What if I told you that by making the time to sit and do nothing for 15 minutes each and every day, right now (not someday), it would give you the clarity and confidence to achieve whatever you want to in your life?
Most of us think “it can’t be that easy”, well, yes it can. The very process of regularly meditating gives you awareness, perspective and clarity like nothing else.
“But I have heard it’s hard! I’ve tried it and it didn’t work! I just can’t sit still! I just can’t stop thinking!”
Number one meditation myth buster – You are not required to stop thinking!
Okay, we will come to that later, first let’s look at the alternative, your current default. The one where you are on autopilot most of the time, trying to create change in your life by sheer willpower.
When I worked in corporate change and transformation I used to regularly point out that the process of change was simple, not easy. A bit like the universal desire to be healthy and in great shape, it requires mindset, diet and regular exercise, simple, not easy.
All change is about mindset, if you can get positive momentum going (instead of the feeling of ‘trying’ you are looking for the feeling of ‘effortless’) it feeds off itself; unfortunately the opposite is true too.
If something feels hard, there is some resistance going on in your thought patterns that means you are literally fighting against your own desires. Often your thought patterns run on automatic pilot, and they are not serving you. Most have nothing to do with your desires or capabilities today, they are rooted in past experiences right back to your early childhood. So how do you get around that?
Well, it’s about awareness. You could set about recording the 60-70,000 thoughts you have each day (good luck), and weeding out those that are not helping you, or you can start to become aware of the moments you are feeling bad versus good.
When you feel bad, step back (mentally), what are you (or were you) thinking? That is the sign of a thought that is literally at odds with the desires the inner you has. You might be worried about something, frustrated, angry, fearful, anxious, ashamed, depressed, or any other shade of grey. The inner you is screaming “other way, other way”. The aim here is to dilute the thought, take the momentum out of it.
Flip the thought, what if you can succeed? You are capable? You are worthy? You are enough? What have you done previously, or do you know about, or believe that would support this more positive view?
Likewise, when you feel good, that is a sign that your inner self is cheering you on “Yes! You’ve got it, you are on track, keep going”. Time to get on a roll, create positive momentum.
So, negative thoughts, you want to burst the bubble; positive thoughts, you want to snowball, keep that plate spinning. Simple, not easy, because it’s about breaking a lifetime of habits of thoughts…
Your best tool for the job? The very best thing you can do to become aware of what’s going on inside you, to help you gain clarity and perspective?
Meditation. Mindfulness. Whatever you want to call it. It’s about becoming aware of your inner world. And – great news!! – It is not hard. Let’s look at it in a bit more detail.
Meditation does not require you to stop thinking
If you have never meditated, or you tried and ‘it failed’, chances are you are largely unaware of those 60-70,000 thoughts you have a day (90% of which are the same as yesterdays), their momentum will be huge. So it makes sense that when you first sit down to do nothing for 15 minutes your mind will keep spinning.
Here is the trick, simply notice the thoughts, then let them go. It’s likely to go something like this:
“Right, timer set for 15 minutes. What next? Oh yes, breathe in 1-2-3, breathe out 1-2-3-4-5, breathe in 1-2-3, breathe out 1-2-3-4-5, breathe in 1-2-3, breathe out 1-2-3-4-5… I forgot to get meat out the freezer for tea, maybe I should just jump up and get it out now or I’ll forget again…what am I going to cook? I could make bolognaise, but if I do that I’ll have to make one dinner for the kids and another for us… I wonder how our Jimmy is getting on at school today after yesterday’s drama? That teacher needs her head read! I really ought to have a talk with her. She just doesn’t understand him, she needs to know that I won’t let her bully him like that…. “
On and on, from one subject to another until suddenly 5 minutes later you think “Oh, I’ve stopped counting my breaths”.
Now this is the point where many of you give up. Yet, it’s your breakthrough moment! You have become aware that you were thinking. So what should you do next?
“breathe in 1-2-3, breathe out 1-2-3-4-5, breathe in 1-2-3, breathe out 1-2-3-4-5, breathe in 1-2-3, breathe out 1-2-3-4-5…”
I guarantee it won’t be long before the next train of thought leaves the station, and passes the baton to several other trains of thought before you notice again that you have become lost in your thoughts.
That is okay, in the 15 mins, you might be lucky if you have 30 seconds of stillness at first. Even after months of daily practice, years even, you might find you only get 2 or 3 minutes.
Then what is the point?
Well, as you start to notice your thoughts in meditation, you will also start to notice them at other points in your day. Noticing when the runaway train has left the station can take the steam out of it, so to speak. Awareness is all you are trying to achieve. If those runaway thoughts are making you feel a shade of grey, shift your focus from them, quite deliberately think about something else different.
If your runaway thoughts are about a beach in Hawaii and you relaxing, sunning yourself and frolicking in the sea, however, you might want to milk those while the going is good. If they start to turn a shade of grey though, say because the ‘what if’s’ start in your mind (what if I can’t afford it, I don’t get that bonus, I can’t get the time off) switch away from them.
Becoming aware of how your thoughts are driving your experiences is a powerful tool, but it’s not the only benefit.
The Feeling of Peace
As you regularly meditate, you will become aware that by continually noticing and switching away from negative thought patterns, the feeling of stillness, of peace, arises more and more. Under all emotions, peace bubbles to the surface like a cork in water. The more you experience this, the easier it becomes in day to day life to maintain this centre of stillness when faced with situations that might have previously knocked you off balance.
With that quiet centre of stillness, even among the inevitable storms of life, comes perspective. Your perspective will change as you stop being drawn into the day to day distractions, your focus will naturally shift to the broader perspective of your life just as it does when you take a vacation.
With a broader perspective, you become a lot clearer about where your focus needs to be in order for you to succeed at whatever it is you want to achieve.
I heard about meditation for a long time, I even did quite a few guided meditations, yet I kept ignoring the basic advice to just sit and do nothing for 15 minutes each day. I kept putting it off, until finally I realised that I was ignoring advice I heard regularly from many people who had what I wanted in life: they knew who they were, what their passion was, and they followed it successfully; in short, they are happy.
Every day for 15 minutes I sit down (in a quiet space if I can, sometimes I have to do it with kids playing in the background), close my eyes and count to three slowly as I breathe in to my belly, and breathe out to the count of 5. The benefits have been so subtle, yet powerful, I can honestly say I’ll do it for the rest of my life.
It probably took around 2 months before I really began to notice how much more present I seemed to be in my own life, and another 2 or 3 months before I felt that calm infuse into more of the more tricky day to day realities (like dealing with two young children simultaneously having a meltdown). The effects are cumulative, it’s not a one day deal – though you will find it provides a bit of an oasis in an otherwise busy day.
So, now knowing that by making the time to sit and do nothing for 15 minutes each and every day you will gain the clarity and confidence to achieve whatever you want to in your life, is it time for you to commit to your best future?
Knowing I’ve helped in some way through my writing means a lot - I’d love for you to like, comment on, or share these thoughts with others, or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’m always happy to help if I can. You can also subscribe to my newsletter and, as a special thank you, you will receive the link to my video 3 Steps to Becoming You.
By signing up you will only receive emails from shonakeachie.com and you can unsubscribe at any time. This is a two-step process, you will have to verify your subscription by clicking the link in the email you should receive after clicking this 'Subscribe' button. If you do not receive the email please check your Junk mail, thank you.
Please note if you are using the Google Chrome browser and want to subscribe to the RSS Feed you will first need to get an RSS plugin from the Chrome Store.