Let’s say you theoretically want to meditate. Or wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves: Meditation is hard. Right?
Maybe you just want a mindful practice of some kind or another to cut down on stress and anxiety.
Ok, we can do that.
But maybe you’re not a sit-still-and-om kind of person. You’ve tried yoga, but it was too slow and 90-minute classes just don’t fit your schedule. You tried a guided meditation, but the dreamy slow voice drove you bonkers (me, too). And the idea of becoming a crunchy hippy type and om-ing cross legged on the floor just isn’t going to happen.
Look, meditation is for everybody.
There are thousands of different kinds of meditation. Just because you feel strongly opposed to one kind of meditation isn’t a good reason to shun all the other options. It’s so effective and useful that you can find it everywhere. It’s in hospitals, athletic fields, offices and boardrooms. And yes, in yoga studios. People like Howard Stern, Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, Jerry Seinfeld, Arianna Huffington, Steve Jobs and so, so many more attribute their meditative/mindful practice to their success.
First, let’s clear up some common misunderstandings.
Meditation will not make you soft or curb your drive for success.
Meditation is not (only) emptying your mind and sitting in a suspended state of complete silence.
Meditation is not just for hippies and crystal toting weirdos (of which, I’m one).
Meditation is not religion.
And it’s definitely not magic.
Meditation is a practical and effective way to clean the mind. Think of it like a daily shower that cleans off yesterday’s dirt and readies you for the day ahead. You wouldn’t go into the business world with a stinky body. So why are you going into the business world with a reeking, messy mind?
It’s a technology that uses what you already have - your mind, your body, your thoughts, emotions and senses – to clean off the mental debris. When your mind is free of distracting commotion, you’ll experience an increase in focus, greater clarity, and the ability to avoid mistakes. When your in this state, you have more time.
Yes, meditation creates time.
Time is what we all want more of. It’s what people always complain they don’t have enough of. It’s also the #1 reason people use for not meditating.
So how in the world does meditation make time?
How much time do you spend on things that have nothing to do with what is really important? There are countless ways to lose focus these days – thank you, technology, marketing and FOMO. Meditation hones your focus. When you have unwavering focus, you become an unstoppable force that tears through distraction and gets straight to potent actions that produce results.
How much time do you spend lost in a fog of daydreams and confusion? Meditation clears out the junk and quiets down the mental commotion so you have more clarity about what your next step is.
Meditation also teaches you how to stay present in the moment. When you’re able to apply your attention, with clarity and focus, on the present moment then you make fewer mistakes. You can see things as they are.
When we’re stressed and under pressure, we naturally narrow our focus. It’s a biological feature. Problem is, we’re rarely under the kind of stress or pressure that this feature was designed for: imminent violent attack and certain death. Usually it’s a crap boss pushing a deadline or a bad driver slowing down traffic.
Meditation teaches you how to keep a broad mental perspective while narrowing your focus of action. With this new, sophisticated ability, you can see the resources and opportunities available to you while you simultaneously take determined, forward-moving action.
Pretty thrilling, right?
I’ve personally experienced the bending and expansion of time as my own practice has deepened and evolved. I’ve also witnessed it for others. There are days that contain so much momentum, so many achievements, so much progress I know that only meditation could have made it possible.
What to Expect WHEN YOU MEDITATE
Everybody has a different experience with meditation. It all depends on your mental temperament, personality and type of meditation or practice you’re using. Ultimately, it’s a private experience.
When you first start meditating, you’ll probably experience an overwhelming surge of feelings, thoughts and images. You might feel your body as you’ve never felt it before. There might be mysterious ticks, itches or pains. You might hear sounds you never before noticed.
All of this is normal.
Think of it like any cleaning out of anything. Imagine cleaning out your closet or garage. It seems kind-of, sort-of orderly but as you actually start to dig through what’s there, the contents of explode all around you. There’s more stuff in there than you thought. Same goes with your mind.
As you go through all your stuff, some things are useful. Some things need to be tossed. Some things will take you down a wormhole of memories. Others will horrify, embarrass or confuse you as you wonder why you have it in there in the first place.
As you go through the process of seeing, sorting, discarding and organizing you’ll have more space to be present in the moment, in your life, in your business.
See how this works?
Where to Meditate
Ok, so there are qualifiers and certain conditions that are more friendly toward a comfortable meditative experience:
- Generally, a quiet place. The fewer noises to distract you the better, especially in the beginning.
- Make sure the space isn’t too cold, or too hot.
- It’s nice to have a cushion or block to sit on to elevate the hips and avoid cramping in your lower back or hip flexors. That, or sit in a chair. Either way, your back is straight.
- Some people like to dedicate a specific place for their meditation. This becomes a “sacred” spot and might include objects that remind you and your mind that what you’re doing is something different from the hectic norm.
You can meditate at work. At home. At the gym.
I don’t recommend you meditate in two places: In the car and in bed.
In the car, you want to stay alert. Meditation doesn’t make you more alert to driving, unless your meditation is one where you keep your eyes open and your brain completely ON.
In bed, you’ll likely just fall asleep. If that’s the result you’re looking for then by all means, meditate in bed. Otherwise, keep yourself sitting upright and off the mattress.
When to Meditate
Most people like to meditate in the morning. There are many good reasons for this. Mainly, it’s the quietest time of the entire day. Both man and beast are quiet before 6:30-7am. If you can get up before then and sit still in meditation, you’ll get the benefit of this added stillness.
Also, if you can start your day with meditation then you start with a major win, which sets up the rest of your day for success.
Some people like to meditate before bed. This works just as well. Meditating at night can help empty the mind of the day’s stress and put your system at ease, readying it for a good night’s sleep.
How Long to Meditate
That entirely depends on you. You can meditate for as little as 60 seconds, or as long as 2 ½ hours. Or all day. But I’m not about to say that’s what you should do.
I’d say, imagine how much time you can dedicate to meditating every day. Then take that time and split it in half. Meditate for half the time you think you can.
The thing is, most of us think we can do something for longer than we’re actually willing to do it. So rather than set yourself up for imminent failure and disappointment, halve the number you have in your mind. And then do that with all the determination and grit you’d apply to any business goal.
Most people tell me they can begin meditating for 10 minutes. GREAT! Then set your timer for 5 minutes. That will not only be easier, it will give you a sense of satisfaction when you do it every single day…because who doesn’t have 5 minutes in their day to sit quietly?
What Kind of Meditation to Use
Now this is a rather complicated. Thing is, there are hundreds if not thousands of different kinds of meditation to do. Within each tradition, there’s dozens and dozens (thousands!) of different styles, techniques and tools to try.
Do you choose a Zen Buddhist meditation or a Kundalini yoga meditation? Do you try out a Transcendental Meditation or a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) technique?
It’s entirely up to you.
Follow your gut. Try things out like you’d try ice cream flavors. When you land on one you really like, stick with it. Eat the whole thing. And then, treat it like an adventure. It is an adventure. It’s a lifelong journey exploring the inner workings of you, as a human being.
Today, a 5-minute Vipassana meditation might work for you. Tomorrow we might find you chanting Ra-Ma-Da-Sa for 11 minutes. It’s hard to say.
There are reasons and results for each meditation. Each is valid and useful. I’m not an evangelist for any type of meditation – but I will tell you that meditation is one of the best things you could ever do for yourself, your life, and your business.
I offer all different kinds of tools, including meditations, via this blog/vlog and in the free tools members-only section. Check that out if you want to explore a collection of tools all in one place.
Is meditation the only type of practice to do to clean out the stinky garbage and align with success and get results? No. There are so many tools and technologies that it would be impossible to cover all of them in one place. But meditation is the bedrock for many interdisciplinary practices.
Do you want help figuring out what your practice is? I mentor entrepreneurs and business leaders, creating blueprints that guide you on a deepening path of your own practice and applying that new clarity, focus, energy and sophistication to your business.
This stuff works. I’ve experienced it and I’ve watched clients, colleagues and my own mentors experience it. And as I mentioned above, there are countless examples of celebrities, business leaders and successful people of all stripes that meditate or use a mindful practice to elevate their own activities and generate more success .
Don’t miss out on the secret behind the secret to success. Get in touch if you have any questions about meditation – and check out the Getting Started Gear Guide below!