In 2003, a man named Dave Bailsford became the performance director of British Cycling. The team had never won more than one gold medal in a single Olympic competition since 1908.
But Bailsford had an idea about how to change that: the team could look at everything that affected their performance and improve each of those things by just one percent. If they made many small improvements, he reasoned, they would add up to a big advantage.
The team realized that on some cycling tours they might spend seven nights in seven different hotels. This left the quality of their sleep to chance, so the team started bringing their pillows and bedding from home. Do you see where this is going?
That was a marginal change, but they combined it with many others in areas like equipment, health, hygiene, and training.
What were the effects?
In the 2004 Olympics, the British Cycling team finally won two gold medals in a single Olympics. But in 2008 and 2012, after several more years of small improvements, they won eight gold medals — no other country won more than two.
Then in 2012, a cyclist from Team Sky, a professional British cycling team also directed by Bailsford, became the first British cyclist ever to win the Tour de France. The approach worked.
What does this mean for us as meditators?
Whether we are new to meditation or have practiced it for many years, a similar approach can be helpful. Attitudes, lifestyle, and our practice of the techniques themselves are all areas we can improve in, and many of the improvements we can make are easy.
For example, can we improve the location we meditate in? Can we begin our meditations in a more energetic way, perhaps by beginning the moment that we sit down? What about learning a new pranayama (breathing technique)? And what about increasing our motivation — even by just one percent?
To make this as dynamic as possible, we’re starting a 30-day challenge and want to invite you to join us. Every few days, you’ll get an email with a fresh idea, inspiration, or with a new technique for you to learn. We’ll also share ways to go further with the things you find particularly inspiring.
At the end of the challenge, you’ll have a chance to reflect and see what make the biggest difference. If you want to, share your thoughts with us: we’ll use your feedback improve the course, which will always be free.
Our hope is that this course will help you invigorate your spiritual practices with ideas and inspiration, and take your meditation practice much deeper.
On the spiritual path, it’s often said that there is no treading water — one can really only go forward or backward. But it’s also good to remember, as Swami Sri Yukteswar said, that “No spiritual effort is ever wasted.”
Joy to you,