In this complex world filled with noise and distractions, we may sometimes find it impossible to achieve calmness, wellness, and productivity at its fullest. Meditation will make you more productive. It might sound strange that sitting still and doing nothing for a period of time will make you more productive, but it’s true. Dr. Sundardas walks us through the process of meditation. He enumerates its benefits such as making you more productive, energized, calm, and all good things that will surely help you get the best out of yourself.
Meditation will make you more productive. It might sound strange that sitting still and doing nothing for a period of time will make you more productive, but it’s true. Before diving into what to do, it’s worth going over why you should meditate in the first place.
I’ve combined benefits observed by neurological research with my own personal observations over the last 40 years I’ve been meditating (which are slightly less scientific). Some benefits of meditation include:
§ Meditation has great calming effects. Research has shown that EEG activity actually decreases during meditation. Meditation also helps you to recharge so you have more energy throughout the day.
§ The practice increases the blood flow in your brain, and according to one neurophysiologist, “rewires the circuitry in your brain”. It’s been proven that people who meditate need less sleep.
§ Meditation makes your brain age slower and increases the amount of grey matter in your brain. Grey matter is responsible for muscle control, seeing, hearing, memory, emotions, and speech.
§ Meditation makes it much easier to focus and achieve flow
, that feeling of being completely immersed and energized by something. It also allows you to procrastinate less, and get more done in the same amount of time.
§ The practice has been even shown to boost students’ test scores (by 11% in one study)!
§ Meditation helps your mind defragment
your thoughts so you can make better sense of them, and step away from them to gain perspective.
Needless to say, there are a ton of benefits to adopting a regular meditation practice, and these are just a few of them.
Meditation is a very simple practice that people overcomplicate. This podcast focuses on breathing meditation, where you focus on your breath. (Imagine that!)
The basic idea of meditation is simple. Every time your mind begins to shift its spotlight away from your breath and you get lost in thought, you simply bring your attention back to your breath. And then you repeat this again and again until your meditation timer sounds.
The point is that every time you bring your attention back to your breath, you work out your “attention muscle”, if you want to call it that. Then, over time your focus, concentration, and attention span improve, in addition to the plethora of other benefits mentioned above.
That’s the basic idea of meditation.
You will need two things to get started, but you should have both of them already.
You don’t need much to meditate, but you should have two things:
1. Something to sit on. There is such thing as standing meditation and walking meditation, but sitting meditation is the most common and the best place to start.
2. A timer. Since meditation is all about working out your “attention muscle”, having to check a clock would somewhat defeat the purpose of meditation, since it would constantly distract your attention away from your breath.
When I first started to meditate, I remember being dumbfounded at what exactly I had to do after I sat down. Two things especially confused me: how do I sit, and what do I think about? Those are essentially the only things you need to worry about when it comes to meditation.
How to sit
§ The biggest thing to remember is to keep your back straight. Keep your back erect (if you’re in a chair it’s best not to rest your back on the back of the chair), and keep an upright posture.
§ Your eyes can be either closed or open. Again, the goal of this whole “meditation” thing is to work out your attention muscle.
§ Don’t worry about your hands. Some people like to form circles with their thumb and another finger, but that doesn’t really matter, in my opinion.
§ Cross your legs however you want. I usually cross my legs in front of me, and I think that works fine for most people. If you want to fold your feet like a pretzel you can, but if you use meditation to strengthen your attention muscle, it may be easiest to keep to a simple, cross-legged pose.
§ Look slightly downward, even if your eyes are closed. This opens up your chest. Again, though, find a place that’s comfortable – one that keeps you upright and opens up your chest at the same time.
§ The biggest point I can make about how to sit is to find a pose and posture that’s both comfortable and keeps you upright.
What to do
The attention you give the different things around you is a spotlight, and all day you move it around and point it at different things, usually without thinking too much about the fact that you’re doing this. As you move it around, you point it at everything you give attention to in your life, from your smartphone, to a conversation you’re having, to a report you’re writing. And a lot of the time, you direct it at more than one thing at a time. Actually, most of the time you do.
Meditation takes that “spotlight” that is your attention and it points it directly at your breath.
So that’s all well and good, but what do you do, exactly? Six things.
1. Get comfortable. Open the timer on your phone, and get into an upright and comfortable posture. Dim the lights a bit, or shut them off completely to help you focus better.
2. Start your timer.
3. Bring your attention/focus to your breath. This is what meditation is all about, and this is what makes meditation both difficult and worthwhile. In this third step, close your mouth and focus entirely on your breath as it enters and leaves your nose.
4. Don’t think. This is the hard part. Don’t analyse your breath; just bring your attention and focus to your breath, without thinking about it or analysing it.
5. Bring your attention back to your mind when it wanders. And it will. I’ve been meditating for about 40 years, and my mind still wanders sometimes. When your mind wanders, and it will, gently bring your attention back to your breath once you realise that your mind has wandered. Just gently bring your attention back.
6. Again, bring your mind back when it wanders. When your mind begins to think, gently bring your attention back to only your breath.
§ Meditating for 10 minutes a day is infinitely better than meditating for 70 minutes once a week. Try to meditate frequently (every day if possible), even if that just means sitting for a few minutes.
§ Start small. If you try to meditate for 30 minutes right from the start, I can almost guarantee that you will get frustrated and discouraged. I recommend starting with five minutes, and only increasing that time when you’re comfortable.
§ Meditate in a quiet place. Having less distractions around you will naturally allow you to concentrate better, and will make your meditation much more productive.
§ It’s easiest to lose your attention during your out-breath. Your in-breath is very pronounced and easy to concentrate on, and most people’s minds wander on their out-breaths (me included). This is worth keeping in mind.
§ Be easy on yourself when your mind wanders. It’s easy to become frustrated with yourself when your mind wanders, but don’t. Your meditations will be much more productive when you gently bring your attention back.
§ If you can’t concentrate, try counting. Count your breaths, until you reach five, and then start again. I use this trick when I’m having a tough time concentrating.
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