We all know that busy feeling. So busy it’s bordering on overwhelm and when people ask ‘how’s thing’s?’ We say “Oh, you know, busy?” Well, lately I’ve been that “busy” person & I’ve heard myself say that exact line and I’ve also observed that I don’t feel particularly good about saying it. Busy with work. Busy with interning. Busy with training. Busy with business. Busy with general busyness. Yep, just busy. Too busy to blog, it would seem. And I’ve missed it. You too, right? So, as I find myself with a less busy weekend, I return to the keys of my MacBook for writing that’s not of the work or business variety but instead just me writing about me. And please, don’t get me wrong, everything keeping me busy, well it’s good stuff – things I asked for, which I want to do & which I’m grateful for. But what happened was that while doing all those things I switched back onto auto-pilot and started going through the motions, focussing again on delivering results for others, forgetting in the process to make time for me and to be present in the things which I was doing. I was back on the treadmill & when people asked me ‘how’s things?’, my head was so caught up in thinking about all the things I ‘had’ to do, and focussing on looking straight ahead…to the next task…the next place I had to be, I couldn’t formulate an answer so instead it was easier to just say “busy”.
But, I’ve come to realise that no matter how busy I am I can aways make time for the things I love. I simply have to choose to do them. It really is as easy as that. Nobody else can make me do anything. And because this year I’ve chosen to follow my heart and unleash my creative side (as the norm, not the exception) when I get caught up in all the other things, I can recognise really quickly that I start to get a bit stressed out. I miss creating and I miss taking time. So after another busy week I decided to hit pause on the treadmill and regroup. And in thinking about this idea of busy and what it really means it also got me thinking about something I’ve thought I would blog about for a while, meditation.
Meditation? Yes, my friends, meditation. I say that because I know that some of my friends will be like “Meditation?! that sounds a bit hippyish” Why do I know that? Because a year ago I thought the same. In all honesty I knew very little about meditation but I know I thought it was something that wasn’t for me. A bit woo woo for my liking. I remember sitting next to a guy at an event and he mentioned he was doing an ‘intro to meditation’ talk and that I should come along. And while I sat there listening and nodding along, inside I was running a story along the lines of “Um, meditation?! me? I think not. God, I hope he doesn’t make me sign up now”.
But, as the things which are meant for us so often do, it must have planted a seed, because after that meeting with the meditation man, ‘meditation’ seemed to pop up as a topic of conversation everywhere I went and when my coach (who’d already started to teach me about all things mindfulness) suggested I try the app ‘Headspace’ after I complained “I can’t meditate, I’m doing it wrong!” I thought I could give it a go, nothing to lose and so, I downloaded the app. And it was just what I needed because now meditation has become something which I do and see multiple benefits of.
The topic of busyness got me thinking about meditation this week because in my busy days, I treated meditation as another thing I had to get to on my ‘to-do’ list. On many days I told myself I just didn’t have time for it. But I was forgetting in fact that in those moments of chaos it would actually help calm my mind and help me through the ‘busy time’ I had created for myself by focussing on creating time to just breathe. Which sounds really simple and the sceptics are probably thinking “yeah, nah, I can’t see how it works”. It does. Try it and tell me it doesn’t.
Not only does meditation help you value your time and be present but it also helps you listen to your internal dialogue, without judgement. Simply to notice what comes up. And for me that has been a massive help this year as I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone and learnt to trust my true self. How? By starting to know when it’s my ego talking, making up illusions that I’ve talked about in earlier posts, versus the heart or intuition, which when I’ve listened to, and acted upon, has brought me some pretty amazing opportunities this year.
There are soo many different meditation practices out there, so many programmes and books and downloads but I’m a big fan of the Headspace app, because for beginners very quickly it starts to answer all of the questions you have around meditation. Like ‘is it all cross-legged chantting?’ No. Seriously, it’s actually not, put simply they describe meditation as sitting still, closing your eyes and focussing on your breathing, you can do that, right? The App has over 3 million users so I know I’m not alone, people benefit from this. If you’re new to meditation, try their free 10-day meditation guide, which is where I started. Their founder Andy Puddicombe is also the voice of the app, and I must confess, as a fan of an accent, I do also rather enjoy his somewhat soothing Bristol accent. You want to download it now, don’t you?
I’m sure this post isn’t the first thing you’ve read about meditation or mindfulness. Both are being talked about heaps at the moment, not least for their benefits to our health which include decreased anxiety and depression, increased memory, empathy and pain tolerance. It’s a workout for the brain which has no ill side effects, it’s free and you can take it anywhere. Um, what’s the catch? No catch & no omming required.
Many friends I’ve told about the app have dismissed it and said they’ve tried meditation once but they can’t stop their thoughts. They can’t still their mind. But, that there is where they’re going wrong. It’s not about pushing our thoughts or feelings away, it’s about observing them, letting them come and go with ease and acceptance. And I could totally relate to their frustrations, because when I started I kept thinking I wasn’t doing it right. I’d meet people who talked about these amazing visions or experiences they’d had while meditating and yet I had had nothing, nada, ziltch. Just a whole load of random thinking. I was convinced I had to get something from it. Well for a start, everyone’s experience is going to be different and it takes time to get into the practice, but practice you should. I remember someone describing it like having a brick wall in front of you, each time you meditate one of the bricks falls away. Each time getting more attuned to you. It’s not something you’re going to get overnight. It’s something you need to continue to do to start to see the ongoing benefits. Do it without expectations and see how you go. You don’t do one squat at the gym and get the technique and benefits right away, do you? No. Well the gym for the mind needs you to go more than once too!
I can genuinely say that mediation has allowed me to de-stress. Plus, I’m a lot less reactive to situations which before would have seen me get quite quickly stressed or upset. Now, if I find myself getting a bit stressed amongst the chaos of the day, I’ll take a few deep breathes and feel the relaxed vibe of meditation come over me. Do I do it every day? Some weeks yes, others no. But what’s important is not to make myself feel bad about it when I don’t do it, instead notice that I’ve missed it and return to the practice when I’m ready. Which when I do, and I enjoy it, I am reminded to do it more often. And it totally doesn’t need to be for hours on end. Even two minutes can have the desired effect. And you might wonder what this has to do with a blog about business. Well everything really because it’s how I’m being in my business. And that being is assisted through the practice of meditation. Many influential business leaders have also spoken about the benefits of meditation, it would seem it’s really rather popular.
Try it. See how you go. Try it again. Keep trying it. Allow it to bring benefits to your life.
“You don’t do meditation, meditation does you.” – Arianna Huffington, Thrive
And if you think you don’t have time to meditate? Ask yourself if you have time to be stressed? Honestly, there is something really amazing about being able to take just 10 minutes out from your day to sit, with yourself, and not need to be anywhere or do anything but just breathe in and out, in and out…
If you need further convincing here are 5 rather famous faces who swear by meditation.
Images: Credit – https://www.headspace.com/