a book or an app or a website or guided meditations, it's incredibly difficult to actually understand what you should be doing. Because with guided meditation, what I notice, the pattern that I see for people that I've worked with, and with myself by the way, what happened to me at first is I started doing guided meditations, and there was a certain few meditations that I would listen to repeatedly. And at a certain point, the guided meditations just kind of cease to become interesting, they cease to take you to a certain experience that you've kind of habituated yourself in receiving, maybe it's a certain state of relaxation that you find after doing this. And like I said, they just kind of get tiresome or boring, and I see a lot of people just toss in the towel, and they say, 'Meditation is not for me, I tried it, I got this far, I did it for, let's say, a month or six weeks or something like that, and I haven't really noticed anything yet.' Well, I would say that the primary problem is that they haven't actually learned to do the practice themselves. Meditation isn't about someone telling you where to place your attention, it's getting better at you being able to discern where your attention is, and to be able to shift where you're placing it. So, it's one thing if I'm in a group class or listening to a guided meditation, and someone says, okay, pay attention to what are you thinking about right now, and can we tune in, can we let go of that and tune into our objective focus, whether that's the breath, or whether that's a certain feeling that we're promoting within ourselves, or whatever. So, if you want to learn meditation, I would definitely recommend getting either a teacher or a mentor or a coach, I would recommend some way to get feedback, some way to ask question, someone to talk about your experience during meditation, and say, 'Hey, this is what I noticed is happening', and for that person to be able to say, 'Okay, I can kind of understand where you're at, and this is what I recommend, this is what I suggest and remind you of these key principles.' Because you really do have to have a good understanding of what you are to be doing in there. It is incredibly frustrating, like I said, this is my experience, at least at the start, it was very frustrating to just be sitting in meditation and following my breath, okay, I'm following my breath, but how do I do that? I can do that in a lot of different ways. I can work with my mind in a lot of different ways. I can be forceful with it, I can be gentle with it, I can kind of be like blasé with it, I can not care, I can try to just numb myself or tune out, there's a lot of ways to be in life in meditation. So, we want to promote certain qualities of being, and that's why it's important to have a good solid understanding of how to go about doing that.

Jeremy Cline 23:53
So, what does meditating teaching look like? If I go to a class, a teacher, a mentor or an instructor, a coach, whatever, what will they do with me?

Josh Schmidt 24:05
Well, again, I mean, I can kind of share what has been done for me, and what I also share with my clients. I won't speak for everyone, this is not universal. So, you might go to a meditation class, it might be completely different from what I'm describing now, and don't come email me and say, 'You said that I was going to be getting this.' What I like to do is I like to talk about, like I said, the principles of meditation. And I can talk about a couple of those right now, if you'd like me to. Two of the most important ones that we're dealing with is something called Ahimsa and Satya, those are the two Yamas in yoga philosophy, two of the Yamas. Ahimsa, which is non-force, or allowing would be a good way to say it, and Satya, which is loving what is, which is being really clear on what's actually going on in our experience, where our attention is, getting clear on that, and not trying to resist it. So, working with these two principles, these two principles in our practice. So, when we close our eyes, and we start to meditate, when we start to tune into our experience as it is, we don't want to be pushing anything away, we don't want to be trying to get rid of all of these negative thoughts or stressful thoughts or anxious thoughts. We want to be present to them to a certain degree. But we also recognise that we have power of attention, that we don't need to be focusing on them. So, we gently tune in to something else, I use a mantra, I use a mantra to help encourage a quality of feeling. So, the mantra isn't necessarily a word, it's not necessarily peace, we're not just saying peace to say peace, we're saying peace to feel peace, what would it feel like to be at peace in my body right now, or with my experience, what would that feel like? Can I access a sense of feeling? And we're going to tune into that instead. So, anytime distractions come up, or a truck goes by outside, and my attention gets pulled away from that sense of peace, I'm going to acknowledge that, accept what is, my attention is elsewhere, and gently tune back into this experience of peace that I'd like to really experience more of in my life. So, in the practice, in my teaching or in my coaching, I want to give people a strong understanding of how to actually do that. And then, like I mentioned, the two movements of meditation, we practice tuning in and releasing from, and it's really just about, I mean, every conversation is unique, I have a couple of metaphors that I use when starting out. Learning meditation is a lot like learning to drive in a way. First, you do need to learn the rules of the road, you wouldn't just get behind a car and start driving, that's not how you would start learning to drive. You would study, you would first go to Driver's Ed, you would understand, okay, this is what the directionals are, this is how I change lanes, and you have a theoretical understanding of it, and then you get behind the wheel with a driving instructor. And luckily, they have a little break over there, too, they might even have another second steering wheel, to help keep you on course. And that's kind of what the coaching process is like. I want to give you the rules of the road to meditation, I want to help take you through that and kind of illuminate what those things are. And then, I want to get in there with you. And I do offer guided meditation, for the first, at least for the first few sessions, we'll do a guided meditation, and I'll leave space for us to practice together within that. So, for me, it's about really getting clear on what meditation is and isn't, how to actually do that, and then take people through a process of, again, repeatedly doing that. And, you know, in the coaching, what comes up is like the things that are getting in the way. Very practical, by the way, just like, 'Oh, how do I find time to do this? I can't seem to really stay consistent.' Well, why is that? Is it really a matter of time? Is it that I don't have enough time? Or is it that I don't know what to do with the time that I have? Or am I perceiving something that's getting in the way that really is just made up, is really just an excuse maybe? We need to have a reason to meditate. And if we don't have a strong pull to do this, it's going to be hard to make it stick, at least at first. After we get going with it, the benefits of it really do reinforce the practice, in the sense that I'll notice the benefits, and that'll be reason enough for me to continue. And that's what's happened for me. I know how much better I feel when I meditate, and not just like after meditation, I mean over time, I know how much different I feel. So, I'm going to definitely keep it up. And it's a no brainer for me. I mean, I don't think twice about it.

Jeremy Cline 29:18
What do you see is the common reasons why people might start and then quit after a few weeks?

Josh Schmidt 29:24
I think the biggest one is a lack of understanding or our expectations not meeting up with what that experience actually is. Again, a lot of people's access to meditation is either something like Headspace or Calm, like an app, or it's a guided meditation on YouTube, or it's a quick Google search. I don't think we're really understanding at a deep enough level of what it is that we're supposed to be doing, and therefore, it makes the practice of it really difficult and challenging. And again, if we sit down, if we have a pattern, if we have a pattern and a habit, of thinking, overthinking, stressful thoughts, anxious thoughts, and that's why we're seeking meditation, to kind of help us with those thoughts, well, as soon as we go and close our eyes for the first time, we're going to be flooded with all those thoughts again. And if we don't have a good technique to use in order to steer ourselves in a direction towards a more peaceful way of being or a more enjoyable way of being, for even more general terms, it's not going to be an enjoyable experience at all. We're going to sit down, and we're going to just be fighting with our thoughts for 10, 15, 20, 30 minutes. I mean, I don't recommend that people start off meditation going to retreats, it's not useful. It's not useful. Especially these multi-day retreats, where you're meditating for six, eight hours a day. For some people, I can't say this for everyone, for some people, maybe it is useful, and it is what they need. But for the great majority of people, I think it is not necessarily a good entryway, it's not a good way to learn meditation. I would say smaller increments is actually better, start with like 10 minutes a day, and just work that into your routine, get it into your routine, and then maybe we can increase. And then, maybe a year or two down the road, if you really have interest in learning more about a retreat, which is a certain type of person, right, probably one who's more interested in the spiritual side of things, maybe I shouldn't even say that, but then go for it. Once you have that foundation, then great, then maybe that will be a container to really grow the roots deeper. But beforehand, it can be really difficult. Yeah, even stressful.

Jeremy Cline 31:59
It's really interesting what you described, because I've had a go a couple of times, and it hasn't stuck. And the way I've started is by using an app or using YouTube videos. And I started off with another app, Insight Timer, and found this sort of seven-day beginner’s course. So, you know, okay, so you do one thing for seven days, and that was great. And then, it got to the end of that, and then it was like, what do I do now? Where do I go from here? There's thousands of different meditations you can do with different types and different lengths, and I started playing around with them and thought, you know, a couple of minutes into one of them, this isn't really doing it for me, I didn't really know what I was doing. And son consequently, yeah, gave up. And so, it's just fascinating to hear you describe, basically, what was exactly my experience. So, that's really helpful. So, if the one takeaway I'm getting is, if you want to start, then the best way to start is to find a teacher of some description, where do you start with that? How do you find someone that's going to work for you?

Josh Schmidt 33:14
Yeah, I mean, this is where the kind of trial and error of it comes, I guess. Everyone has their own unique way of describing meditation, everyone has their own unique teaching style. It's far from, it's not up to me to decide which one's better, because they're all, there's many practical teachers out there, there's probably many very good teachers out there. I think there's also many teachers that are maybe not as good as others. And there's definitely some that don't know what they're talking about at all. I know only because I've done a meditation certificate programme. And these programmes are kind of a joke, to be perfectly honest with you, they don't give you a good understanding of meditation, they have you meditate, but they don't give you a lot of one-on-one feedback or instruction. And now, I can only speak for the course that I took. There's probably plenty of teacher trainings that are very intensive, and you're getting a lot of feedback, and there's a certain mentorship to it. But I think that, again, personalised instruction is really necessary. So, what I would suggest for anyone who wants to learn meditation sincerely is that you're going to have to try a few different teachers. I mean, I recommend, if you can go to a centre that has multiple, like around me in the Cambridge area or in the Boston area, there's a couple of meditation specific centres that have a number of teachers there, and that you can go to, and I would recommend going to the beginner classes, like you're saying, the one that I'm thinking of runs a beginner six-week programme, where you meet once a week for six weeks, and it takes you through some kind of process there to kind of get you up to speed. But yeah, I mean, you can do this, sure, you can go online and find some teachings, you can find different meditation teachers that way, but I would really recommend going and actually like experiencing, whether it's virtual, like on Zoom, or whether it's live in the classroom, so to speak, I would recommend trying out different meditation teachers, hear what they're saying, see if it makes sense to you, can you actually apply what they're saying in your practice, and that's a really good way of measuring it. And I feel like the feedback aspect is really helpful, too, at a certain stage. So, getting someone who kind of speaks your language, I mean, actually the language you speak, but I also mean speaks in a way that you can understand that, and you can deepen your understanding and actually apply it to the practice itself.

Jeremy Cline 36:02
I think one of the things that probably puts people off is the perceived time commitment. And I've heard of people doing two-hour sessions of meditation a day, which I'm sure can have some hugely beneficial effects, but I'm guessing there's quite a lot of people out there who think, 'Two hours a day!? Like I have that time.' And I'm sure that the answer to this question is it depends on the person and what they're trying to get out of it, but can you offer any kind of guidelines as to five minutes a day is enough, 10 minutes a day is enough, half an hour a day is enough, if you can just do this sort of thing regularly, then you will start to see the benefits, so it starts to get a bit more manageable and a bit less scary.

Josh Schmidt 36:50
Yeah, I mean, for me, I meditate a minimum, basically, of 20 minutes a day. Most days, it'll be around the 20-minute mark, like 22 or 23 minutes, sometimes as much as like 40 minutes. But really, and I don't know why this is, and I've heard it from a number of different people, 20 minutes seems to be about the, I don't know, the magic number, for some reason. If you can stay consistent and do 20 minutes a day, I think you can see some really good benefits from that. There's certainly schools of thought that suggest two meditations of 20 minutes a day, so 40 minutes altogether. That's fine. I think if you're practising sincerely, and if you have a good understanding of what you're doing, I think 20 minutes a day, 30 minutes a day, that's probably all you need. Like you said, if you wanted to do more, there probably are some benefits of doing that, of doing more, but only at a certain point. I mean, like I said, starting off, I recommend my clients start for the first six weeks doing 10 to 12 minutes. And then, after that, you add like a minute or two, every few weeks. Every few weeks. I mean, this isn't something that you need to get up to 20 minutes right away. I mean, the point of meditation is to practice it your entire life, there's no final performance of it. This is just a practice. And we want it to be part of our life. So, we're not going to do that if we feel like we need to force it, we're not going to do that if we're not enjoying the experience, we're not going to do it if we don't understand what we're even doing, right? So, once we have the foundations down, it'll feel appropriate to add a little bit more time, but until then, yeah, 10 minutes, 10-12 minutes is probably good enough. But at a certain point, it's kind of an interesting experience, you almost like acclimate to that amount of time, 10 minutes starts to feel like it's not quite enough anymore. You almost know when the timer is going to go off, or when 10 minutes is up, and it's like, I'd actually prefer to go a little bit longer, and it feels appropriate. And at that point, that's when we should start elongating it a little bit or taking a little bit more time for it.

Jeremy Cline 39:07
I'm sure you have people who've just started who say to you, 'But Josh, I don't have 20 minutes a day, I just can't spare that time, I can't even spare 10 minutes a day.' What are some of the questions that you might ask that person to help them get through that blocker?

Josh Schmidt 39:23
Only two people that come to mind that really were, where that was really the case, where they literally felt like they did not have 20 minutes. And sure, even those cases, we could have probably found 20 minutes somewhere. But yeah, I mean, what we start to explore is, well, what are you spending time with now? What does your day look like? Just very easy to answer questions. What does your day look like? Because, I mean, the truth is we do spend a good amount of time either on our phone or watching TV or whatever. I mean, we have all of these tools of distraction in our in our digital age, don't we? It's really about really just holding ourselves accountable to a certain extent. But yeah, what questions do I ask? I ask them very general questions. What time do you wake up? What's your morning? Maybe you go to work, okay, but what is that like? Do you have time? Do you have breaks? What about when you get off work in the evening, what does that look like? How are you spending your time? So, it's really just being honest, this is practising Satya right here, we're getting clear on like where am I actually spending my time. Where am I placing my attention during the time that I have away from what I'm being directed to spend my attention on, at work or otherwise, or with responsibilities that I have? Most people can find 20 minutes easily enough in the morning or the evening. Really, it's not too much of an effort, it might take a little bit of an adjustment in terms of like, okay, I really am going to reserve this 20 minutes after I brush my teeth, or I'm going to wake up five minutes earlier so I have a little bit more wiggle room in the morning, or just deciding to turn off the TV 15-20 minutes before you normally would at the end of the night and meditating before bed, and that's perfectly fine, too. There's no right time of day to meditate, so you can fit it in where it makes sense in your schedule.

Jeremy Cline 41:33
Is it something that you can do on, say, a train journey or something like that, or is that not necessarily possible?

Josh Schmidt 41:40
Yeah, absolutely it is. I personally wouldn't recommend starting doing that. But I would say absolutely you can, a few months down the line, yeah, it will be much easier. I started meditating on the train, or I didn't start meditating, but my first trial run in meditation, I did try that. And it's possible to do it, it's just another factor to kind of be, competing is the wrong word, but that's another factor in there that can make things a little challenging at first, but once you get the hang of it, yeah, you can definitely do it on the train. And that's a perfectly fine time to do it.

Jeremy Cline 42:21
I always like to leave my audience with the easy win, the quick win, if possible. So, what's the one thing that someone who's listened to you and thought, 'I'd like to explore this further', can do?

Josh Schmidt 42:37
Yeah, I mean, aside from exploring what options are available in your area, in terms of finding a teacher, finding a place to study and practice, I would say the quickest win would be like, what is your reason for meditating, or really getting clear on why it is that you'd want to meditate. What would you like to improve, what are the things that you'd like to improve about your life? Why do you feel drawn to this practice? And getting really clear on that, because when we have an emotional connection to anything, when we have a real strong sense of purpose, it becomes a lot easier for us to take action in order to work towards that.

Jeremy Cline 43:22
And aside from what we've just talked about, if someone wants to find out more, I mean, do you have any resources, books or whatever that people might want to have a look at, just to give them a bit of a grounding about what all this is about?

Josh Schmidt 43:38
Sure, I mean, people are more than welcome to go to my website. I don't have a lot of information about meditation specifically, it's more of my life coaching practice. But I do have some guided meditations on Insight Timer, it's funny that you mentioned that, if you look up Josh Schmidt on Insight Timer, I have a few meditations on there, so you could get a sense of what my guided meditations are like. I even have some for like going to bed, for instance. But yeah, I would prefer, if anyone's sincerely interested in learning more about my practice or about my coaching, I would say just to email me, anyone who's listening right now to this show, I would give a complimentary hour-long session, too. All they have to do is just mention that they came across my information here, send me an email, if you could link my email to the show notes or whatever, that'd be lovely.

Jeremy Cline 44:36
Yeah, I'd be delighted to.

Josh Schmidt 44:38
It goes for you too, by the way.

Jeremy Cline 44:40
Thank you very much, Josh and I did not talk about this beforehand, this has come as a complete surprise to me, and a very welcome one, so thank you very much for the offer. You mentioned your email, what websites is the best one to reach you on?

Josh Schmidt 44:52
Yeah, my website is joshschmidtcoaching.com. The email js.meditationcoach@gmail.com, that's the easiest one. But you can find me on Instagram @josh.by.nature. Yeah, Josh Schmidt, Schmidt is easy enough to spell, S-C-H-M-I-D-T, Josh Schmidt Coaching, yeah.

Jeremy Cline 45:17
I'll put links to all of that in the show notes. Well, Josh, thank you so much for coming on. I think it's been really helpful, certainly for me, and I'm sure for other people, just to have this primer, this real beginner's guide to meditation. So, thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and experience.

Josh Schmidt 45:35
Absolutely. Thank you.

Jeremy Cline 45:36
Okay, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Josh Schmidt. Meditation is one of those things that I've dabbled with. I've downloaded the app, I've found a beginner's course, I've done it, enjoyed it, then tried to figure out what to do next, maybe tried a couple of other sessions and have just stopped. It hasn't worked. I haven't really known where to go next. So, it was great to hear from Josh and his suggestions as to how you can get started in a way which gives you a greater chance of turning it into an ongoing practice. I guess it's like many things where there's no shortage of information out there, but you need someone you can talk to, you need someone who can guide you personally, someone who can help you figure out what's going to work for you. So, if this is something which is of interest to you, I hope Josh has given you some good ideas for how to get started. Show notes with links to the resources Josh mentioned, along with a summary of what we talked about, and a full transcript of the entire episode are on the show notes page for this episode, which is at changeworklife.com/137, that's changeworklife.com/137. And I know I mentioned this in the past couple of episodes, but I'm really excited to be offering career coaching myself. I've been working with a few people now to help them make the most out of their careers, and not only am I finding it incredibly fulfilling, but I am seeing results in them. A couple of my clients have been telling me how useful the sessions have been, how much clarity it's enabled them to find, and how it's helped them to take action so that they can make more out of their career. And that's really what I'm looking to help with. I started this podcast to find out how I and others could get more out of their jobs in their careers, and for some of you, the podcast content is going to be enough, and that's fine. But if you're interested in some personalised coaching, if you're interested in the personal accountability that coaching can offer you, and you think I might be someone that you'd like to work with, then get in touch for the contact form on the website, changeworklife.com/contact, drop me a line, mention that you're interested in coaching, and I'll be in touch to arrange a free 30-minute introductory call, where you can basically ask me any questions you want about what it's like to be coached by me. That's changeworklife.com/contact, if you're interested in exploring this further. Now, if the pandemic has shown you that you would like to work anywhere in the world remotely, but you're not sure how you'd achieve that, then the episode in two weeks' time is just for you, because that's what we're going to be talking about. We cover everything you could need to know about remote working full-time, how you can do that with a job, rather than as a consultant or a freelancer, how you can make the most of it, and how you can have that initial conversation to persuade your boss and your colleagues that this is something that's not just beneficial for you, but potentially beneficial for the company you work for as well. It's a great interview, so make sure that you've subscribed to the podcast, if you haven't already, and I can't wait to see you then. Cheers. Bye.

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