Written By: Akhil Bindra, MD
You’ve all heard the word by now. Meditation. Several thoughts have likely crossed your mind. Why? What is it? Sounds like a waste of time. Sounds hokey. That’s not for me. Can’t do it, I’m horrible at that stuff. And those thoughts are probably just the half of it.
How about technology? How many have wanted the latest iPhone? Mac Book? The latest video game system? The underlying reason for all of that is the operating system. The more advanced the operating system is, the more dynamic the output is.
What about your own operating system? How much effort do any of us put into our own operating system? There’s no doubt that a higher performing “operating system” leads to enhanced performance and satisfaction in all facets.
Our “operating system” is our own minds. And refining our own minds is best done by meditating. The health benefits are clear: lower blood pressure, enhanced sleep, less anxiety, and increased energy just scratch the surface. What is even more appealing is that a regular meditation practice will make you happier. In fact, meditation has even shown to slow down our natural startle reflex, the response to something that makes us “jump”. This is proof that meditation can give us the space needed between a stimuli and our choice in how we respond.
The ABC National news anchor and author, Dan Harris, came to the revelation that even if meditation makes one “10% happier” the investment is worth it. Dan has a NYT best seller and podcast by the same name (10% Happier). By working on your mind, your perspective and approach to day-to-day life shift.
Are you wondering how to get started? Carving out 5 minutes a day is a great way to start. It’s advisable that it be at the same time of day (morning vs evening, for example). This is just the basics of trying to successfully form any new habit. Next, recognize that it will be very hard. That’s OK! With time, it will get easier. After that, just set a timer for five minutes. Close your eyes and don’t open them until the alarm sounds. During this, you will likely think you didn’t set the alarm. You did. Resist the temptation to open your eyes. With your eyes closed, count your breaths. It helps if you have an image or object to focus on. It could be any object or scene (The Ocean, or Mountains and trees are some common ones). However, just keeping your mind blank is also an option. Then, observe our thoughts. Label them. Anger, jealousy, sadness, happiness, whatever it may be. Label the thought as if you are the audience in a play, just watching the show that is your mind. You are acting as a witness to your own thoughts.
The process will be challenging. Stick with it. Don’t give up. The five minutes a day will be transformative in all aspects of your life.