Indulge me for a second…Close your eyes while breathing. Count your in-breath for 6 second and then count your out-breath for 6 seconds. Repeat this 5 times. Ready? GO!
You just meditated for 1 minute. (WHAT? GASP!) When I first was introduced to daily mediation, I was probably just like you. My mind conjured up thoughts of hippy-esque dressed old people sitting in a room that smelled like feet while rubbing their crystals and chanting “OM” incessantly for hours. Needless to say, that did NOT interest me. However, as I begin to hear OVER AND OVER again from multiple highly-respected businessmen that they meditate on a daily basis, I figured they must be doing something right. I though about it sort of like the idea of having a mentor (as I’ve written about previously). If you want to grow to be like someone you admire, do what they do.
Let me propose a questions: what if you could lose your mental cloud, your nervous mind, or the hours of tossing and turning in bed by meditating, simply breathing, for 10 minutes per day? Would you think differently about it? Just so we’re clear, today, we’re talking about meditating… (key the ooohs and ahhhs). This is a tricky subject. It’s literally just sitting and breathing…how is that so taboo? So many people think, “I can’t meditate” or “meditation is stupid” or “that’s a waste of time.” But I would hardly consider the benefits listed below as a waste of time. The issue is most people look at meditation as a way to gain some sort of higher understanding or deeper relaxation or inner peace and relaxation. What people often miss is that meditation is more about realizing what’s already in you and having a slight paradigm shift to be able to see it.
I’m always pushing people to use this simple tool, but most people blow it off. I’ve had more people laugh me off with an “OK, dude. Whatever” response than I’d like to admit, but every once in a while, someone comes back saying that they’d finally tried it and it was AMAZING!
I usually start my day with the same routine each day (read about it here), and part of that process is my morning meditation. To meditate in the morning, I just simply focus on my in-breaths, out-breaths and the space between them. Since it’s early in the morning, I find it much easier to do without guidance. It’s relatively easy to start. Begin in a comfortable position with your back relatively straight. Focus on one small aspect of your breath. How the air fills on your nose, or how the back of your throat feels. Also, counting in 6 and out 6 and slowly growing that number to 10 or 12 will help you keep all the thoughts at bay. I do this for about 10 minutes. Read below for step-by-step instructions. I think it’s really important to note that it’s not complicated, but will take some practice.
During my second mediation after lunch (usually around 2 or so), I use the CALM app because I have so much more stuff flying through my mind. It’s just harder for me to do it myself. But with the help of a guided meditation, you just sit back and listen. There are also tons of free youtube, podcasts and online mediation sites that help as well.
Aside-For someone who has never mediated, I HIGHLY suggest using the CALM app as the guiuded mediations are AWESOME and SUPER EASY. Also, you can get a free week here. In addition to guided meditations, they have specific ones focused on stress, anxiety, sleep and more. There are sleep stories (I thought this was pretty stupid until I started listening to them), guided body stretches, and even playlists with music to help you focus, sleep or destress. Now that I’ve used the app for several months, my brain actually has a pavlovian response and starts to calm as soon as I open the app.
Research says the health benefits include the following:
Reduce stress and anxiety and make better decisions.
When you are stressed out, your amygdyla (lizard brain/fight or flight part) takes over control. This part of your brain isn’t good at managing every day tasks. By meditating, you activate your prefrontal cortex (better at decisions) and can actually shrink the amygdyla causing less stress and better decisions. Read more here.
Increase intelligence, memory, dexterity and focus.
Numerous studies show that all of these are achievable with as little as 10-12 minutes per day. Because your emotions aren’t in the way of thinking, you are able to more objectively approach a problem. The Harvard Business review stated that many companies are now implementing this as part of their employees’ work days.
Meditation helps us change the way we see and deal with negative emotions in our body. Mindefullness-Based Cognitive Therapy or MBCT allows for this exact thing.
This is a big one. Tying most everything above together, mediating can boost melatonin, serotonin, GABA, DHEA, endorphins and growth hormone. A power surge of positivity!
How I meditate:
- Set aside roughly 10-12 minutes in your calendar or your daily schedule. Set a timer on your phone for 10 minutes.
- Get in a comfortable position in a room with little to no distractions. A closed office, your car, bedroom, etc.
- Sit up straight, hands by your side and relax.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Keep repeating the process.
- Breathe normally for a few breaths and then bring your focus to the breath. Focus on the ins, the outs, and the space between.
- When your mind wanders (generally where people give up), slowly guide it back to the breath. Note- It will wander. That’s part of the process. It’s totally fine. Simply notice that it’s wandering, move the thought to the side and bring your focus back to your breath. It’s a constant cat and mouse game of catching your wandering mind and directing it back to the breath.
- When your timer goes off, slowly bring your focus back to the room and move your hand and legs a little. Let the calmness sink it and then go about your day refreshed and ready to knock it out of the park!
So yea, meditation is for losers like me. People who want to lose their anxiety, stress, fears, selfishness, anger and negative emotions, the habit of judgment, and the inability to be happy with everything we have going for us. Don’t worry, be happy.. and meditate.
Have any more questions? Please reach out. I’m no expert in any of this, but I can give you some real world advice from my own experiences!