Think about it: you’ve had one of those crazy weeks that seem all too prevalent: time has flown by and deadlines have risen faster than any of the aeroplanes you’ve flown in during the week, you haven’t had time to stop for a second, let alone contemplate exercise or looking after your body. And now you feel completely out of sync, your body is a huge stress ball and the tension in your back, neck and shoulders is tighter than a loaded gun.
At this point you force yourself to go for a long walk, a run, or a swim and boom! You’re there. You feel more balanced; you notice your breathing becoming deeper and longer; you stand up straighter; and you feel more connected both with yourself and with the world around you.
But here’s the interesting thing, you can achieve the same balance through seated, or any other form, of meditation. Your exercise can be viewed as a form of meditation too.
So let’s take a closer look at meditation. Simply put, it is the practice of aligning mind and body through focusing your attention on a single point, most commonly your breath.
And the great thing about it is that it reduces the stress and tension that builds up when we are out of sync. Even better, when you have a regular meditation practice you are far less likely to get to that out of sync phase.
If you’ve already tried to meditate you’ve probably found that instead of being able to silence your mind, it has gotten even more active. The good news is that meditation practice is not about switching off all thinking. Instead, you get to relax with your thoughts, acknowledging them without judgment and letting them pass through without trying to hold onto them.
Unfortunately, your to-do list will still be there when you finish meditating, but during practice be fiercely gentle with yourself, noticing thoughts and feelings but not acting on them.
What do I mean by being fiercely gentle? An example would be not reacting to one of those arresting thoughts that would normally jolt you into action and have you jumping off your meditation cushion in a blind panic.
You remember that you haven’t spoken to a family member for a week and feel so guilty that you would normally be compelled to interrupt your meditation and call them immediately. Instead you fiercely restrain your automatic fight-or-flight reaction, doing so gently and without judgment; you tell that thought that you take it upon notice and let it pass through your mind, comfortable in the knowledge that it is something you can take care of after you finish your practice.
Here’s the kicker, one of the most powerful impacts of a practice in meditation is that it allows you to see the gap that exists between your everyday narrative, your story, and what manifests once you quiet down all the chatter and achieve relative stillness.
In this state you can take note of themes that recur and observe emotions that come up time and time again. This leads you to have the power to disrupt the habitual reality that your external ego has constructed and allow your inner life, your soul narrative, to shine through.
For more insights into meditation and other mindfulness practices see my new book, Fierce Reinvention: A Guide to Harnessing Your Superpowers for Entrepreneurial and Leadership Success ($11.99 digital, $15.99 print (USD)), which is available from Amazon.