We should all meditate more.
Sure you may say, "Easy for you, you're already a pro at it." Or "Yeah, I've heard that it helps but I'm just not interested" or "I've tried that, truth be told, I've tried several different types and failed each time."
Why would I say such a thing, then?
Here's a short list:
When I meditate I:
- Get better quality deep sleep which has proven true over and over when I track my sleep
- Procrastinate less because I slept better
- Am 30% -40% less stressed, and this lowered stress level compounds nicely
- Drink less often which means I stay better hydrated the following day and have fewer nights and mornings where I wake up with a headache
- Workout more often for many reasons in this virtuous cycle, a few of which are that I'm better hydrated more often, I slept better the night before so I have more energy, which allowed me to work more efficiently throughout my day and thus achieve more, and feel better about my achievement.
- Eat better, snack less, and eat late less on the whole which leads to going to bed sooner and sleeping better since the body is not stuck in a state of digestion throughout the night, leading to poor sleep
- Naturally wake up earlier which leads to calm, steady focus - and like a fire that burns lower, it also burns longer which allows me to work marathon days since stress does not zap my energy
- Am immeasurably more creative and get 30% more done each day, which compounds nicely
- Make better decisions and plan better which leads to more presence, more happiness, more fulfillment. This is a big one: How much avoidable nonsense to yourself and those around you do you think you cause by trying to organize a party or vacation with friends and doing so without clarity? Much of this stress and strain can be avoided and filled in or replaced by peace, satisfaction, gratefulness for the successful trip, happiness.
This probably sounds too good to be true, you’re thinking.
It isn’t. And it isn’t hard either, you don't even have to dress in all white like photos you commonly see such as this one. More importantly, you'll know it feels right when you find it is something you look forward to doing. It just takes a few key insights and the repetition to build the habit. From there the habit takes care of you.
Ok, that sounds great, but… How do I know I am “doing it right?”
Well, to be perfectly honest, at first you won’t be, but here’s the thing that’s ok. This is not wasted time and it is important not to view it as such. What is it then? It is practice. It is investment. It is investment in your future ability. So yes it is ok to not reach the place of “no mind” where thanks to your mantra or focus on observation of breathe that your thoughts cease, and just because you don’t get it right at first, and probably not for the first few sessions, to the first few weeks of sessions - at least for a few minutes.
But then you may ask, when I am doing it right, how will I know then, what will it feel like?
This raises a great question. Many people find that when they really think about it, no one has ever explained the feeling, the place, the benefit. The best way to tell you are getting somewhere tangible that will impact your mental state positively is to feel that sitting down to mediate feels like a respite, a safe, secure, calm, accepting place where everything is at peace, where there is both acceptance to what is, and a lowering on the volume knob of importance/stress since stress after all, is by definition, resistance to what is.
Sometimes, a blissful state begins to build as your session gets underway. At this point you’ve likely crossed into a more favorable brainwave state such as alpha or gamma which can be measured by a few of the more advanced personal electronic devices on the market today but before you let the the consumerism instinct kick in, just know that once you’ve achieved this state even once, you will want to return to it again and again. So in many ways the practice, even before it becomes a habit, has a universal tug built in, it comes complete with its own gravitational force that tugs your sleeve at the end of hard, nonstop days, or prior to beginning work days that fill you with overwhelming amounts of anxiety.
Does meditation reduce anxiety or nervousness?
To answer this question let’s first explore the question: Where does anxiety come from or what causes it? Anxiety in my experience can also be stated as resistance to what is. It is a pushing away or refusal of the present. It is also (almost always) linked to a lack of presence, which is not a tangible concept, admittedly, for most people since most people are often so busy rushing around that they never allow it in. Some might say in fact, that the reason we fuel ourselves with busyness and soothe ourselves with pleasurable things is, at least to some degree to escape whatever is it we may find if we embark on a journey of self-exploration. In short, yes it does which helps you regain your composure after morning meetings that have you feeling like this photo.
Why is there so much fear surrounding meditation?
We fear what we don’t understand, this is true. We also fear that which we know, that which we are faintly aware of, but have not explored. So many parts of us have not been examined and as a tool for consciousness, nothing consistently, in every session comes close to an “examination radar” as meditation, though yoga, breathwork, and intense workouts certainly have their place.
That being said it takes courage to be alone with our thoughts. It takes courage to allow ourselves to relax so completely for fear of either the unknown, or that some forgotten past experience (keyword here is past) may resurface.
This is, in my opinion, the #1 reason why most people will never allow themselves to slow down enough to tune into what they need most. Fear of the unknown is powerful, and yet once it is overcome it is not merely not there anymore, it is transmuted into bliss - a similar feeling to crossing the finish line of a marathon. That feeling after is the reason experienced meditators like myself return everyday like clockwork to sit and reflect, or if we are a little lucky, achieve an pleasant, altered state sometimes bordering on or reaching ecstasis where presence in the moment mounts and anxiety drops away since it is rooted outside of presence. The way to overcome is to do. There is no other path.
What form of meditation is best to practice for beginners, what form of meditation is best to practice for experienced meditators?
Forms of meditation become, like sacred cows, to people. Understandably so. Think about it. If a particular form or type is the sole reason you either occasionally or regularly experience ecstasis simply by sitting quietly for a matter of minutes, wouldn’t that make you want to tell everyone the good news, and in the process possibly swear off other forms that you may not have even tried or become skilled at? Of course. We are only humans. Afterall, our memories are not nearly as close to perfect as we would like to think or remember, and this doesn’t begin to touch on the dozens of well-documented cognitive biases we all experience.
That said, everyone has a favorite and what has worked best for me after trying every type I heard of I finally paid the fee for training in TM or Transcendental Meditation. This style has been made famous by many incredibly successful people, in many all walks of life, so then is it worth the gamble of time and money? Probably so. In my own life I noticed that within the first month or so of doing TM (after trying other methods for 3 years prior) that it had already paid for itself by the better decisions I made across the board. I was less reactive. I evaluated options with greater clarity and with more perspective.
How does it work?
TM is a mantra style of meditation. The concept is that by choosing a sound, usually in another language that holds no meaning to you, you are able repeat it to yourself. Why does this work? Science has shown that we can entertain only one conscious per moment so by speaking the mantra we choose the sound and say it at a pace which leads all else, all other thoughts, worries, and much emotional pain and suffering to fall away. By speaking the mantra to yourself internally, silently, you can transcend upwards into a higher, peak state of being. By doing this regularly we clear out ourselves emotionally to the point that we are able to heal existing trauma bit by bit from a relaxed place by coming to peace with it.
The result is often calmness, loads of creativity, and inspired joy.
Meditation it seems then, is worth the time invested. In truth it is the practice with the single greatest ROI I have ever experienced.
Give it a shot today, right now, and begin on the path to Live Optimally as we say here at Upgraded Formulas.
Founder, Nutritionist, and Meditator at Upgraded Formulas