For the last 18 months, I have experimented extensively with meditation, including a 30-day challenge where I did at least 20 minutes to an hour of daily practice every day without fail, and I’ve noticed the recurring pattern that when I maintain my practice life gets better and better; when I let it go life seems to get increasingly chaotic.
The Story of the Buddha Under the Bodhi Tree
A relevant story of when Siddhartha Gautama reached enlightenment sitting in meditation for 49 days:
“As he persisted in his deepest meditation, Mara, the personification of severe impediments on the narrow pathway to truth, sought to distract him with his vast hordes of demonic tempters, ranging from hideous emblems of terror and torment to ethereal purveyors of ecstasy and enchanting reminiscence. Buddha calmly confronted and renounced all alike, calling upon bhumi, the earth, as his sole witness. According to the Padhana Sutta, Buddha once depicted Mara’s array of distractions thus:
“Lust is your first army, and dislike for the higher life the second; the third is hunger and thirst, and the fourth craving; the fifth army consists of torpor and sloth, and the sixth is fear; the seventh is doubt, the eighth hypocrisy and obduracy; the ninth includes gain, praise, honour and glory; and the tenth is looking down on others whilst exalting self. Such are your armies, Mara, and none who are weak can resist them. Yet only by conquering them is bliss attained.”
–Raghavan Iyer, Buddha and the Path to Enlightenment: I. Renunciation and Enlightenment, Hermes Magazine, May 1986
In a sense, meditation can be used as a tool to “quiet the monkey mind” and guard against the fears, worries, and distractions of daily life.
There are many many ways to practice meditation, mindfulness, or prayer. But the point is to find a way that works for you, to get your mind right as you confront the chaos of the world. If you’re new to it, I recommend finding something simple and sticking to it regularly for a period of time until you notice some results.
My Daily Practice
Here it is: my competitive-edge, 20-minute guided meditation I use every morning to give me superpowers.
For the last 3 months I have experimented with starting my day off with a “priming” meditation like this one from the wonderful Vishen Lakhiani at Mindvalley. And it makes a WORLD of difference!
It gets me in the optimal mental /emotional state to start my days strong and powerfully, whereas on days when I skip the meditation and let my unconscious instincts kick in, I tend to reach for the iPhone first thing when I wake up.
Scrolling through notifications, alerts, messages and emails first thing in the morning is a recipe for disaster, inviting in all manner of chaos and everybody else’s agenda for your time. Which is why I decided to stop letting email and notifications dominate the beginning of my day.
Feel free to bookmark this page and return to to this easy video often. If you want the full effect though, here’s exactly how I do my morning meditation actually:
- Sign up for Omvana (where you’ll get like 25 free meditation tracks)
- I log in every morning and select Vishen’s 6 Phase Meditation
- And I set it alongside the Alpha Soundscape for Deep Meditation (you can select any binaural ambient track to go along with your chosen guided meditation, so customize to your heart’s desire)
- Enjoy other tracks. There’s many for relaxation, for getting deeper into a meditation practice, for self-confidence, positive visualizations, etc.
If this is too much for you, then I recommend you start your days with a simple gratitude practice. I highly recommend you get your own copy of The 5 Minute Journal if you’d like to write by hand.
OR – simply create a practice of your own. I started with an ongoing text note, and just wrote out answers to the following 3 questions every morning:
- What are 3 things I’m grateful for?
- What are 3 things that would make today great?
- Write 2 daily affirmations (I am great because….)
- 3 amazing things that happened today
- 2 ways I could have made today better
Other resources for diving deeper into meditation:
If you want to learn what meditation is really about, I recommend Sam Harris’ book Waking Up – but you can start by listening to this free chapter on YouTube.
The best insight I can give is to ponder this lesson:
Do not be ruled by fear or desire.
Great apps for getting started: try Headspace for guided meditations and intro course, and Calm (on desktop and mobile) for setting your own meditations.
“At the end of the day, I can end up just totally wacky, because I’ve made mountains out of molehills. With meditation, I can keep them as molehills.”–Ringo Starr
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