When I first heard about meditation in 2011, I wasn’t sure it was for me. I was an MBA student and entrepreneur after all, not a Buddhist monk!
That all changed when I watched this video of Jon Kabat-Zinn talking at Google. I figured if meditation was good enough for Google employees, it was worth a shot.
I committed to a 30-Day Challenge: five minutes a day of meditation for the next 30 days.
Little did I know the epic journey I was embarking on…
Since then, I’ve fallen deeply in love with this practice and have been averaging 30 minutes a day for more than six years (for a total of ~1,150 hours).
Today, I want to share with you what I’ve learned along the way, hoping it will inspire you to start your meditation journey or to deepen your existing practice.
10 Things I Learned from 1000 Hours of Meditation
All of man’s difficulties are caused by his inability to sit, quietly, in a room by himself.
– Blaise Pascal
1. You can never stop thinking completely
Let’s get this one out of the way first: no matter how hard you try, you can never stop thinking completely. Even for experienced meditators, thoughts still arise. That’s okay!
Meditation isn’t about not thinking, it’s about learning to observe your thoughts without being victim to them.
2. Don’t believe your own thoughts
Byron Katie famously said, “Don’t believe your own thoughts.” What she meant is that not all thoughts are true. For example, if you’re feeling discouraged and think “This is too hard, it will never work,” you have the choice NOT to believe that thought.
3. You don’t have to be stressed
Most won’t admit it but many overachievers experience intense stress regularly. The insatiable drive to succeed comes at a cost: it makes us feel like there’s never enough time, and that we need to always be at our best (or else terrible things will happen).
Once you can discern your own thoughts (and calm yourself), stress becomes a non-factor and loses its ability to freak you out. This allows you to stay sharp, happy and focused even when things get intense. Talk about a superpower!
4. Insomnia can be cured
Imagine wasting one hour trying to fall asleep every night (when you already feel pressed for time every day). This happened to me for years and drove me crazy. I kept thinking, “If only there were an off-switch to my mind…”
Luckily that switch exists — it’s called meditation. Once you learn to observe your thoughts without latching onto them, you can intentionally slow down your mind, and fall asleep very rapidly (it now takes me less than five minutes on average — hallelujah!).
5. World-class productivity is trainable
Our society has the shortest attention span in history. Why? Because most people train themselves to be distracted and unfocused (think Facebook Newsfeed…).
If you want to achieve deep focus on command, you need to train! Spend a few minutes every morning building unwavering attention through meditation, and suddenly you’ll be able to ‘switch on’ whenever you want, remove all distractions, and get your work done MUCH faster.
6. There’s enough time for everything
With a strong meditation practice, you’ll see things more clearly: what really matters, what doesn’t, and what needs to be done. There’s enough time to achieve superb results in your career, be in great shape, spend quality time with your partner, AND go on epic adventures. You just need to slow down, see things clearly, and act accordingly.
7. Meaningful relationships are your birthright
Once we slow down and stop rushing through life, we can connect with others effortlessly. It’s what we’re designed to do. We judge less, appreciate more, and our relationships naturally improve.
Calm down your mind, and reconnect with your heart. Productivity isn’t the holy grail of life. Love is.
8. Meditation doesn’t have to be boring
For many, meditating for 30 minutes sounds excruciating. My solution: break it up into ‘exercises.’ When you go to the gym, do you do the same exercise for an hour? I hope not! You probably do a mix of squats, bench press, pull-ups, cardio, etc.
I invite you to do the same in your meditation: mix in some mindfulness meditation, gratitude, self-compassion, breathing exercises, visualization and intention-setting.
You’ll train more parts of your brain (thus increasing the benefits) and you’ll never be bored meditating again.
9. Genuine self-love is possible
Self-love gets talked about a lot in spiritual circles… but how does it actually work? For example, it’s very easy to catch our mistakes and notice our own shortcomings, but how do we move past the critical voice in our head?
First, we need to understand that mistakes and shortcomings are normal! Everyone is a work in progress, and that’s part of what makes life fascinating. Meanwhile, there are so many things about you that are brilliant, beautiful, and magical.
Pay attention and you’ll see so many reasons to love yourself.
10. Meditation is (almost) like a magic pill
If there were a pill that made us sleep better, be less stressed, have more friends, perform better at work, and love ourselves more, EVERYBODY would want it.
Well, that pill doesn’t exist — but as we just explored, that’s exactly what meditation does. Plus it’s free and doesn’t require any equipment.
Doesn’t get much better than this!
Now let’s turn it back to you: what’s your main takeaway from all this? And more importantly, what do you want to do moving forward?
Here’s my invitation to you: If you haven’t fully committed to your meditation practice, download my “Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Meditation” and get started ASAP. It will change your life.
If you’re already a regular meditator, how can you take your practice to the next level?
Whatever you’re ready to commit to, let me know in the comments below.