Meditation is simply space to play with the functioning and processes of your mind. To learn to override the embedded processes, and direct your mind completely.
We just sit still and focus our attention to breathing, and let an awareness develop beyond the verbal chatter we have and usually identify as ourselves.
30 days ago I made a commitment to sitting still, and focusing on my breathing. Every day immediately after waking up, I fold a pillow in half and sit on it. I cross my legs, straighten my back, and just focus on breathing for the next 20 minutes.
At first, it was incredibly difficult. I think I only lasted 5 or 6 minutes the very first time I tried. And nothing mind blowing or incredible happened. In fact, I’m pretty sure nothing happened.
But I don’t give up that easily, and so I kept doing it, regardless of the circumstances. I stopped everything I was doing, and made 20 minutes out of the day, every day, to make sure I stopped and sat and breathed.
By the second week, I noticed a subtle shift. My mind felt “clearer”. But that doesn’t mean anything. So I kept working.
And eventually I noticed I was different.
Here’s the shifts I experienced:
1. Effortless Action – I’ve always wondered how people got such amazing things accomplished in their lives. It seems to me like I’m always searching for another piece of information before I can finally relax and build something. At my old job, it felt like I spent all day scrambling and stressing to get myself to take care of the tasks I knew needed done.
I now get more done, without feeling the stress to produce, and also without feeling the need to produce things that are flawless. This is the greatest benefit for me from meditation, because it has freed me to be more playful in my life, and in the things I build.
2. Centeredness – I’ve become more aware of where other people’s focus is. A lot of people seem to be drawn to or away from things without knowing it. Social conditioning has a lot to do with it.
I’ve not outgrown my own social conditioning, but I have become more aware of my own needs, and feel and observe them before allowing them to dictate my actions. This means that when people do things which would have angered me in the past, I take a step back and observe the emotions which come before responding to them.
3. Focus – Sitting still and not moving, not thinking gives you back the power of focus. I read recently that young people have more creativity and experience emotions more intensely, but have less focus, and older people have more focus but less creativity.
Real power in life lies in obtaining both the creativity and the focus to be able to implement in action. Meditation gives you the focus and creativity parts by allowing you to become more familiar with the nonverbal parts of your awareness.
4. Heightened Awareness – I’m becoming capable of focusing my awareness itself. I can now direct it towards whatever I’m working on, and subtly shift out of focus from the worries that I had about everything else that I’ve been thinking about.
In other words, I am learning to shift into and out of a flow state at will.
5. Letting Go of Self-Importance – I don’t feel the need to be the hero anymore. I realize that I have limitations, and can only focus on a few things very well. It’s a mistake to try and diffuse my energy through doing it all.
Allow other people the space to develop, and be the medium for them to be comfortable in their self expression.
6. More Forgiveness – Sitting and watching the conscience, talking mind for a few weeks has shown me just how vulnerable and shortcut oriented I really am. But because I realize this was all embedded in the construction of my mind, and it all served a purpose evolutionarily, I let it go and forgive myself.
And in forgiving myself, it’s a lot easier to forgive other people for being afraid or for taking shortcuts.
7. Happiness – When you realize everything you experience comes through and goes away, it’s a lot more difficult to stay attached to outcomes. If you realize your inner dialog and critic is just a tiny piece of your mind, it’s easier to forgive it for being so nervous and negative all the time. That’s mostly been its job for the past thousands of years, to protect us in a harsh environment.
But we’ve largely mastered that environment, and we’re rapidly approaching the point where all the lack we experience is a leftover evolutionary mistake.
7. Extra “Space” In the Day – Because I am comfortable saying “No” to a lot more things in my life, and appreciate the importance of true focus, I now feel like I have more time than ever to accomplish the things I dream of. And this space gives me comfort.