I've been in my head lately and I've been trying to find my way out. After excessive thought chaos a solution to my mental stress presented itself in the form of meditation. I've had an on and off relationship with meditation and I know I haven't been loyal, but I need it. So do you. I'll tell you why.
Focus and mental clarity🧠
Daily meditation, without question, levels 🆙 my mental game. I feel sharp, fluid and calm. The mental energy I derive from morning meditation feels just as good as Starbucks coffee on a cold winter morning🥶. It picks me up and provides me with supreme verve and focus.
Anxiety suppression 😌
Meditation has helped me channel my inner Bruce Lee - 'Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.' My interpretation of this quote is go with the flow, be flexible and adaptable to whatever situation you find yourself in. I try not to be anxious about about anything because if it's meant to happen, it will. If it isn't, it won't. In-between all of that I remain formless, shapeless, like water.
That urge to respond when you feel verbally provoked? Consistent meditation will reign in that impulse. You're less likely to have an emotional outburst when your mind has been decluttered. You'll become fully aware of what it really means to think before you talk.
It's simple; sit down and keep your mind quiet for 20 minutes per day. That's it. Well, that's the summary of it all but there's various forms of meditation and many make it out to be more complicated than it really is. What works for me and likely anyone else yet to attain monk status is sitting down somewhere dark and quiet, back upright, chin up, eyes closed and you taking deep, long breaths into your belly and slowly releasing your breath out through your nose. Rinse, repeat. Maintain focus on your breathing, and only your breathing for 20 minutes straight. The idea behind meditating like this is to quiet the mind and this approach was concisely explained by J.J. Connolly — 'Meditation is concentrating the front of the mind with a mundane task so the rest of the mind can find peace.' It's simple, but it's not easy and those that find the practice unbearably boring have the untamed minds that actually need it the most.
Why 20 minutes? Because that's the sweet spot to derive any real benefits from the practice. 1 minute, 2 minute, 5 minute 'mini' meditation does the same for your mental wellbeing as jogging from your front door to your backdoor does for your physical wellbeing. Next to nothing. Put in the time if you want results.
Anywhere dark, quiet with a firm and comfortable surface. I typically meditate on a stool. This works for me and I'm sticking to it. If you're in the zone and you can handle it, then please, by all means, do what you see monks and other meditation enthusiasts do 🧘🏾♂️.
📖Side note: The first book I ever read and appreciated on the topic of meditation was Success Through Stillness by Russell Simmons. If you can get your hands on it then you'll learn a lot more about transformative potential meditation has.
Remember my bout with gastritis? What I didn't tell you about that experience was my interaction with the lab technician at the hospital. To figure out what was wrong with me, or rather confirm, I had to get my blood work checked and this meant stripping down and taking my shirt off. As he proceeded to draw blood he asked me, "How often do you go to the gym?", I told him every day. He was amused by that and suggested that gym for me was what food is to an ordinary human being; it just has to be had daily! 😄 "How do you sustain it? How do you 'eat' so much so often?" He asked. This is what I shared with him:
I don't think, I just do
Alarm ⏰ goes off and it's time to rumble 🥊. How I feel doesn't matter, and what I think about the weather doesn't matter either -- it's time to 'eat'. Eliminate thinking and ruthlessly execute day in and day out before kaja ka voice has an opportunity to discourage you. I don’t think, I just do.
It's not optional, it's mandatory
It doesn't matter what's going on around me, I'M GOING TO THE GYM. This advice can be applied to anything that's important to you. There's no debate, there's no multiple choice and it's not left to a democratic vote. I am going to do what I need to do to get stuff done. At the end of the day there's really only two things in life; results or excuses.
It's about a system*
"Hard work isn't the problem, it's the consistency of the hard work that's difficult." Key word is consistency, and you can't be consistent without a system. Build a system that consolidates the little things required to get the job done. I pack my gym bag and all gym essentials the night before while my lovely wife sorts out my dietary requirements and ensures the beast will be fed. I plan my training and visualize the end goal... me cracking the sidewalk with each step I take and standing out as the evolution of my species. The objective is to clear the path for nothing but execution the next day.
You cannot progress with a chipante pante approach to the goals you set for yourself. Be methodical.
*I highly recommend the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. You’ll learn everything there is to know about developing habits and systems that set you up for success.