There are a lot of opinions about meditation and why one might practice meditation. Some are physiological, some psychological, many are spiritual or religious.
I find that the impact on focus and clarity regular meditation practice have on my business, as well as on my happiness and success, are so clear and overwhelmingly positive that I have made meditation practice a permanent part of my daily self-care routine and consider it to be an important contributing factor to the success of my business.
I’d referenced my own meditation practice in a couple Facebook posts recently and a coaching client asked me about meditation, so here we go.
I typically recommend my coaching clients try incorporating simple routine of quite reflection and focus into their daily lives and have received feedback that they frequently find the benefits to be invaluable (if unexpected) in time management, focus, clarity, and ability to connect with others.
Some are skeptical. Some are intimidated. Some are all in.
Here are a few tips I suggest for beginners getting started.
Know that there’s no right or wrong when it comes to meditation. We all get distracted. We all sneak peaks at the clock. And no, I cannot sit in full lotus either. It’s okay.
Start small. If you think you’re going to sit for an hour twice a day right off the bat you will likely get frustrated and not stick with it. Just set a goal to find 3-5 minutes for quiet 2-3 times a day. From there you can expand up to 20-30 minutes a couple times a day if it feels right.
Use a time with a gentle alert or chime. You don’t want to be distracted by trying to remain aware of how much time is left or trying to keep one eye on the clock. And you don’t want a loud jarring alarm to rip you from your relaxed meditative state. Trust me.
Be patient with yourself. I frequently describe the mind as a child asking questions all the time without ever quieting to listen for the answer, and meditation as our chance to say, “Hush. The answers will come when you stop and listen.”Meditation is your chance to shut up and listen for the answers to the questions your mind asks. Click To Tweet
Here are a few techniques I’ve used over the past couple years.
I got this technique from Gil Fronsdal speaking on the ZenCast a few years ago. You simply sit quietly and begin counting your breaths on the exhale from one to ten and then back down again. Repeat this cycle for as long as you decide to sit.
If you catch your mind drifting to random thoughts start over at one. If you lose track and skip or repeat a number start over at one. If you go from ten to eleven, instead of changing direction back down to 9, start over at one. When in doubt start over at one.
Just remember not to judge or chastise yourself. Simply start over and allow yourself to relax into the exercise.
The first time I did it I’m not sure I made it past 4 a single time in 5 minutes.
Like with the breath counting technique, sit quietly and breath deeply, just don’t count. Focus on the physical sensation of the breath and your awareness of your body and allow yourself to release tension, breath naturally, and remain focused. As you catch your mind drifting to random thoughts, or pulled toward outside noises, just allow yourself to refocus on the breath with a gentle reminder like calming a child for a nap. “Hush. We’ll talk when you awaken, for now it’s time to rest.”
In the video I talk about a couple of the different mantras I’ve experimented with, but in the end I think what’s important is that you’re giving your inner voice something to say. As with your physical mouth, you can only say one thing at a time, so if your inner voice has something to say it seems less likely to try to fill the void with it’s own random thoughts.
This is how I’m meditating right now and I really do like it. I recently heard someone describe breathing-focused meditation as giving a sensation of emptyness and mantra-focused meditation as giving a feeling of moving inward more deeply. I have to say I agree with these assessments.
I also find that while during breathing-focused meditation I’m more susceptible to random thoughts in the form of my inner voice, during mantra-focused meditation I’m more likely to experience my distractions as visualizations or almost like dreams, which I can easily pull myself back from and into focus by restarting the simple mantra.
In the video I talk about choosing a mantra and how to use it. (I found one I liked on the Self Help Robot site, but you can use Google to find many references.)
There are also a couple outtakes at the end of the video, so if you haven’t watched it yet, you should.
As I’ve learned how to use my time more effectively and get paid better for it, I’ve put together a simple process to increase the value of your time. If finding the time to meditate is one of your challenges, email me at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to send you a copy. I’ll even jump on a quick call with you to talk through how you can customize and implement the process in your own life.
If you have any thoughts, feedback, or questions please don’t hesitate to reach out. This topic came from a question from a coaching client and I’m happy to answer your questions as well. Just let me know what I can do to help.