Meditation exploded onto the scene in 2017 and became more than a niche trend in the United States. Now it’s time to gain more clarity about what meditation is, what makes it valuable and why people from all walks of life would be savvy to incorporate it into their daily routine.
First, let’s get to the basics, it’s all about tuning in and waking up, NOT tuning out and turning off.
Meditation is like housekeeping for the brain. We are continually being bombarded with information from external and internal sources and a daily reset with meditation is an extremely accessible, useful, and simple tool for tuning the brain.
When it comes down to meditation, the simpler, the better. All you really need is yourself, a good dose of enthusiasm and a commitment to the process. Data from studies are showing its effectiveness for increasing self-awareness, quality of life, concentration, brain performance, and for lowering harmful stress.
Meditation can be traced back at least 5000 years - enough time for many different people and cultures to adopt and put their spin on it. All styles of meditation share the same objective of empirically experiencing expanded states of consciousness. But don’t let the concept of an expanded state of consciousness intimidate you. Meditation is synonymous with the full immersion of your attention. You can immerse yourself fully into anything, whether listening to an orchestra, driving a car, playing sports or imagining a sunset. When your mind is not distracted by the past or the future, and when you have complete domain over where your attention resides, you can thoroughly enjoy the present moment.
According to Professor DeRose, the founder of the DeRose Method and author of more than thirty books, including “Meditation and Self-knowledge”, “the term meditation can be used to designate the practical exercises, or the state of consciousness obtained from the practice. It consists of observation, not thinking or analyzing, but merely placing the mind on the object of choice until the mind infiltrates it. 'When the observer, the observed object and the act of observation merge into one thing, this is meditation,' according to the Shástras (which refers to ancient Indian manuals on any subject in any field of knowledge).
When we are dependent on the analytical mind for assessing and decision making, we are essentially eclipsing the lucidity of intuition with the relatively heavy and slow-moving analytical thought and reason. Albert Einstein said, “the intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
To access this more lucid and connected state of consciousness, you need to turn off the analytical valve and open the observational valve. While the analytical mind is incredible and extremely important for basic interactions with our environment and decision making, it eclipses.
Meditation has gained significant notoriety in the West and thankfully begun to escape the fierce grasp of alternative spiritual niches, in what looks to be a return to its original purpose that sprouted some five thousand or more years ago in the Indus Valley Civilization, which is renowned for being exceptionally advanced in the arts and sciences and having inspired the great Greek philosophers. In other words, the original meditators had more in common with today’s scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and artists than the modern day spiritual meditator. A modern-day example of intuition in the scientific community is the hypothesis.
Meditation is being touted for its potential to boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, increase gray matter in the insula and sensory regions, the auditory and sensory cortex, increase mental resilience, improve attention and mood, and the list goes on. The clamoring to meditation’s benefits hasn’t gone without its critiques, according to this study the results from the numerous studies on meditation “reflect the health and wellness challenges present in contemporary culture, together with a desire for personal relief from such issues.”
We are all creatures of habit. Much of what we think, feel, say and do is a product of inertia. So, the first step in changing your (bad) habits for the better is to commit to changing your routine thoughts, words and actions. If you can’t do that yet, then even the most powerful strategies and tactics are rendered useless. On the other hand, if you realize you still have untapped potential yet are multi-tasking regularly, checking your phone notifications, thinking about your response while in a conversation, you may want to consider changing these habits in 2018, and meditation may be your window in tapping your potential.
Meditation itself is easy and refers to a state of mind that augments consciousness, clarity, and perception, bypassing the analytical mind and accessing information intuitively. Since when did the idea of being more lucid with your thoughts become such a complicated and intimidating process?
Imagine a lion struggling to focus when it encounters prey. Or, a monkey having a panic attack because it’s not sure where it will get its food today? Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? That’s what I think when I hear people say, “oh, I can’t meditate, it’s just not for me,” or “I don’t have the patience for meditation.” Meditation isn’t a sport or hobby. It’s an essential universal life skill.
Think of meditation as a way to turbo boost your level of concentration. It is synonymous with the common sports concept of being “in the zone,” “hyper-focused” or in a “flow state.” Meditation accesses a channel of knowledge that is a step above logical, calculated reasoning.
Try these tips to break through:
- Focus exclusively on one of your senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch).
- Focusing in on any one of your senses is an excellent way to train your consciousness. For sound, put headphones on and listen to something, I like to listen to the sounds of nature like a river, but it can be any sound whatsoever, as long as it is pleasurable to you and enough to encourage your brain to filter out other senses, memories, and distractions. I also like to practice focusing on one instrument or aspect of the sound.
- Make sure you are breathing properly - Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. One of the simplest and most effective ways to optimize your breath for concentration and meditation is to breathe slowly, steadily and deeply, allowing the air to reach the lower region of the lungs, thus expanding the abdomen respectively as the air enters and pulling the abdomen slightly in as the air exits. This will stabilize the nervous system and optimize the levels of oxygen circulating in the body without over stimulating (which could lead to a reactive impulse to over think or over react), enabling the body and brain to function better, leading to more focus, insight and creativity.
- Put it into your schedule/calendar - Have a plan to set aside 5-10 minutes to meditate in your daily routine.
- Stop multi-tasking. Don’t cheapen your focus. When you stop multi-tasking, you go deeper and further into the task at hand, which increases the value of your attention. You have more perception, more insight, more effectiveness, thus more fulfillment. The predator is focused, the prey is distracted and anxious.
- Reduce distractions. Put the phone away where you can’t notice those pesky notifications (or turn off unimportant notifications)
- Keep it simple. Don’t be self-critical, accept the process and the experience.
- Find a teacher, coach or school. The fastest way to do anything is to be mentored by someone who has done it successfully. A teacher was once a beginner and has probably experienced or is familiar with everything you are struggling with. A good teacher can provide perspective and guide you along a well-beaten yet so often misunderstood path.
About the DeRose Method:
The DeRose Method is a unique lifestyle proven to help develop an individual’s brain, body and emotions, through techniques (breathing, body awareness and physical health, relaxation, concentration, meditation) and concepts (mental attitude, ability to cope with pressure, behavioral and emotional management, relational skills and management, stress management and good nourishment). These skills build the solid foundation upon which one’s daily performance will thrive.
The DeRose Method is helping many Americans reach their desired path to success by empowering them to achieve high performance in work and life. For more information, or to find a school please visit: www.derose-method.us
John Chisenhall is the Director & Instructor of the DeRose Method in New York City. The DeRose Method is a unique practice proven to help develop an individual’s brain, body and emotions, through techniques (breathing, body awareness and physical health, relaxation, concentration, meditation) and concepts (mental attitude, ability to cope with pressure, behavioral and emotional management, relational skills and management, stress management and good nourishment). These skills build the solid foundation upon which one’s daily performance will thrive.