Today is step three in the recipe for making your dreams a reality—also known as the “Live Your Dream” 5 step recipe. The first step was relaxation. The second was getting yourself centered.
Today’s all about meditation. While it’s the third rung on the dream-to-reality ladder, it’s really the most important tool in the toolbox as far as I’m concerned.
Meditation is the Swiss Army knife of self-care.
Feeling overwhelmed? Learn to meditate. Lack of confidence? Learn to meditate. Too much noise around you or inside your head? Learn to meditate.
Meditation is at the core of everything.
This isn’t just my opinion or experience. The research is off the charts about meditation and its benefits to your whole being. For example, meditation can give your brain the same boost as 8 hours of sleep. Over time, it literally changes your brain activity and chemistry and your body rhythms—in a super good way. It puts you back together when you’re being pulled in a million directions.
If I had the power to make everyone on the planet to do one thing (and I’m not sure why I don’t have that power!) I would make everyone meditate.
Meditation is the kindest thing you can do for yourself. It’s the ultimate brain gym.
Ironically, many people think they can’t meditate because they can’t “clear their mind.” Well, meditation isn’t about thinking, it’s just about doing. Yes, I said “doing” meditation. It’s actually a practice and it’s perfectly fine for it to be an imperfect practice.
But you do need to practice. That’s non-negotiable.
Start by finding a quiet place. It may help to close your eyes. Sit comfortably. Don’t get caught up in the technicalities. Don’t try to get it “right.” Just try to get it done.
Now take three conscious deep breaths. In and out slowly. Just notice how the air feels going in and out. Follow your breath. Keep doing just that. When thoughts wriggle their way in, just notice them and come back to your breath. Feel your breath again. And again. And again. You get the point.
Do this for two minutes.
Congratulations! You’ve completed a beginning meditation!
Be ready for this to be messy. As simple as it sounds to do, it’s not. Your brain doesn’t turn off because you tell it to.
Think of it this way. If I told you that all you had to do was clear your mind for two minutes, your mind would automatically go into overdrive.
- “What do you mean ‘clear my mind’?”
- “Is it supposed to be clear like transparent?”
- “Should I just focus on a white screen?”
- “I see spots, is that okay?”
- “Has it been two minutes yet?”
The more you seek “quiet,” the louder it seems to get in there.
This is normal. It’s predictable. It’s why a lot of people “think” they can’t meditate.
Zen isn’t as easy to find as we think it should be.
But you’ve done it before. Don’t believe me? Science backs me up here.
When you were a child, you were a Zen Master.
When we’re children, we spend the beginning of our lives in a meditative brain wave pattern. That’s just how our brains work. We are truly moving meditators. Then we grow up and our brains are affected by so much of what we think and, as I’ve said before, by the information we get from the outside and invite in.
Look, the truth here is that the deck is stacked against you finding, being and living your authentic self. There are too many opinions and distractions. There’s too much noise surrounding us pretty much all the time.
We’re literally invited and encouraged to avoid ourselves.
But you are the only you there is. The rest of us need you to be at your best. We need your thoughts and ideas and creativity. We need your kindness and spirit. More importantly, you need you, too.
The key to unlocking the door to that place, that palace that is Y.O.U., is meditation. The place of you is meditation and it’s the place where every answer lives. It’s the only place we find ourselves.
Matthieu Ricard has been called the “happiest man on earth.” He holds a Ph.D. in molecular genetics and is a world-renowned researcher. He left all that behind to become a Buddhist monk. He spent five years in solitary meditation! If there is an “expert meditator,” he’s the one.
Here is his “why” when it comes to meditation: “The ultimate reason for meditating is to transform ourselves in order to be better able to transform the world.”
Pretty good, huh?
And, yes, that can happen by simply starting with two minutes of quiet focus on your breathing and building to a regular meditation practice.
If you find yourself frustrated with this, make sure you download my free two-minute guided meditation. Sometimes it’s easier to let go of your own thoughts when you’re following the sound of someone else’s voice. It’s like coloring in a coloring book instead of drawing free hand on a white page.
Okay, it’s time for the weekly homework. You’ve already scheduled in relaxation time and spent some time getting yourself centered. Even by spending just a few minutes on these exercises you may have already begun to see changes in your thoughts. This week’s assignment will really skyrocket your progress (because that’s what we do at Balloon to the Moon)!
Try to meditate three times over the next week. Even if it’s just for two minutes at a time. Schedule it in. It’s a wonderful way to start the day or to wind down before bed. Find the time that resonates best with you and meditate.
I also want to hear from you! Have you noticed any changes as you complete your assignments? Do you already have a meditation practice?
Let me know in the comments below.