Telling you that having a daily mindful or meditation practice is a good idea is nothing new. The personal benefits have been preached about, studied extensively and documented well.
If you haven’t yet been harangued by a friend, colleague, spiritual advisor or coach to start meditating then consider this your wake up call: Beginning and sustaining a consistent meditation or mindfulness practice is one of the most powerfully effective actions you can take to change your life for the better.
Hurdle One: The How
What most people think of when somebody mentions meditation is a very serious, straight-backed yogi with thumbs and index finger in the traditional Gyan mudra on their knees. This need not be the case.
Meditation or a mindfulness practice can look and be many different ways. There’s walking or movement-based meditations, sense-based awareness, focus-based meditations, mantra or chanting-based meditations, sound meditations and guided meditations. For a summary and brief descriptions of 23 different types of meditation, check out this link.
Whatever you choose, the best meditation for you is the one that you’ll stick to. What’s important is consistency, not the method. (tweet it)
I encourage you to dabble a bit to find what is both easiest and the most powerful method for you.
If you’re unsure were to begin or want support, reach out to a local meditation center, teacher or a meditation coach to help you create a practice that fits your preferences, habits and schedule.
Hurdle Two: The What
Once you’ve chosen a method, the experience begins.
Beyond the immediate image of the guru or sage sitting straight-backed on a rock in nature, it’s commonly assumed that meditation is about stopping the mind chatter and sitting in a sustained state of absolute stillness – no movement, no thought, no emotion. Basically, to meditate is to be in a masterful state that transcends the human experience.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
To meditate is to consciously choose to bring the mind into a state of active awareness of your current experience. That’s it. It’s no more complicated than that.
As you settle into your meditation, you’ll experience a surge of thoughts, images and emotions. These will be both pleasant and uncomfortable. You will likely also experience irritations, pain and discomfort in your body. Your mind and body being intimately linked, these are all experiences of clearing away the inner clutter that has built up over the years. Your only job right now, in the moment, is to witness it without getting involved. Let the mind and body do their thing.
The purpose of the method you chose is to assist you in staying present – to give you a touchpoint to return to when you find yourself drifting off down a thought path or obsessing over an emotional experience.
That’s it. That’s meditation.
Hurdle Three: The Why
Sustaining a mediation or mindfulness practice is as easy or difficult to start and sustain as any exercise routine. Meaning, the challenge is not in doing it. The challenge is in managing your resistance to it.
It takes practice to keep the mind in the present moment where your current experience resides. It’s also not easy. It requires courage, tenacity and a healthy amount of stubbornness.
And it’s worth it.
In an age when our brains are rarely given an opportunity to rest outside of sleep, meditation gives you time and space to consciously rest and let the brain sift through the data it’s already received. This is crucial for both our health and our productivity.
To date, there have been over 3000 scientific studies done on the effects of meditation and there are thousands more in the works. What we’ve learned is tremendous. For instance, it’s been proven that meditation makes you more calm, empathetic and less-stressed overall. You will start to experience a wider perspectivebeyond the confines of your personal opinions and judgements. And for you entrepreneurs and business owners: Meditation is directly linked to being more effective and creative in the workplace.
One former CEO of a chemical plant in Detroit stated that by providing daily meditation practice times at his company over a three year period his company experienced these results: absenteeism fell by 85%, productivity rose 120%, injuries dropped 70%, and profits increased by 520%.
Hello. Is that not enough reason why to start a meditation practice?
With all the empirical evidence stacking up, it’s clear that meditation is good for business.
With that, I'll leave you with the fine words of Mark Twain:
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”
Amen, sir. Amen.