Over the last year and a half I have explored the act of meditating and what I have found is it is an exercise just like cycling, running, swimming or any other type of effort and in many instances I have discovered that it’s harder than doing all of them. What I have come to realize recently is this is the intent, that it’s an exercise and not something that you master or ever will.
I never considered meditating until I listened to Andy Puddicombe, the founder of the Headspace guided meditation app, who was a guest on of course, the Rich Roll podcast. His story is quite extraordinary and you can listen to that story on the podcast link here. After the show I downloaded the app and decided to give it a go. The first 10 guided meditations are free and if interested you can purchase all of the content within the app. What is nice is you can simply repeat the first 10 for free.
I started to do the meditations and found Andy’s explanations easy to follow and his use of analogies extremely helpful. What I found difficult was the ability to be mindful during the 10 minutes, often drifting off to think about what I was doing next, the challenge I faced earlier in the day, what I was going to have for dinner, and the list goes on. What I didn’t realize at the time and no fault of Andy is it’s just part of the evolution and drifting off will always occur. The success is being able to recognize it and bring yourself back.
The second difficult thing I realized and I am still challenged with is being consistent meaning doing the exercise on a regular basis. I still am challenged with this. One tip I have heard from several practitioners is to find a time in the day that you can stick to and develop the habit. It seems that many have found doing it as soon as they wake up as being the easiest to keep to as once the day gets going anything can happen and when you are trying to build a habit, the muscle memory just isn’t strong enough to stick. I am still searching for this consistency.
What I have found helpful in my education of meditation and being mindful is listening to podcasts on the subject and reading books. Just learning more about it has me inching along in my progress even if I’m not meditating on a daily basis.
Since beginning the journey, I also was referred the book, 10% Happier by Dan Harris. Dan is a correspondent for ABC News, an anchor for Nightline and co-anchor for the weekend edition of Good Morning America and had a famous panic attack on Good Morning America that made him reevaluate many things in his life. The book tells about his experiences and how he found meditation and continues to practice.
In December he published his second book, Meditation for Fidgetity Skeptics, Dan “debunks all the myths, misconceptions, and self-deceptions that keep you from meditating so you’ll quit procrastinating and get your butt on the cushion.” I have started this book and I like it more than the first. This one is tactical and I’m learning a lot. The most significant learning is this is tough, don’t beat yourself up, and simply recognizing that you have drifted off is a success, not a failure. Identifying that drift is the exercise…huge!
Dan also has an app that is free for the first 10 exercises and I think they are fantastic! You can learn more on Dan’s website.
I can confidently say that by learning through the resources mentioned here I have handled situations differently. Not all the time but I am much better about recognizing when I should apply these techniques. Some are reactive and some proactive. I have used these techniques prior to my triathlons and run races to get very focused on the goal at hand and to settle the mind and breathing right as the race is to start, especially the swim for the triathlons.
At work and other situations where things just seem to happen, I’ve inconsistently been able to recognize when to apply the techniques and when I do, I have found myself handling the situations much more productively and with less self perceived stress. As mentioned I’ve been inconsistent here but that’s better than not at all prior to exploring these techniques.
This blog has helped me document several resources that I have found useful in developing the mind and you can find these on the tab above titled, Mind. I hope you can find some benefit from these and let me know what works for you.
– Add Health to Your Life