Meditation For People Who Hate Meditation
If you love feeling good, literally lighting up all over with a body buzz - you’ll love meditation. If you love the idea of walking into any situation with a sense of confidence and perspective, you’ll love meditation. If you love the idea of having both these things without the use of drugs and alcohol (the worst drug of all), you’ll love the personal high you’ll get from meditation.
There’s a reason you associate meditation with hippie culture. If you’re like me circa three years ago, ‘meditation’ incites the same kind of rage as when you hear ‘vegans’: you cringe as if their decision was an attack on your personal safety and say ‘yeah, screw that, that’s not for me’. Such hateful skepticism directed toward people who are just trying to save the planet! Damn, Daniel. Whatever your personal reservations are about meditation (or veganism - but that’s not what this article is about), I’d like weasel my way into your mind and incept you with an alternate understanding of the thing you haven’t tried that is going to save your life (or at the very least make it a percentage more livable).
When I first started meditating three years ago, I needed it - badly. I had just ended a significant relationship which ended much sooner than I was prepared for, and I’d just left the comfort of an amazing job to start a new job that challenged my ability to stomach petty office politics and seemed to take me away from where I belonged. I also, at 27 and pushing 30, still didn’t know were I belonged. My ability to think clearly was but a distant dream, my mind presumably resembling a ball of yarn, batted around occasionally by a cat with adult ADD. Then I stumbled upon Headspace.
Headspace is a paid app that introduces users to meditation in a free 10 day trial, and encourages new thinking and behaviour styles through animated and live video modules that, if followed, can help achieve results in desired areas of life, such as Communication, Trust, Forgiveness, Self-Esteem, etc. At my wits end, I tried the free trial, committed to not spending the $20/mo. subscription charge at the end of it. IT’S HARD OUT HERE FOR A PIMP. However, I felt so calm by the end of the first week, I knew I had to continue. I knew I had to also pay the fee to force myself to continue this positive activity that just months before I thought of as ‘a waste of goddamn time’.
I was (and still am) a busy body. I’ve always filled my plate with loads of projects and people with no rest in between. My enthusiasm for ideas, people, places, things is only partly responsible for this busy-ness. I now see that hiding behind my enthusiasm is a drive to not focus on myself. Although I had some idea of who I was (general interests, likes, and dislikes), I had no clue why I was doing anything that I was doing. I had no idea why I was choosing certain jobs, projects, and partners. I had no idea what my motivation was, because I never took the time to look inward.
When I started meditation, I started creating the daily practice of giving myself space to just listen. To unwind my mind and see what would come out of it. This started off with just 5 minutes a day until 5 minutes seemed too short. Then I increased to 10 minutes, then 15, then 20, then 30, then 40, then 1 hour.
Consider it like training for a marathon. Many people can decide they want to run a full marathon right away, and they succeed or fail, but almost always they’ll feel fatigued and less likely to endure it again, because they didn’t learn to love the process and prepare their muscles to handle the intensity. People who train for marathons over time start small and increase their distance over time. They become more effective, and they feel the rewards of building it into their lifestyle.
It’s not just about the marathon, but it’s about the process of skill development and oftentimes community building they gain along the way that is the most life-changing. Meditation is easier the longer you commit to consistent practice like anything else. It’s not something you should be struggling to fit into your day, but a decision you make to gradually make something a part of your life.
Here are some tips to push you in the right direction:
When you start off ‘not having any time’, choose only to commit to what you can handle: 5 Minutes a day or less.
Set an alarm for when you will do it. Try for once in the morning, once in the evening.
During meditation, your only job is to sit and listen. Watch your breath.
When you notice you get caught up in thought, always bring it back to your breath.
When you drift in thought, tell yourself it’s okay, it’s normal, and just come back to center.
Do this over and over.
When you are in your center, watching your breath, you can begin to feel the inner workings of your body over time. Your blood circulating, your heart beating, and other sensations. Watch those, and feel how amazing they are, truly appreciating them.
When you are ready to increase your time, you will know. There is no guideline.
Through this ongoing practice of slowing down, watching breath, noticing thoughts, feeling your body - you begin to develop a better understanding of your mind and the depth of your motivations. You learn how to be present with a single act of intentionally sitting, and that action leads to other intentional acts in your personal and professional life. Meditation isn’t just a ‘boring’ thing sanctimonious people who write blogs do. It’s something every single person on the planet can do in the privacy of their own homes, either practicing sitting silently or simply being intentional (present, and not thinking about 15 billion other things) in your actions to create space and clarity in the mind, leading to better decisions in the world. Those are real world individual and global benefits.
You find that instead of accepting jobs that hide your value, you can intentionally choose a job where you can be seen and voice can be heard; instead of defaulting to low impact projects to hide your talent from criticism, you can start intentionally choosing high profile projects with lots of reach to share your talents; instead of falling into dramatic unfulfilling partnerships that only value certain aspects of you because you don’t know your worth, you intentionally choose partners that see all of you and consistently re-energize you. You discover all the things you want and the bravery you need to launch yourself into that life. I think that’s something we all could afford to make some time for.
Sit and meditate for 5 Minutes in the morning (before you have breakfast or head out to work) and evening (before bed) for the next 3 days.
Note how you felt, relaxing every part of your body from the top of your head to your feet, and working your way back up again.