What do successful people have in common?
One of my hobbies is listening to interviews with high performers: people like Tim Ferriss, Bryan Johnson, Seth Godin, Derek Sivers. As I listen, I look for commonalities. What is it that these people do that sets them apart?
Though none of their routines are homogenous, all have certain practices they adhere to each day. They each wake up and do the same things every morning to avoid draining decision-making power. They each eat a small, healthy breakfast (or, at least, have a PowerBar and a coffee) to get them going.
They each have some form of meditative practice.
Across the board, the single most common practice that high achievers seem to adhere to daily meditation. So I adopted the practice.
In January of 2016, I did a bit of research on the various forms of meditation and settled on one that I felt would be easiest for me. A Google search will bring up all kinds of meditation. There are even classes you can take, if you have the dough. But I chose Mantra Meditation because it was simple, free (or nearly so – I did buy mala beads for like $12), and I could start doing it immediately.
Mantra Meditation has changed me in several ways.
I meditate for the first 20 minutes of every day.
I find that as soon as I finish meditating, I feel more alive. The sleepiness and reluctance I felt when I rolled out of bed is gone, flushed away by deep breathing and a steady rush of oxygen. I feel good, my mood calm and content.
I feel present – not depressed about past missteps, not anxious about future challenges – and focused only on what I need to do now. That feeling continues throughout the day – if my mind start to drift backwards or forwards, I find that it is easier now to pull back into the present. They say depression lives in the past and anxiety lives in the future. I used to carry a tightness in my chest constantly, and since meditation put me into more of “present living” state I feel very little anxiety at any given moment.
Meditation has made me better at handling disruption and stress – when I am now faced with a sudden crisis, I find I am far better at focusing on my breath, considering the options, and deciding a path without those old feelings of anger or frustration that used to inevitably rise up at such moments.
What is Mantra Meditation? Why should I do it?
Before you read another word, let’s get something out of the way. I’m not telling you THAT YOU SHOULD MEDITATE. I’m not telling you HOW YOU SHOULD MEDITATE. I’m just telling you what I’ve done and how it has affected me, and you can do what you want with that information. IF YOU WANT TO MEDITATE, here are a few pointers based on my experience:
First – Don’t be hard on yourself.
Make it easy or you won’t do it. That’s pretty standard to most pursuits, right? If it’s hard, we’ll give up before the good stuff starts to happen.
Pick a time when you won’t be interrupted. I chose to start meditating every morning after I brush my teeth, regardless of what time that might be. Also, try not to do too much, at first. If you think you can do 10 minutes, start with 5. This way, you will get the feel of it, start seeing the benefits, and avoid any frustration. Trust me, before long you will naturally want to increase the time.
Second – Find a spot with good energy.
If you happen to live on a mountain top and can meditate on a cliff by the ocean, good for you. I don’t – I live in an apartment. No matter where you live, find a spot where the light is nice, where you feel good, where there are few distractions. I chose the my bedroom floor facing the window. I can hear cars going by, but that’s white noise that I feel puts me in touch with the outside world.
Third – Get your tools in order.
Honestly, all you need to meditate are you, a place, and your mind. There are no required tools.
I’ve chosen to add a few items to my meditation, however, because they help me focus. I sit on a pillow with my legs crossed in front of me. If I’m comfortable, I’m not distracted. I also use a bit of meditation music. There are several good apps for this: on the android I use “My Chakra Meditation.” Once comfortable, I sit straight, chest up, hands resting on my knees, and I hold the Mala beads in my right hand.
Fourth – Know your Mantra.
There’s nothing mystical about a mantra. This is a statement that you can focus on with each breath, that you can repeat to drive out errant thoughts. As you meditate, other thoughts will come up, and that’s okay. The mantra will bring you back to a focused state. Pick something that makes you feel good. Feel free to change your mantra each time. I change mine about once per week.
Some I have used are: “I have everything that I need.” “I am thankful.” “I am here, now.”
Fifth – Relax and breath deeply, repeating your Mantra.
Breath in deeply through your nose. On your exhale, move from one bead to the next (if you are using them – I like them because I can focus on the tactile sensation of the bead), and say or think your mantra. I say mine out loud, but you don’t have to: the key is focusing on the words to push away errant thoughts.
Congratulations, you are now meditating!
After just a few times, I believe you will see a massive difference in your day-to-day mood, and over time, they say that meditation actually changes your brain. So join me in daily meditative practice and become a happier, more successful human being!