15 Lessons Learned in My First 1,000 Hours of Meditation
This article was republished by the Huffington Post.
While I’m far from being a Zen Master, meditation has changed my life in ways I could never have imagined.
Here’s what I’ve learned in my first 1,000 hours of practice and how YOU can start feeling the benefits of meditation WITHOUT being intimidated.
Two minutes per day is all you need to start feeling the benefits.
15 Lessons Learned
- You don’t have to sit in lotus pose, buy a cushion, or wear hippie pants. Meditation should be easy and effortless. I simply wake up, put my headphones on and lay back down in bed. Think: final relaxation pose in yoga. No cave in the Himalayas required.
- Meditation is non-secular, non-religious, and can be non-spiritual. There is a lot of science published in medical journals you can geek out on about meditation... Maybe you’ll feel more connected to quantum physics like Neil deGrasse Tyson and realize our bodies are just a bajillion particles spinning around the sun. Regardless, try not to get hung up on conceptualizing or judging meditation. Relax and put your skeptical mind at ease.
- Don’t try to stop thinking. It will feel impossible. Be cool with whatever pops up in your mind and just observe it. Let it go and don’t get upset with yourself. It’s perfectly normal; this is meditation.
- Take what you learn into your daily life. When you feel emotions, be cool with them. Observe them. Let them go. Don’t get upset about it. Eventually, you will learn to respond to thing in life instead of reacting to them. You can even practice while you wash your dishes or brush your teeth. Mindfully pay attention to what thoughts pop up and observe without attaching to them.
- Be nice to yourself. This isn’t a competition (nor is yoga!). Did you catch yourself thinking mean thoughts about yourself in the mirror? Notice what you just said about your unibrow and try to be less judgemental. This is what “mindfulness” is.
- You don’t have to close your eyes to meditate. You can do it all the time! Take a walk, observe your thoughts, let them go. There is a great book called, Walk Like a Buddha (Even if Your Boss Sucks, Your Ex Is Torturing You, and You're Hungover Again). Read it!
- Become a better listener and be less scatterbrained. Have a million thoughts per minute like I do? Slowly learn to tune them out while you are listening to someone. Meditation helps you focus! This has dramatically improved my relationships; people notice that I care.
- Meditation literally rewires your brain. Meditation creates new neural pathways through neuroplasticity and builds more folds in your cortex. It’s just like your brain going to the gym and lifting weights to build new muscle. You are literally evolving and growing a more advanced brain. No wonder IQ can increase through meditation. Thank you to Dave Asprey’s and his new book Head Strong for explaining this.
- Find what works for you. Obviously that 10 day silent vipassana retreat is going to sound intimidating. Maybe downloading a free app is more your style? Check out Omvana, Calm and Headspace.
- “Breathe motherfu*ker!” --Iceman Wim Hof. The more you pay attention to your breath, the more likely you will remember to breathe in stressful situations. Learning to breathe properly has also helped my athletic performance enormously! Better yet, my stress levels are about 1/10th of what they were before I started meditating.
- Be more conscious of what you feed your brain and body. Three years ago I started eating Bulletproof and my productivity, mood, attention span, and mental clarity dramatically improved. Meditation has helped me become more aware of how shitty I feel after consuming sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy, or anything cooked in vegetable oil. Now, I can feel the affects of my diet.
- Good news: eating can be a meditation too. My sense of taste has improved, because I eat slower and make an effort to enjoy food. I no longer eat with a shovel. The PhD-Shaman Alberto Villodo talks about how humans can relearn to use the senses we’ve lost since polluting our minds and bodies. This includes your sixth sense and intuition. Bon appetite!
- Enjoy nature more. Now that I’m more aware, a walk through the wilderness sounds like a magical symphony to me. I am able to spot animals much more often and I’m usually not thinking about work or the next thing on my to-do list. Get outside.
- Block out the noise. Now, I keep my phone on airplane mode most of the time and I log-on to social media just a few times per day. This is one of the biggest things that meditation has helped me with. Think of yourself as a main character in a movie you are watching and give yourself some coaching… But avoid saying things like, “Get off your phone jackass!”
- Be kind. At the end of the day, being kind to yourself, allows you to be kind to others. If you wouldn’t call someone else a jackass, why would you speak to yourself like that? Once you truly respect yourself, it’s amazing how quickly others begin to respect you.
Have a meditation question or a tip that has worked for you? Please share it below.