“The unreflected / unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
We live in this crazy world of noise, rush, schedules, busyness, deadlines. Sometimes in the midst of all of this we can feel lost.
It is that treadmill feeling. So many of us really want to find a method or time to just stand still, breathe in deeply and get balance and focus back.
It’s a space of stillness, a space of calmness, a space where in the midst of busy-ness and noise, you can be at one. We could call this topic stillness – or oneness – or being. Meditation in its hundreds of forms is the way to achieve this state.
Many people confuse this topic with being like a Buddhist monk sitting cross legged with a ramrod straight back for an hour each day. Sure, for some that works, but ultimately each person has to find their way to achieve or access their inner peace.
This is about finding your space or pathways to stillness and peace often in the midst of the rush and noise. So we are talking here about YOUR way to access your inner pool of stillness, quiet and strength, sometimes when the pressure is off and sometimes in the midst of chaos. It is your doorway to being centred regardless of what is going on around you.
Meditation means to think, to reflect, to consider. In the modern day, what we’re really saying when we talk about meditation is creating a space where those things happen very naturally and to the best, highest level. We live in a time when there is so much noise and rush, so often with our egos running our lives, we’re busy, busy, busy. There’s a real danger that in the midst of all of that, we don’t find the little space to slow down, to be still and that means we can lose our sense of self.
What we want to achieve here is to find OUR way to listen inside, to hear the deeper message that can only be heard when you are still and quiet!
How do we become aware of the messages in the midst of all the rush of life and learn from them?
So for us ‘meditation’ can be anything from the one hour sit in the early morning accompanied by breathing exercises and mantras to the ten second breathing, centring focus on nature or body sensation just before your next meeting and everything in between.
But the results are the same or similar. It’s that clarity that you can get from the deeper wisdom that you can unlock when you meditate, and listen not just to your own voice, but the world around you and inside of you.
One of the great benefits of longer forms of meditation is that they give you more space, a chance for a rhythm to develop – of breathing, of increased awareness, of gently going beyond distractions. The longer meditation form invites you to wait silently and patiently and listen for the wisdom. That’s the real benefit of meditation. That actual wisdom will often first come in a gut feeling. It is as if you get an intuition, you get still, you’re silent, you’re calm. And that’s when you become aware of the gut feeling. That’s where the little whisper voice, the little image comes and you’re not going to hear that, you’re not going to feel that if it’s go, go, go rush, rush, rush.
The inner wisdom comes in its own time – not yours. And it comes when you are not waiting for it as an end in itself; it comes when you create the inner space for it to be heard or felt. You don’t have to be sitting cross legged either. For some it is the long walk – run – surf – it can be the quiet sit with a long piece of music or engaged in some form of art. The medium is not set in stone – the only litmus test is what works for you.
Discipline here is vital though. Like every form of skill development you need to work at it and it will take time to develop. Part of that discipline will be to find the time and the place that works for you. For Pricey who travels a lot he will often he meditate on a flight. Many people find early morning suits them. Some people have their favourite place. Some light a candle, others use gentle background music. Again – it does not matter – the only litmus test is what works for you.
But often it’s the small times that can be the most effective. Particularly in the modern world, where most of the guys who are listening to this can’t find an hour a day to meditate. Sure some of us go through patches where we can meditate daily for an hour – fantastic. But what are ways that work in this crazy busy world? Here are some, but again, find what form or combination of forms works for you. You will find that all of them in some way have silence in them; that is one of the common treads. In all meditation forms in some way there will be;
Distraction will always be there; expect it – but not as a battle to be won but as a friend to walk with. When you become aware of the distraction, you become aware of the actual monkey mind, all the methods in one way or another have that awareness and then a letting go. From the letting go you will learn to ‘fall deeper’ into awareness or silence or stillness. You will be in awe of the effect – not matter how short your ‘meditation’ time is.
The five to 15 minute reset
You are in the middle of a busy day – phone going hot, emails like a reversing beeper. You plan for it, you close the door, turn the phone off and switch off the computer. Then:
Mini sensory meditation.
Simply close your eyes and go through your senses. Firstly listen and become aware of all the sounds around you, feel your breathing going in and out, breath in deeply the scents of the day, open your eyes and take in the beauty around you. This mini meditation works best in a small park or by a river.
Just breathing and in fact being focused on your breathing, and so as you breathe soften your vision, so you’re not focused on anything in particular. Softening means open peripheral vision, nice softening in the vision, and then just breathing.
There’s a real trick to the breathing. It’s called the Circadian rhythm and essentially it’s how many seconds you breathe in for, how many seconds you pause, how many seconds you breathe out, and how many seconds you pause. So there’s a cycle, there’s those four steps. Now the key is that the cycle should be as even as possible, so if you breathe in for two seconds, and pause for one, then breathe out for two seconds and pause for one. Then breathe in for two, and pause for one. And also when you breathe in make sure it’s an evenly smooth breath. It’s got an evenness to it, and when you breathe out, it’s also even, not rushed.
The methods just named take the energy away from the noise and rush and busyness (and often ego) and channel it back to your inner true self.
The Power of NOW
Pricey is a big fan of a guy called Eckhart Tolle who talks about the Power of Now. The power is to be present in the NOW, in the present moment wherever you are to find a space of awareness. And all you have to do to access your inner wisdom and voice is to be aware. As simple and yet as difficult (and yet as profound) as that!
See if you can become aware for ten seconds without distraction – then later that day twenty seconds. Try to do it three or four times a day – just BE in the present moment but be there AWARE. You will be in awe of the results.
When you can get out into nature. Not only is it good for your mental and physical health, it WILL bring you into the present moment and aware. Greg recalls being at Victoria Falls, the enormity and power of the falls just blew him away. When you lose yourself in the beauty and the amazingness of nature it is a powerful thing and a great doorway to an inner awareness beyond ego. Nature, whether huge like Victoria Falls or small like a flower can truly gift you with a greater sense of self.
e. Loving kindness
This one may surprise people but often to deliberately choose random acts of kindness can bring you into greater self-awareness, balance and wisdom. It is a mindset / heart set. It is choosing a bit of a state of saying, right I’m going to drop all the hate in my life, I’m just going to forgive people and love them for who they are, and be kind.
When this happens so often the stress and the troubles of life just fade away and you are left with peace and a smile on the face!
Come into the present throughout your day and this time be aware of that little ego voice that sits on your shoulder and whispers in your ear. The ego’s whispering in our ear, and the ego loves fights, it loves us versus them. So when I become aware, almost step back from the ego voice as if I’m someone else observing it. So there’s this Damien, and he’s fighting all these battles and he wants to beat that person, win and lose and all those sorts of things. I’m stepping back, I’m aware of it, I listen and then I just observe, and often when I observe, the gut feeling comes up, that wisdom voice comes up and I can see what is really going on – which then takes away the power of the ego.
The fruit of everything we are talking about is presence. As you begin to live more in the now, be less reactive to ego, able to discipline yourself with greater periods of silence and awareness, this will all lead to presence and to its cousin gratitude.
As you become more aware and less responsive to ego you will grow to value yourself more but also value life and be grateful for all that you are and have.
The Science backs us up Meditation (small or great) like exercise trips the mind into a different space. When you go back to being more present more neuro-chemicals are released. During meditation the release of neurochemicals have been proven to really drive good health, improve your immune system, slow your heart rate down, have an incredible effect on your entire health and well-being.
A lot of people have tried meditation in some form and feel that they have failed. Why?
1. Monkey Mind: Monkey mind are those hundreds of constant little words or ideas or thoughts that pop into your head and just drive you crazy. There is no other answer here other than to know that they will come and then – quietly, simply, without a fight – let the idea / voice go and come back to centre. So if you doing a breathing exercise and a little thought just pops in your head, you get distracted for 60 seconds, hold, just come back to your breathing, and don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s okay, everybody goes through that – everybody does it. Just come back to centre. Keep coming back to centre, it’s almost like the brain has been so distracted for so long, that when you try and focus on one thing, for a set period of time, it likes the attention and so it gets distracted by anything, so just keep coming back to centre, and keep coming back to centre, keep coming back to centre, and you’ll work it out.
2. Waiting for ‘the voice’ – waiting for ‘the wisdom’ the bolt of lightning – the voice from heaven. This is the sure recipe for disaster. If you are waiting for the ‘answer’ or whatever that is the surest way to ensure it does not come. You’re waiting for the voice, you’re sitting there, you’re doing one of the things we’ve just been saying, and you’re waiting for the deep wisdom voice that’s going to say the most profound things. Yoda’s going to appear over your shoulder and say something profound, “Damien and Greg, the Force is with you!” And you know, and so you’re sitting there, and at the back of your mind, deep within you, you’re waiting, waiting, waiting and that becomes the worst thing. So go into, be in the space and don’t expect anything, just be in the space. Trust it – when it is meant to happen – it will.
3. Wrong time, the wrong location. It is important to have a set time and location where you will not be interrupted. You don’t feel like you need to rush anywhere else, you can dedicate yourself 100% to right now. For some it’ll be the start of the day, others will be at the end of the day, others will be at lunch time, and you just go for that slow walk around their block. Find your space, your particular time.
Key to all this though, it’s like any aspect of our lives, we’ve got to have the discipline. It’s like any technique or skill it needs to be worked on. You know you’re there, when you’ve got a rhythm – when there is a pattern and it is you.
In the end, the feeling that you’re going for, or the experience that you’re looking to create is a sense of oneness, oneness of self, oneness with the planet, a real sense of self and of calm and clarity in the midst of the busyness of life. When you come out of your meditation time – in whatever form it takes you will feel like you’re more in control, calmer and happier!