There is no ‘end goal’ in meditation but one vague aim is to get good enough at meditating that you can eventually clear your mind or detach from your thoughts at will.
This way, you can then prevent yourself from being distracted by unwanted thoughts whenever you want to be.
I like to call this ‘bubble time’. Bubble Time is the name for the small ‘segments’ of time I give myself throughout the day when I can be completely relaxed.
Imagine that you have a very stressful day and you’ve been working hard through a massive to-do list. You need to make lots of calls, manage your work team and just generally deal with a lot of fires. Plus you have a date tonight with someone that you think will be awkward and you have pressing, on-going money concerns. Sound familiar?
Anyway, you’re on the bus going from one meeting to the next and in that time there is no benefit to being stressed. In other words, you can carry on worrying about all those things you have to do if you want to… but it’s not going to do you any good. What would be far preferable, would be if you use this short amount of time as a break in order to recuperate.
Now if you’ve never practiced meditation, you’re going to struggle to do that.
But if you haven’t? Then you can put yourself in a meditative state and become indifferent to that stress. You can sit back and just clear your mind. Now, when you arrive at your meeting, you’re going to be much more recharged and energized because your brain has had the opportunity to get some rest. The result is that you’ll feel much better and you’ll work much more efficiently as well.
If you get really good at this, then you can eventually start to employ ‘moving meditation’ as in Tai Chi. Except now, you’re going to be in a meditative and relaxed, focussed state at the same time as walking, talking and doing other things. You’ll be impervious to stress because you’ve learned to control your mind and control your emotions.
Because you aren’t giving your concerns the emotional weight that you may have done in the past, your brain isn’t activating the ‘salience network’ that it uses to respond to threats and you’re able to just carry on going about your business in a completely calm and efficient manner!
Meditation is one way to stop worrying about all those little nagging concerns and doubts. Another way though is just to become more present and more in the moment.
How can you do this? One method is to start focussing on your body and on your senses a little more.
The fact of the matter is that most of us are so in our own heads that we barely notice half of what’s going on around us. We walk in a dream state worrying about work, or about our relationships and we hardly take the time to stop and smell the roses – literally or metaphorically.
Try this right now. Turn off any music that you’re listening too and instead just start to notice the sounds around you. Really listen! What can you hear? Perhaps the hum of traffic outside? Maybe the murmur of conversation in the room? Maybe you can hear next door?
Or perhaps you’re outside? Maybe you can hear the sound of birds?
Likewise, you can probably smell a whole load of things you hadn’t noticed. And if you take the moment to feel your own body, then you can probably notice the sensation of the seat pushing into your legs and into your buttocks. Maybe you can feel the blood filling your face and making you feel hot. Or perhaps there’s a cool wind blow against you. What direction is it heading?
Likewise, listen to the sounds of your own breathing and feel your abdomen expand and shrink as you do.
Once you do this, you’ll find that you stop worrying what’s going on around you and that you start to appreciate your environment a little more. There’s so much that you normally miss!
You can try doing this on walks too. Go for a walk with no music, no phone and nothing else and try just being present and noticing the world around you. It’s a calming and invigorating experience at the same time!
Being More Present in Conversation
Practicing this is important because as with practicing meditation, it will eventually become something that you can just engage at will. Now you can choose when you want to start listening better to what people are saying to you and when you want to really focus on the day out you’re having with your children.
Again, you can leave your work concerns at home.
And try focussing on the sensations of your body more the next time you’re being intimate with a sexual partner. Don’t worry about your technique, what you’re going to do next, whether they like you… instead, really focus on how the touch of their hand feels on your body. You’ll find that you instinctively know what to do next and that you start to be much more passionate and responsive. You’ll become a better lover, simply by getting out of your own head. And you’ll feel it far more forcefully.
This is true for everything else as well. Next time you have a bath, take a moment to really appreciate the warmth and the softness of the water against your skin. Indulge yourself in the smell!
The next time you eat cereal in the morning, remind yourself how much you enjoy that cereal and how happy you are to not be going to work.
This is what so many of us don’t do. So many of us are constantly in a dream state and worrying about other things that we actually miss what’s going on around us.
Being stressed and having no control over your mind is doubly problematic – because not only does it make us unhappy directly but it also distracts us from the things going on around us all the time that could be making us happier.
Oh and what this does for our relationships is also fantastic. Right now, being distracted by work could well be destroying your relationship with your family and friends.
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