It was only three years ago that I was a disbeliever of the potential benefits in ’sitting and doing nothing’. I was in a period of my life when I was stressed from work, suffering anxiety attacks, and on medication to control anxiety based depression. To sum it up, I was a mess.
That all drastically changed when I started questioning my psychology, focusing on my health, and talking to my supportive friends about my troubles. This turned out to be most valuable, as I was introduced to a new tool for my self-betterment arsenal. Although it took a while to coax myself to accept sitting still as a means of progress, meditation has turned out to be a game changer, and a habit which I will take with me for life.
Quieten the buzz, make way for your inner brilliance
For so long, I suffered from this syndrome, and I had no idea how much it affected my day to day life until I managed to quieten my mind using meditation.
So, if you’ve never tried it, then why would you want to take up meditation?
Well, there’s plenty of benefits that I’ve seen arise from my practice, including:
- Relief of anxiety
- Providing clearer thoughts
- Slowing down reaction to stimulation - being more more patient
- Increase recognition of compulsive behaviour patterns
- Gain in confidence and self-assurance
- Increase in productivity
Meditation gives clarity to my thoughts, my focus, and increases my levels of creativity.
Imagine your office was overcrowded with clutter, rubbish, mess, and to top it off, your colleague is tapping away to his favourite beats in the cubicle next door. All you want to do is to get your stuff done, but how can you with all the distractions? The mess never seems to go away, work keeps piling up, and your colleague doesn’t seem to get the hint. This is your busy mind without meditation.
How can you expect to access your true inner brilliance if it’s constantly bombarded by a mess bouncing around inside your head? The key is to quieten the buzz with meditation, and let the quality thoughts roam free in the space that’s created.
How to meditate. It’s easier than you think
A note from Jason: To make your meditation even easier, I’ve put together a Morning Meditation Cheat Sheet which will guide you through the process step-by-step. It’s a PDF you can print out and put in front of you as a guide.
- Alert your mind - As part of my morning routine, I like to perform stretching in the form of the yoga Sun Salutation sequence. This acts to release the tension in my body, and enrich my blood with fresh flowing oxygen which is essential for building strong neuron bonds in my brain. This all assists in clearing my mind before my meditation practice.
- Get seated - You may think meditation is all about being cross legged on pillows, surrounded by candles and the strong smell of burning incense. Not true. I find a comfortable, quiet place to sit normally and comfortably,so that I don’t become overwhelmed with tingling in my legs, sore muscles, or anything else which may prove a distraction. My favourite places are either a flat chair or the edge of my bed.
- Set your goal - I use a stopwatch app on my phone to set the duration of my meditation practice at 10 minutes. I’m busy, as I’m sure you are too, so I don’t like to sit and meditate for long periods of time. I’ve got stuff to do! It’s a fine line between effectiveness of meditation and productivity in your day, and you’ll eventually determine what works best for you. I recommend to start out small at first. If you think you can meditate for 5 minutes, go for 3 instead. Picking a goal that lies below your expectations sets you up to win, which is important when building a new habit. After two years meditating, I find that 10 minutes works well, and longer is even better (if you have time for it). You’ll achieve noticeable results at 5 minutes and above. TIP : Make sure your phone is on Airplane Mode to ensure you’re not interrupted.
- Relax into position - Once you’ve set your stopwatch, get seated and relax into position. Sit with a straight back, relaxed limbs, feet flat on the floor, palms face down resting on your knees. Part of meditation is creating a sense of grounding yourself with the here and now, so focus on the pressure applied through your buttocks and feet as they intercept the physical world. Do a few neck rotations and when you’re ready, start your stopwatch, gently close your eyes, and relax.
- Meditate - Warning: Your mind will wander, and that’s perfectly fine. In the early stages of developing your practice, be patient. You will likely encounter resistance from your busy mind, as it rejects your attempts at finding peace.
If you’re finding it hard to stay focused on your practice, here are some helpful pointers I’ve used.
- Pretend you’re cross eyed and staring at the end of your nose. This is used in yoga as a point of focus, and is a point that helps me centralise my thinking, bringing it back to neutral.
- Focus on breath. Sometimes you just need something to focus on. Pretend you’re watching air enter your nostrils. Feel it’s cool, oxygen rich presence, as you inhale and exhale slowly, and steadily.
- Watch your pressure points - Another great focal point to centralise your thoughts is the pressure you are applying to the physical world. While you’re sitting, these might be the soles of your feet, the palms of your hands, and your buttocks. Notice how the pressure feels, and picture it’s integration with the earth to which you are intimately connected.
- Picture from above - If you find yourself caught up in a thought, practice pressing pause and then picturing yourself looking from a very high location, say from a hot air balloon. As you watch, place your thought inside a bubble, and watch it float up towards you then pop it, making it disappear. In doing this you’re turning the scenario into the third person, and removing yourself from the thought. It sounds strange, but it works.
Meditation gives you the edge. Keep it sharp.
There are many successful people that have realised the power of a meditation practice in their daily lives, including Oprah Winfrey and Steve Jobs, and many more. They (and I) attribute much of their success to this essential morning habit, so why not make it yours?
Meditation will level up your game, if it’s used consistently and habitually as part of a morning routine. When used in conjunction with your morning journal, you’ll be able to plan your day ahead effectively and act with clear and decisive purpose. Your time in meditative silence will help you gain perspective of what’s truly important in the moment, and prioritise your time according to thoughts of success, not of mayhem.
Remember: Results will be few and far between if you don’t take action, and make meditation a part of your morning ritual. Don’t forget to download the Morning Meditation Cheat Sheet to cement your commitment.
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