The Distracted Men’s Guide to Meditation by Joe Levy is a wonderful post. Be honest, if meditation was a pill you would want it. If it were a workout, you would probably be doing it already. You've heard all about the much touted stress relief skills. You read that it boosts immunity, regulates sleep, and improves memory, focus, and your gray matter. They know successful, smart people do (Kobe Bryant, Novak Djokovic, Jerry Seinfeld, those geniuses at Google who call their internal meditation class "Neural Self-Hacking").
You know all of this, but almost certainly you are not meditating.
Why? "There are three things," says Dan Harris, the ABC News correspondent, who recorded his encounter with meditation in the highly skeptical (and very funny) memoir 10% Happier. “The first is that guys think it's bullshit – that you have to wear your yoga pants or your wife's singing. The second is that people assume it's impossible:“ My mind is too busy. ”Last, explained Harris, is that men assume that meditation is all about being gentle, that it will take their edge off.
Meditation for marathon runners
"The art of meditation has served us badly," he says. “It shows people floating into the cosmos with those blissful looks on their faces. that sucks. "Harris believes meditation is more like a trip to the gym. It should feel like work, and if it doesn't, you are likely cheating.
The workout metaphor is particularly apt. You should view meditation as an exercise, not magic or religion. Take off the spiritual yada yada – the bells, the incense, your aunt in the oversized purple sweatshirt who always tells you that your chakras are blocked – and meditation only trains your mind instead of your quads.
This is why meditation has at least as much in common with CrossFit: it gets difficult at first, and both the challenges and the rewards will increase over time. "It's easy, but not easy," says Lodro Rinzler, meditation teacher and co-founder of mndfl, a studio that takes a streamlined boutique fitness approach to meditation. "People think if the mind wanders, they're doing it wrong," he says. "All thoughts wander. Be prepared – the spirit is a wild animal."
What makes meditation easy is that, according to Rinzler, you only have to take three steps: sit in a relaxed, elevated position ("You don't have to sit in the perfect lotus. You can sit in a chair"); Bring your full attention to your breath. When your attention is lost, as it surely will be, return to the breath.
The Not Easy Part: Trying to focus on your breath without knowing what went wrong at work yesterday, or what you have for dinner later tonight, or why they didn't give Gal Gadot a bigger stake in Batman v Superman (or why – now that we talk about it – they don't just give Gal Gadot a bigger role in every movie) is pretty much impossible.
"The mind goes 100 miles an hour all the time," says Rinzler. “To think,“ I meditate, it should go to zero ”is unrealistic. It is a gradual taming of the mind.“ That is taming – not emptying. "You will be lost a million times," says Harris. “You can notice the whole game when you get distracted and start over – over and over and over again. Every time you do, it's a lock of biceps for your brain. "
If you think you are too ADD, nervous, or fidgety for meditation, think again. "Asking the mind to switch off is like asking the heart to stop beating – it won't happen, and it wouldn't be healthy if it did," says Rinzler. In fact, he calls those moments when you catch yourself thinking "the golden opportunity". Returning to the breath over and over again trains the mind to be rooted in the present, not the past (work), the future (dinner), or the imagination (Gal Gadot). In this way, mindfulness is a bit like being more awake: there is less fear and more action.
A 10 minute meditation session for beginners
You don't need years of practice to achieve this. A study by researchers from Harvard at Massachusetts General Hospital showed detectable neuronal changes after eight weeks in subjects who meditated an average of 27 minutes per day. There was an increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus, which helps with learning and memory, and a decrease in the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with anxiety, stress, and anxiety. Meditate regularly, and research shows you can even increase brain volume in areas that normally get thinner with age.
At this point you might think, "There is no way I have time to meditate 27 minutes a day." You don't need to. You can feel the results of the meditation almost immediately.
We can get started right away if you have 19 seconds. Inhale as you count to four, hold that breath for seven, and then exhale for eight. Congratulations, you have just meditated. You're probably just feeling a little calmer – that's the relaxation response – and you've taken your first baby step into the most popular form of meditation called "focused attention," where you focus your attention on an object that is holding your breath. Turn those 19 seconds into a few minutes by simply repeating the sequence. They fuel your parasympathetic nervous system – the opposite of your fight or flight reflexes – which can improve relaxation, digestion, and recovery from exercise. Ta-da.
I had tried to meditate before. About a year and a half ago, I attended 15 sessions at Path, a meditation group in New York. I was surprised that the hour-long 8 o'clock classes – or seating as they are called in the meditation world – weren't any more difficult. (My foot fell asleep, but I didn't.) Even so, I didn't see much in terms of change. And every time one of the organizers spoke seriously about taking our experiences home and setting up a regular practice ("maybe just five minutes a day"), I felt the same as I did as a teenager after the dental hygienist included a cleaning little had finished wisdom about the importance of floss. Of course you are right! That will not happen!
It turned out that skipping the regular meditation was almost certainly the reason I didn't get much out of my 15 hours on the trail, other than some free herbal tea and a bit of rest the minutes after I got to my desk was gone. "Consistency is the greatest," says Andy Puddicombe, a 43-year-old former Buddhist monk and co-creator of the meditation app Headspace. Its app, which has been downloaded over 6 million times and has over 5 million active users, bills itself as a "Mind Gym Membership," with the program acting as a personal trainer. "The analogy is for physical exercise – go two hours (to the gym) once a week and you probably won't see many benefits," he says. "Walk for half an hour every day and it's far more likely that not only will you develop the habit, but you'll also get lasting results."
One of the many things that Headspace is easy to hold on to is that it doesn't even take half an hour – just 10 minutes. To keep you motivated, the app uses some of the same adherence tools as activity monitors like Fitbit (emails congratulating you on your progress; many "run streaks" or consecutive meditation days; mindfulness push notifications to keep you motivated to increase). And it's content-driven, and that content makes the hard work of meditation almost absurdly inviting and clear. The first 10 sessions contain animations that look like a Zen version of Pixar. They illustrate prescriptions for recognizing your thoughts, and then let them go over cartoons to learn how to watch the traffic instead of running in and chasing cars. Inhale, think, and then just let it go away.
The app also offers sessions for activities like commuting, cooking, and running, designed to help you bring mindfulness into the part of your life that occurs when you're not sitting with your eyes closed. The gait exercises were a real eye opener and not complicated – I just focused on my steps like I would do my breath.
I was only a few weeks old when I noticed small changes that felt strangely impressive. I left less dishes in the sink (because I was starting to sense the feeling of fear of a growing pile of dirty dishes) and watched less TV (because it suddenly seemed ridiculous to use it as a soundtrack to scroll through Twitter and Facebook), and I haven't argued with my wife that often about little things. It felt like there was a fraction more space between my thoughts and my mouth, and I didn't have to pronounce every thought to have it. I wasn't the only one to notice my calmer, more approachable self. For my birthday my wife told me we were going to Montreal, a reward, I thought, for my new behavior. (I had suggested the trip several times, but never managed to get it on board.)
The changes seemed surprisingly quick, and I wondered if it was a placebo effect. I asked Harris and he told me he went through something similar. "The initial benefits lasted a couple of weeks," he says. "The first data point for me is that I would eavesdrop on my wife at parties if I told people I'm less of an asshole." But when the dishes were ready and I was rewarded with a trip I had given up, why argue with success?
What came next didn't feel successful at all: all of this awareness was building up and I felt overwhelmed by it. One of the benefits of mindfulness is the ability to explain my feelings without sarcasm. The downside is that I'm more in touch with these feelings, including a lot of anger I'd learned to vote with on television, bourbon, and loud music (or all three at the same time). Inside of me felt like they were sweating – a strange internal struggle that no one else could see – which was an experience nowhere near as fun as cleaning dishes.
According to Harris, this is a second level meditation problem. "You come over your back, you do it every day and then you notice moments when your wife says something angry – you now have the confidence to recognize that your skin is crawling." The old man would have made an acidic remark without thinking. But now you have what Harris calls a superpower: mindfulness. "You feel the urge to say something that will ruin the next 48 hours of your marriage – but you know it and have a choice." Make a decision to acknowledge your feelings, then let go of them and you are on your way to level three. We hope he's right. We're going to Montreal in 12 days.
Looking for more resources for mindfulness. Check out the Art of Mindfulness: Why Mindfulness Is Important.
I was lucky enough to have started a moving meditation with Tai Chi at a young age. By practicing tai chi for over 25 years, I have been able to lay a solid foundation to support the most important aspect of EQ development, which is attention training.
If you are interested in helping yourself or helping the teams you manage, you can learn more about EQ training using the links below.
- What is EQ?
- Emotional Intelligence Training Course
- Learn to meditate with the Just6 app
- Meditation and science
- 7 reasons why emotional intelligence is fast becoming one of the most sought-after professional skills
- The Secret to High Salary Emotional Intelligence
- How to bring mindfulness to your employee wellness program
- Google search within yourself