October 1, 2007

The Next Big Challenge

Ok, so you've mastered time management. You can pack more accomplishment into one day than most people can put into a week. Now you are ready for a real challenge: do nothing.

If you've never tried meditation before, you are missing one of the biggest challenges you will ever face. Now, I'm not talking about meditation as a mystical or spiritual practice. This article is about meditation as a relaxation technique and a method for training the mind for which there is no equal.

The goal is deceptively simple: All you need to do is sit still and try to focus solely on one thing or to avoid focusing on any one thing. No problem, right? Wrong! In my experience, nobody ever meditates well the first time.

To try your first meditation, sit comfortably and close your eyes. Sit down as though you never intend to get back up. Some people may insist that you cross your legs or hold your hands in very specific ways, but the only thing that I've found matters is keeping good posture -- it helps you to breathe more deeply. Your only task in this first exercise is to count your breaths from 1 to 9, and repeat counting from 1 to 9 until your time is up. Set a timer for 10 minutes (one with a gentle alarm if you can...after all, this is about relaxation) for your first attempt.

The biggest surprise for people new to meditation is just how easily distracted an untrained mind can be. Here is an example of a typical first try: breathe in...breathe out...1...hmm, I wonder if I turned the coffee pot off -- BZZT! You just lost your focus. Trying again, breathe in...breathe out...1...breathe in...breathe out...2...wow, I got to "2" without losing my focus -- BZZT! You did it again.

Yes, it's frustrating. And over the course of 10 minutes, it is extremely unlikely that you can get to "9" without getting distracted. Eventually, however, you find that those random thoughts diminish until finally your mind does what you direct it to, and only what you direct it to. This is a territory unlike any other you may have experienced, and an extraordinary paradox -- you will be at once both fully relaxed and yet completely focused! And once you've been there, you will want to return!

Like any skill, meditation becomes easier with practice. In a first attempt, you may not even reach that point of relaxed concentration. Over time, however, you become able to access it at will.

So, how do you "use" meditation? On the surface, it can look like meditation does nothing. But, do not forget that the seeds of all action are rooted in the mind. It is in this sense that meditation helps you be even more effective when you are not meditating. By creating focused, clear thinking, you set the foundation for focused, clear action. Relaxed concentration is also the optimal mental state for problem solving. If you are having trouble accomplishing a goal, get into a state of relaxed concentration and then direct your thinking toward finding a solution. You will find that those solutions are more elegant than any attempts you may have made in the past!

As a final thought, consider this: if you feel like you are too busy to attempt meditation, you may need to try it now more than ever!

Also At Babblermouth:
Financial Freedom Series 1 -- Cause and Effect
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1 comment:

Dakota Lifestyle: Beyond the Weather said...

I read once that meditation is a form of prayer. I believe it.

I like this blog. I'll probably be back.

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