Rules of Meditation : Today, we are beset on all sides with disruption. Technology and media combine to make a vast, faceless machine of distraction. Thirty second television commercials have been replaced with fifteen second ads in the “attention economy” where advertisers grasp for every scrap of our fleeting time. Seeing people devour their phone screens more than their meal is commonplace in restaurants.
Without a doubt, technology has created a profound environment of efficiency and ease in everyday life. It is not inherently evil. Roundly criticizing any new technology is speaking a language of ignorance. Instead, always search for solutions for the negative end of the double-edged sword.
Mainstream mindfulness has achieved considerable notoriety as a potential solution. Meditation is frequently mentioned by business gurus and self-help experts. Several high-achieving public figures praise and practice it, such as Jerry Seinfeld, Oprah Winfrey, Lebron James, and Paul McCartney. The physiological and mental benefits are thoroughly confirmed through thousands of years of research. But what is it really?
Meditating is simply focusing all of your conscious attention on one activity. The typical version you will see is a sitting meditation whereby the practitioner is focusing solely on the breath. While this is a highly recommended activity in its own right, mediation can assume any form.
Meditation does not require any formalized training. It is immediately accessible to anyone. Begin small, and the next time you drink your favorite beverage focus on nothing but that beverage. Note the temperature, texture, and flavor. Do not think about the follies of yesterday or the anxieties of the future and calmly ask yourself, “what in this moment is lacking?”. Repeat this with the next meal you eat.
The act, if practiced routinely, will accomplish two very crucial things. First, you will begin to abandon your needless thoughts, worries, and biases of the past and the future. They are away from you know. Keep them at arm’s length and out of mind. Of course, these old thoughts will find their way into your space occasionally. Learn to merely be amused by them like a squawking parrot. It is not the effort you put into meditation that makes the difference, but rather the complete lack thereof.
Second, you will begin to experience a significant amount of gratitude toward those things that you previously saw as mundane. The hot showers, fresh food, and everything covering base needs will seem monumental. Walking through a park on a nice day will seem next to a transcendent experience.
Next, direct the meditation to an everyday routine like driving. Be absolutely mindful of the cars in front, beside, and behind you. Make sure to notice how fast they are traveling. Chances are you are not going to figure out your mortgage or credit card debt problem in the middle of traffic. You might as well direct all of your attention to driving and away from needless anxieties. An active mediation practice will make you a safer, more mindful person on the road and elsewhere.
The implications on work productivity are extraordinary. If I am working on a paper or project, I create a target and parameter. For instance, the target can be the blinking text cursor on the document. The rule can be: for 30 minutes at a time I am not allowed, under any circumstances, to avert my eyes from the target. Thirty minutes should be more than feasible.
The classic model of “work for one hour to take a ten minute break” never works. If you are “working” for an hour that is constantly interrupted by checking your phone, it’s not work. You are deciding to do two or more things simultaneously and half-hearted. Deliberately “monotasking” through projects is a significant and productive way to achieve things. Scattered multitasking will almost always produce nothing but anxiety and inferior work.
Meditation will enhance your work ethic, creativity and create more personal free time. It will give you an indestructible sense of peace and well-being. You will no longer rely on the external for happiness. There are no tricks or the need for “gurus”. The only thing you need is what you have now.