Step 62 – What’s the deal with meditation?

Hawaii 2018

I don’t know what it’s like everywhere else, but here in the US, meditation has become very popular, to the point where companies hire teachers to give meditation classes to their employees. 

Before I start, let me just deal with a few myths. You don’t have to be a Buddhist, a vegan or a hippie (or all three of them at once) to do it. Meditation is for everyone and it can be done in different ways. You don’t have to sit in a lotus position; you can also lay down or be in an embryonic position. You can listen to a guided meditation, to the music or you can sit in silence. You can go to a meditation class or do it at home or in a sauna or with friends. It’s about breathing and being in the moment, not distracted by anything. It’s all about calming yourself and your mind down.

So why is meditation important? I can talk only about my experience. Eight months ago, I wasn’t able to sit still for 10 minutes and meditate. I just couldn’t. I sat down, put the timer on and my mind was going in all directions. I thought that you needed some specific skill that you are either born with or not. And I thought I wasn’t. But it started changing. Nine months ago, I gave up TV and internet in my apartment and I noticed that two months in I started calming down. And I also noticed that I was finally able to sit still for 10 minutes. My mind was still going to different places, but that 10 minutes didn’t feel like eternity anymore. After two weeks, I added another five minutes. After some time, I added some additional time. 

Why did I even start doing this? Almost all of the people I admire (some of them were interviewed by Tim Ferris in “Tribe of Mentors”) have mentioned meditation as a key element of their success. They keep saying that meditation has improved their lives, businesses, and relationships. And because I want all these things as well, I decided that I really need to start meditating, too.  As I said – the beginning was rough. Yes, I started doing this regularly in January, but I had many failed attempts the previous year. If it wasn’t for changing my habits (more books and writing, less TV and internet), I don’t think I would’ve been able to succeed. 

Why am I doing it? First of all – I noticed it really did calm me down. Because of the pace of my life, I always felt like my mind was all over the place – that has changed now. I’m able to do one thing at the time and not occupy my mind with five things that are not that important at that moment. My mind is clear. It’s not distracted anymore. I’m not anxious about tomorrow anymore; I just know it will be taken care of. I’ve also improved my focus. My breathing improved, too. I do it every day around 8 pm, just before I go to bed. It’s my new habit. It helps me to fall asleep right away. I wake up very relaxed, breathing deeply, instead of having this shallow, anxious breath. And what’s most important – I’ve learned to really live in the moment.

Today, I meditate an hour daily. I’ve been meditating for an hour since July. I’d been doing 45 minutes for some time, but suddenly it wasn’t enough. If I miss a day (which happens very rarely), I do feel it. I’m different. My behavior is different. I’m not “fully charged.” And I realized, again, that it’s not that I wasn’t capable of meditating as I used to think. Meditating is like a muscle that you have to flex. It’s a habit that anyone can develop. You just need to do it regularly. I wasn’t able to do it for 5 minutes a year ago, and now I need an hour. So again, before you say “I can’t,” give it a shot. Do it for eight weeks (this is how much time you need to develop a habit). It’s not rocket science. It’s just sitting, without your phone in your hand and without the need to doing “something.” Here is your task – do nothing, close your eyes and just breathe. Just for five minutes. And do it every day for eight weeks. It’s just five minutes. That’s it. That is all you need to change your perspective.