Very often when I start working with clients, the concept of meditation can seem quite alien to them, and many think it’s impossible. This is the downside of our super-charged lifestyles; the body doesn’t know how to shut off. Practising mediation is quite simply learning to be still, to be quiet and to allow the body time to restore itself back to homeostasis and a place of calm.
There are a lot of preconceptions about meditation and what it means; I was very dismissive of it when I first came across it, thinking this wasn’t something I had time for or needed. The truth is, everyone would benefit from meditating, even if it’s only for ten minutes a day. The other misconception about meditation is that it involves being guided through a twenty-minute dream-like state, sitting in the Buddha position, or falling into a trance imagining yourself swimming with dolphins. Meditating is about taking the time to think about nothing else but your body and your breathing. Your mind should be still, your thoughts should be boxed away, and the best way to start is to focus on your breathing.
I was on a sales training day many years ago, and the sales director asked us all to sit in silence for several minutes and then make a note of the noises we could hear. Almost everyone came back with the same noises; passing traffic, pedestrians talking on their phones, the sounds of footfall on the pavement, the creaking of chairs, clothes rustling, and so on. No-one in the room (there were over 100 people there) said they heard the sounds of their breathing, despite it being the closest noise to them. This is because it’s something that we do automatically, and therefore we don’t hear it.
What meditating does is bring your attention back to your breathing, and to allow you to focus on yourself again. In the same way that none of the salespeople in the meeting noticed their breathing because they were focusing externally on the white noise around them, if you’re focusing on your breathing you automatically block out the white noise around you so you can fully focus. When asked about meditation and mindfulness, Steve Jobs of Apple said this “If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try and calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm… Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.”
Taken from my Amazon bestselling book ‘Rise and Shine: Recover from burnout and get back to your best’ out now.
This article first appeared in the May 2016 issue of SE22 magazine.