“You have power over your mind, not some outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.”
- Marcus Aurelius
Meditation and mindfulness are easy things to mix up. Put simply, meditation is the regular practice of calming your mind. Mindfulness is paying more attention to the present moment. The reason the two show up together so often is that to be truly mindful in your days is difficult if you haven’t learned to quiet your mind through meditation first.
Tim Ferriss has interviewed over 300 elite performers in fields from business to sports to creative industries for the Tim Ferriss Podcast, and found over 80% say meditation plays a key role in their success. That said, if you are new to meditation then chances are you can’t just sit with your legs crossed for 10 minutes and truly meditate, so how do you get started? Should you get started at all?
The main benefit of meditation is a calm mind. Imagine your mind as an ocean, and your thoughts are waves on this ocean. If you are emotional, anxious, or stressed, then this causes big waves and a rough ocean. A rough ocean makes for bad decision making. You will be reactive, impulsive, and not in control of your day. You will be knocked off balance by your thoughts, pulled in all directions. When you learn to calm your ocean the waves get smaller. Things no longer seem so scary or dramatic, and you can pause to reflect before deciding how to act. You will make better decisions and feel more in control. This is what a calm mind gives you.
So what can you do now? Without doubt the best tools available to meditators at all levels are guided meditation apps like Headspace and Calm. On your phone and always available, apps give you access to professional meditation teachers whenever you need them. Start with a daily practice every morning before checking emails or messages on your phone. And if you feel like you need it, add in a second session between finishing work and starting your evening. And because you have everything you need on your phone, there is no reason to miss a session.
“If you don’t have ten f***ing minutes for your life, you don’t have a life.”
- Tony Robbins
All joy in life comes from mindfulness. The moments in life where we are really experiencing life, really living in the moment, these are mindful moments. When you sit on a beach and just look around soaking it all in, when you go out with friends and end up laughing all night, these are the moments we live for.
Mindfulness should be the goal of your meditation practice. Learn how to pause before making decisions and actually experience how you feel, rather than reacting to emotion like a balloon in the wind. Learn how to appreciate everything you are seeing, feeling, and doing, as it happens, rather than chasing the next experience, the next thought. Take a minute to just breathe and look around. You’ll be surprised what you see that everyone else is missing.
Tools & Books For Meditation & Mindfulness
Headspace and Calm Meditation Apps
Headspace and Calm both offer guided meditation straight from your phone. Headspace, for example, allows you to select a goal like losing weight or achieving a work milestone, and offers guided meditation sessions to support your goal. Both Headspace and Calm offer free trials, so you have no reason not to try.
The Tim Ferriss Podcast
Tim Ferriss is a successful entrepreneur, best selling author, and master podcaster. Early episodes of the podcast offer actionable strategies for getting ahead while more recent episodes offer deep dives into how a successful individual thinks, acts, and lives their life.
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Robin Sharma
Meditation books are easy to find on Amazon, and you can find books specifically for relaxation, sleep, anxiety and more with a quick search online. Many, though, aren’t very practical or relatable for the first-time meditator and often overdo it on spiritualness. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari shares the benefits of meditation practice in an easy to understand format.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”