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Mindfulness Meditation has profound implications for your career, home-life and general happiness. Specifically I’ve found it really effective at reducing stress and anxiety from my work and home life.

The truth is, mindfulness meditation has been getting a bad rap and image for decades. When you think of meditation what do you see? I see robe-wearing spiritualists or hippies that have no connection to the actual real world. I thought I was too type A and too busy to meditate.  Besides, I was not interested in superstitious practices that result in “enlightenment”.

Now picture high powered CEOs, professional sports teams and other highly successful types.  These are the real faces of mindfulness meditation today (examples here and here).

Granted there are other types of meditation that are spiritual based, however, you can’t get any more practical than mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of investigating and training your mind.

For the majority of us- our days, actions and feelings are hopelessly guided by a string of thoughts, images and emotions generated by our minds.  This string of thoughts and internal dialogue is a never ending flow that cascades through our minds. The mistake we make is that we internalize this dialogue as if it was our own, not something separate.

What is interesting is that we as humans, possess this next level, above thinking, that allows us to observe our thoughts and emotions, independent of them. Taxonomically we are considered Homo Sapien Sapiens. This extra “Sapiens” is an important addition- the full meaning is – “he who thinks and knows he’s thinking“.

Mindfulness Meditation Introduction 2

Unlike almost all others in the animal kingdom, we have the unique ability to observe the flow of conscious thought as it’s happening. Mindfulness meditation is the practice of observing our thoughts and emotions as they occur, so we can have the choice to act on or simply discard them.  This has huge implications as it will allow us to proactively manage stress and other emotions as they materialize. The first step in unlocking this ability is to understand the nature of our minds.

My mind is an idiot. So Is Yours.

My mind is an insane, illogical, frantic, worry-wort that will not shut the hell up. This realization came within the first few times I practiced meditation. Here is a graphical depiction of the anarchy that is my consciousness:

Mindfulness Meditation Mind

 

The first common big breakthrough for those who start mindfulness meditation is to realize how overwhelming, illogical and inconsistent their minds are. Once this realization is made, it opens the door for the meditator to observe their mind more deeply and realize who the real driver of their actions are.

My whole life my idiot mind has been in the driver seat and I let it take me wherever it was going. A common analogy in meditation is that the mind is an elephant and our true-selves, the mindful person, is the rider of the elephant. Without meditation practice, the elephant (the mind) runs wild and we (the riders) are subjected to wherever it goes. The mindful person has trained and controls the elephant, guiding it when necessary in the best interests of the person.

Whether its being overly stressed at work, struggling with focus, saying that embarassing thing to your boss, or eating that tenth cookie, the uncontrolled elephant (your mind) is the culprit and it must be tamed.

Start your meditation journey here – A five minute meditation (audio included).

Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation

 

The benefits of mindfulness meditation are far reaching and there are five practical benefits that I noticed after a few months of practice:

  • Increase focus and effectiveness at work. The ability to wholly dedicate ones attention to a particular task is a skill that can be developed. Practicing meditation is the best exercise for this out there.
  • Keep calm under pressure at work.  And I do not just mean the perception of being calm under pressure. I mean the ability to genuinely be at ease in very stressful situations and deadlines.
  • Realize how crazy your mind is and question why you’ve been listening to it for so long. Joseph Goldstien, a world reknown meditator, jokes that his mind gives him a really good thought once in every ten years or so. I personally was blown away with how many bad and illogical thoughts passed through my mind each day. Now I’ve grown to laugh at the tendencies of my mind, instead of blindly being guided by them.
  • Ability to “respond, not react”. This practice gives us the ability to mindfully respond to situations instead of blindly reacting to them. In example- a mindful person will know, because she is in-tune with her mind, when anger or stress is starting to cultivate in her mind. Instead of letting the emotion inhabit her completely, she can pause and analyze the string of thoughts that led to this change. Many times this process enlightens the non-importance of the situation in question and eases the mind. Strong leaders do not let emotions affect their performance and being mindful is the most effective way to have control.
  • Realize how insignificant a thought actually is. As you study deeper into your mind you will start to realize that thoughts, in and of themselves, do not contain any power or worth. They are only as meaningful as the worth we assign them. This is a game-changer because when we are not mindful of our thoughts, they can have huge impacts on our decision process and emotional states.

The goal is to use the insights learned during meditation practice in our daily lives and work. To start reaping the benefits of mindfulness meditation I suggest starting with five minute meditations, once per day, for a week or two. Gradually increase the duration to ten minutes over the next month.  I posted a five minute guided meditation that both beginners and experienced meditators can use–

Start your meditation journey here – A five minute meditation (audio included).

As you develop, one of my favorite apps for meditating is a free app called Insight Timer. It has hundreds of guided meditations and a nifty timer that you can use.

Hows your meditation practice going?  Any benefits you can share?

Eric