Meditation – What is it? What does it do?

Bushy Park Meditation

I listen to plenty of podcasts. Many are about health, fitness, business and entrepreneurship. When people on these podcasts are asked – “What’s the one thing that made a profound change in your life?” The answer is often meditation.

After hearing this answer so many times I had to see what the panacea for a successful (1), wholesome life was! I downloaded the free Headspace app and tried the Take 10 (Ten 10 minutes guided introductory sessions) pack. I liked it and following that, I became a fully paid up subscriber and have now been meditating (on and off) for around a year. (2)

So what’s the science?

Headspace has handily put together a lovely page explaining the benefits and the research behind it.

There’s medical evidence that meditation reduces stress and anxiety and improves creativity, focus and your relationships.

How do you do it?

The premise is simple.

  • Sit comfortably
  • Set a timer (10-20 mins)
  • Close your eyes
  • At the start, breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth (then just breath as normal)
  • Focus on your breathing
  • If (or when) a thought comes into your head, just note it quietly and go back to focusing on your breathing
  • Maintain until the timer goes off.

It sounds pretty frickin’ amazing and really simple. Why’s everyone not doing it?

On Episode 238 of the Rich Roll podcast, Griff Whalen, a Vegan NFL player brought up meditation and said

“It’s hard for me”

To which Rich replied

“Everyone thinks they’re the outlier……..It’s hard for everybody”

So why’s it so hard?

‘Cause your brain is going a million miles an hour all the time. Part of this is the busyness epidemic and why meditation has become more popular as people are more frazzled. The other part is that however much you try; you just can’t turn your brain off. You can’t keep it quiet.

Oh! So you can be bad at meditating?

That’s the point. You can’t be bad at meditating. Meditation is not about clearing your mind. As you do it more and “improve”, I guess you do less thinking, are quicker to note your thoughts and your brain is less of a scrambled mess of to-do lists.

What you can be bad at, is regularly meditating. Forgetting to meditate or missing meditation is a common thing. One missed day turns into one missed week and you feel like you have to start all over again.

What have you found of benefit?

I know it sounds a bit Zen, but I just feel a lot calmer. I’m not as reactive; it shuts the chimp up for a bit, and it’s just a good, refreshing and positive way to start the day. Taking 10 minutes to yourself before your day starts is therapeutic.

Any little tips you’ve found?

Do it first thing in the morning – If you leave it until the evening. You will either fall asleep whilst doing it or not do it at all by putting it off to the following morning. Procrastination!

Find a quiet place – It really does help. Hence why the morning is good.

Doing 10 minutes is fine – If 10 is too much, start with 2.

Don’t get frustrated – Your mind will wander. Having thoughts is normal. Just note them and focus on the breathing again.

Don’t jump up once you have finished – Take a little time to appreciate the mediation and transition into your day.

For more information

Try 10% Happier which describes itself as – Mediation of Fidgety Sceptics

An interview with Andy Puddicombe on the Rich Roll podcast

Or his Ted Talk

Happy Meditating!

Footnotes

  1. Meditation is not guaranteed to make you successful!
  2. Doesn’t mean that I meditated everyday – my best run was probably 5 days.

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