If you’ve followed the blog, you probably know by now that I am a fan of Peloton. Historically, however, I haven’t really used the Peloton platform to support my meditation practice because I prefer unguided meditation. Late last year, however, one of my favorite yoga instructors Aditi Shah announced the new intro to meditation program. As a maven of meditation, I did the program myself so I could tell you about it here.
Here’s an overview of the program, a summary of what I liked and didn’t like, and a bottom line conclusion for those of you considering it for yourself.
The Intro to Meditation Program structure is available on the Peloton app or any Peloton device. You don’t need any equipment to use it, though some headphones and a meditation spot or cushion sure help. The program is designed to be completed over the course of 3 weeks and consists of short (5-minute) instructional videos to explain basic concepts and 5 or 10-minute guided meditations for practice. The concepts covered include mindfulness of thoughts, mindfulness of body, metta (loving-kindness), and them mindfulness of emotions.
What I Like About the Program
Overall, I think the Intro to Meditation is a good start for those new to meditation and mindfulness. Here’s what I liked most.
It Has the Right Stuff.
In my new book, I created a structure for creating a mindfulness practice in 30 days. It included basic mindfulness, body awareness, reconnecting with joy (i.e. mindfulness of emotions) and loving-kindness. The Intro to Meditation program has these same concepts, though the order is different and it is presented in a different way. Thus, in terms of essential ingredients, I think Aditi and the Peloton team ticked the right boxes for the program.
I Love that It Includes Loving-Kindness.
This is a bit redundant from the point before, but it bears repeating: loving-kindness is a powerful practice that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. I was thrilled that the program devoted significant attention to the practice of loving-kindness. I was also glad that the program exposed those new to meditation to the practice because compassion is something that can make establishing a consistent meditation practice much easier.
Meditations Are Less Wordy.
I don’t normally do guided meditations because I enjoy silence, so I was pleasantly surprised that the program meditations actually included some silent spaces. I have done some Peloton meditations in the past that I wouldn’t even call meditations because they were so infused with imagery or storytelling that there was no space for my own awareness. These were comparatively less filled with words and allowed some space to experience the concepts taught in the program.
It Teaches Basic Concepts.
Peloton programs in my experience have instructed through the exercises themselves. I was pleasantly surprised when the Intro to Meditation Program included instructional talks to explain the basics of meditation and the science supporting it. In my experience, understanding the science of the practice has always helped me understand the “why” of what I was doing. As a result, I was glad that the Intro to Meditation program provided a context so that users could understand the practices as well as experience them.
Drawbacks of the Program
Even though I am a fan of Peloton and adore Aditi, I have to admit that the program is not perfect. Here are the things that I didn’t love about it.
Aditi Sounds Rehearsed at Times.
Aditi sounds pretty natural when I take her yoga classes, but she sounded rehearsed for most of the explanation videos. And, though I understand that Peloton sells fitness apparel, I thought it was silly that Aditi was wearing a sports bra with no shirt or sweatshirt when she was teaching the passive activity of meditation. To be fair, this was likely the result of a new format and the fact that Aditi was teaching in a new way. In order to get the content delivered in a time efficient way, she almost certainly had to be reading from a script. In other words, the experience of watching the explanation videos lacks the connection you might get even from other prerecorded Peloton classes.
Information Was Conveyed But Real Teaching Was Rare.
Along the same lines as the point above, the Intro to Meditation program provides information about meditation but it doesn’t really teach the subject. Clearly, this is a result of the forum and the intent for the program to only be an introduction to meditation. Even so, the explanation videos could have provided a few more stories or examples to give the content more life. The few that Aditi offered in the videos appeared heartfelt and were effective, so I hope future Peloton programs will dig a bit deeper on this point.
The Order of the Program Felt Scattered.
As I experienced when writing my book, it can be hard to identify the “best” starting point when teaching meditation. Though meditation practices often select a single focal point, our experience is rarely so isolated and usually includes a mishmash of sensory information, body sensations, thoughts, emotions, and external stimuli. Though I like that the Program included the right topics, I found the order somewhat confusing and scattered.
The Structure May Not Be the Best Tool for Establishing a Habit.
I am adamantly anti-perfectionist when it comes to meditation. I admit that I miss practice all the time and regularly have to revamp my own habits. Even so, when I do, the tried and true approach for me is getting back to a daily practice. My recommendation for those starting is to strive for a daily practice, even at shorter intervals, to put the habit on autopilot. The Peloton Program is not set up for daily practice, perhaps to avoid the “perfection trap.” While I respect that tactical choice, the drawback is that users of the Program may have a bit more difficulty establishing a practice.
The Intro to Meditation Program is an accessible tool to help the millions of Peloton users worldwide learn the basics of meditation practice. Though the Program doesn’t stand on its own to support a long-term meditation practice, that may not be a bad thing. It will likely leave users wanting more but meditation practice is to some degree about exploration. Because the Program makes trying meditation simple and easy, it is a good start for anyone new to meditation but hopefully not a final destination.
Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, which is available now.
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