On Meditation

I have long been aware of the power of meditation but I have not always practiced this discipline with the consistency required to have the full impact of its natural benefits.

It was in college where I began this practice of spending my mornings in silence, alone with my own thoughts and feelings and all the mess that truly lies within. All my fears, my anxieties, my anger and frustration would boil to the surface along with my hopes and dreams and the emotions that surround family, friends, and loved ones.

It would be a sea of noise that, eventually, would quiet down into what I can only describe as pleasant nothingness. This took time and practice (like most things) and although I had found a nice steady-state it’s not something that’s easily mastered.

I have begun spending much more time recently in meditation. This is categorically different than prayer, which I do as well as it relates to my spiritual life, but meditation seems to me something altogether different in many, many ways.

Although it has strong roots with many forms of religion it does not necessarily require a religion to be effective. It can be an art within itself and has proven to be useful and invaluable to people from all walks of life. There are not only psychological benefits but medical professions has noted physiological ones as well. I can attest to both.

In fact, many high performers practice the discipline of meditation. I recently read an article featuring Kobe Bryant and Arianna Huffington where they both shared their use of meditation for high performance and productivity. I appreciate Kobe sharing a perspective that is still very much shared globally: That meditation is “hokey”:

It’s crazy to me that meditation is viewed as hokey. Just look at the people who’ve done phenomenal things. Do they meditate? Absolutely.

I’m not sure I’ve ever thought as meditation as “hokey” but I definitely thought it was weird and essentially useless at one point in my life, that’s for sure.

Meditation, again, is both an art and a science and to get started you must first practice the former while studying the latter. Getting started, though, is of utmost importance as it is through the act of practicing meditation that you will begin to understand the benefit.

Sitting quietly, for just 10 minutes, is all that it takes to start. This sounds like a short amount of time, and it is, but you will encounter a ton of challenges just to get to a place where you can start.

For instance, you’ll have to re-arrange your schedule and systematically turn off notifications and electronics. If you have family or kids you’ll have to find time and room to make sure that you won’t be interrupted. And if you’re an entrepreneur and/or in startup world you’ll have to just shut everything and everyone down for a bit.

This is easier said than done.

Then, finding a quiet room where you are guaranteed silence is really, really hard. If you live in the city this can be quite difficult as the hustle and bustle of the noises outside can become a wild distraction. You may not notice those noises now but the moment you are attempting silence it will be blaring in your ear drums.

I have often times retreated to the deepest recesses of my home, into a closet, and put towels and pillows against under the door to keep all of the noises out. This challenge is oftentimes the reason that many retreat to places in the country or far away from the city so that they can achieve real silence.

And to be honest, part of the act of meditation requires this exodus of not only the mind but of matter. The exercise is one that is attempting to change not just your perspective but the world around you. You are moving things out so that you can move within. You are changing your entire schedule so that you can be entirely removed from it. You are changing things so that you might be changed.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are the best days for me to meditate as both of my children are in school and my wife is resting or out doing work. The current office environment in the city also provides a decent retreat as I get there typically early in the morning before most people arrive and there are a few rooms that provide some very decent noise-reduction.

It’s not perfect nor optimal but the practice is one that’s important and valuable to me. I have often received many breakthroughs through a time of meditation as deep thought has allowed me to focus, concentrate, and access the depths of my thoughts unhindered.

Can I encourage you to try it? I think you’d find it more than just a fascinating exercise. And, in a world that is not slowing down (it’s getting way too fast) this brief moment of intentional braking goes a very long way.

Slight Update

One place that I’ve found, creatively-so, is the gym within my apartment complex. I go at a very different time, a little after most people are headed to work. Consequently, I am most-often alone and I can sit in the corner and find time to meditate there. It is pleasant, quiet, and I am very alone.

I’m also reworking my own meditation techniquesread more here!