Meditation For The Modern Man (no 'ohmmm' nonsense)
A key theme among the majority of business moguls and billionaires is a personalised mental practice.
Unlike what you may think of as meditation, there are many ways to come to your own results-driven method.
The air was thick with sweat, aromas and the heavy chanting of the class.
"From the throat," the instructor says.
As we all dug deeper to bring the noise down an octave, like a choir of frogs, I realised something was off. Breaking the chant I opened my eyes to a scene alike to that of a cult. In a panic, I eyed the door which was a good 20 metres away and would require navigating a minefield of humming yogis. No good.
The rest of the class was spent on my back, stiff as a log, counting sheep in my head.
I may be exaggerating the details, but this happened.
Alas, it wasn't for me.
And I have a good feeling many other guys would feel the same way.
The benefits of meditation are thoroughly researched and well established. We should all have something which allows us to switch off for a moment, silence mental chatter and refocus on the moment.
These benefits extend well beyond the personal feeling of calm and clarity. They radiate outwards into all aspects of life; improving relationships, increasing productivity, mastering leadership and making more money.
Below consists of a bunch of ways you can implement meditation into your life.
Find a few which suit your personality and situation, then start using them. You'll experience the benefits fast.
These are all techniques I've used in the past and can vouch for their effectiveness, without feeling like a weirdo.
One single breath.
With eyes closed, inhale through the nose for five seconds, hold for two and exhale for five. Then, open your eyes
The best thing about the single breath is it's ridiculously easy. It can be done anywhere at anytime. You can always take one breath.
It may be the most important breath of the day.
The 20-1 countdown.
If you have more time or need a bit more relaxation where one breathe won't suffice, you can take twenty.
Starting at 20, you count both the inhales and exhales, working your way down. Once you reach 10, only count the exhales. This takes roughly a minute and is a hard reset for your mind.
For myself, not used as often, but provides a mental boost if you're feeling overwhelmed, sluggish or need a slap in the face.
You breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. This is to be done fast and explosively.
It comes from Tony Robbins, the life guru. He uses hand actions too but I feel they are a little fruity, like the dude below. (Also, don't stare like him while doing it)
He proposes that it changes your mental state, hence 'priming'. You do feel more alive after performing the breathes so it's hard to deny. Just another useful tool in the toolbox.
All you do is sit comfortably and focus your attention on one body part at a time.
As you move from your head, through your arms, down the torso and into the legs, you note any sensations or tension. When you find an area of tension, you aim to relax it.
Body scans are perfect for a mind full of chatter and thoughts whipping through. It takes attention away from 'everything else' and places it on one thing at a time; a skill which directly correlates to focus and performance.
Progressive muscle relaxation.
This involves systematically tensing particular muscle groups in your body, such as your neck and shoulders. Next, you release the tension and notice how it feels when they are relaxed.
People with stress and anxiety difficulties are often so tense during the day that they don't recognise how it feels to be relaxed.
This type of meditation allows you to develop a 'skill', being able to 'cue' relaxation in your muscles during times of tension.
It's a more aggressive type of body scan for the overly stressed.
It's not a body scan, but it's being aware of your body and surroundings in the present moment.
The book 'Conscious Coaching' discusses being aware of the present through a movie quote.
"Where are you? What are you? And what are you?" The quarterback says to himself.
"Right here. Right now. And in the moment."
At times like this, the past doesn't matter, nor does the future. It's about owning the present which is the only thing you can control.
Mindfulness expands well beyond a quarterback making a game-winning pass.
It allows you to enjoy time with your children without worry about a looming deadline.
It allows you to enjoy your steak dinner without simultaneously replying to emails and watching the news.
It allows you to have sex without thinking about whether you told John to call Martha about a deal.
I don't have a mantra myself. The practices of breathing, body scans and gratitude keep me fairly grounded in the moment. But, feel free to use the above mantra if you're looking for an extra push to be mindful.
Not all meditation requires you do sit and do nothing. A task which requires heavy mental focus or a state of flow can provide many of the same benefits.
Hobbies like working on a car, building something from scratch or anything with a nature of problem-solving can focus the mind. In a state of focus, we forget about our problems, emotions and sense of time.
If you have a hobby like this, make the most of it. If you don't, consider picking up a side-project for fun.
Another type of task-orientated meditation is activities which require complete attention.
Exercise is the main culprit here.
When exercising, there is no opportunity for thoughts to wander.
Have you ever tried solving a maths equation mid bench press?
You won't be able to.
If you haven't yet, start a structured exercise routine to use as your meditative time. Another of the endless benefits of exercise.
Although not technically a type of meditation, gratitude practice does provide the similar benefits of increased focus, clarity and calm.
Gratitude is being thankful for the things you have. This takes the focus off uncontrollable future-based wants and brings you back to the present.
In the morning, note three things you are grateful for that day, in that moment. Feel these things and be truly grateful.
Some of the things which commonly pop up on my list include:
I have food on the table and a roof over my head.
I have a supportive and loving family.
The morning sunrise peeking over the horizon.
Sipping on a delicious and relaxing coffee.
The endless opportunities I have available in my life.
After a while, the practice extends into your daily life. You will begin to notice the many good smaller things which may have gone unnoticed in the past.
All of this presents itself in you being more optimistic, complaining less, having better relationships and being able to focus on the things that matter.
Something as simple as a chat can be meditative.
This may sound like the easiest option, but in fact, is likely the most difficult.
It requires more than small talk, the type of chat which (makes up) 95% of our daily interactions. You need a trusted acquaintance to talk to and a space free from judgement.
Questions which bring about deeper level conversations include:
What was the best thing to happen to you today, and how did it make you feel?
What was the worst thing, and how could you improve next time?
What do you want your life to look like in a year's time?
Who are the most important people in your life? Do you treat them as such?
What makes you happy?
We spend much of our days bound up.
Sometimes it can be hard to exhale if you've spent your whole life holding your breath.
Talking to someone, breathing, being grateful; it sounds weird until you try it.
The stigma surrounding meditation and vulnerability needs to be destroyed. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be happier and healthier.
As men, it is one of the most masculine things we can do.
To be completely in control of emotions, dominate your own mind, crush pessimism and be comfortable increasing your self-worth.
I'd say meditation is worth a shot.
Mike runs the Power Shift System.
Based on Sydney's North Shore, the Power Shift System helps Executive Men regain control of their health and be an inspiration.
It's designed for busy men, taking away obstacles rather than adding to the to-do list.
CLICK HERE TO LEARN HOW IT HAS HELPED MANY BEFORE YOU.