When people start their careers they often feel they have to work 24/7 to achieve their goals. This is especially true when they’re young and think their power is unlimited. And indeed, being active, flexible and committed is how you get to the top. But sooner or later most people find out that working is nothing without resting.
Balance is Key
Have you ever watched or attended a Marathon? Other than maybe at the very end of one, you won’t see any sprinting. Most runners will ration their power. How does this relate to your career? Easy. While we’d all love to give 100% all of the time, our powers are, sadly, limited and we either start to give 50%, 100% of the time or maybe 70%, 70% of the time. We all need to either rest or ration our powers, it’s unavoidable. The key to productivity might not always be more work. Often less work can often lead to more productivity! How, you ask? Well, one option that’s worked for me is meditation.
Buddhists, teachers and monks have been practising meditation for hundreds of years. Today, some of the most successful entrepreneurs and creatives in the world practise it too to clear their minds. It’s no coincidence that we as humans seek to understand the world by looking inside ourselves, as it’s a ritual observed by many civilizations throughout time and in many different places around the world.
When I first tried meditation some years ago I remember being very stubborn and easily distracted. I always had problems concentrating which really wasn’t helpful in math class when I was young. Then I started to meditate and, in doing so, found a way to drop all those distractions and concentrate.
What’s great is that it’s a tool I can use in the middle of the day, after a period of creative work, to avoid a dip in energy. A short 10-20 minute meditation session can give you a boost in productivity that will help you avoid that 3:30-4:30pm decline in productivity many experience. You’ll find yourself more relaxed and more confident.
Meditation In detail
There are many ways to practice meditation. The way I like to do it is called Anapanasati, a technique exercised by Buddha himself. The goal is to observe your breath without trying to control it. This sounds easy, but in practice, isn’t. While we all breathe automatically, as soon as we notice our breath we gain control over it. The key here is to accept everything around you by letting your breath work without you interfering.
Before doing anything be sure to turn off all distractions like your phone or traffic noise by closing your windows.
The first step is to find your position. Many like to sit cross legged, Indian style. Others prefer to lay down on their back with a cushion behind their head. Both are great for meditation.
The second step is to take charge and calm your breath, the goal being to slowly let your body take control over it. Try to breathe through your belly and not your chest. The most important thing, however, is that you return your awareness back to your breath once your thoughts drift away. This requires patience and, in the beginning, can be very hard. But after a couple of sessions it will get easier. There are many different techniques, some more lengthy and complex, others rather simple, but the result is almost always more awareness and mindfulness.
Please keep in mind that while I like to get people excited about meditation, I am in no way an authority on on the subject, so I highly advise you seek out further reading on this topic to find a way to meditate that’s best for you. It’s worth it!
We all want a clearer picture of what’s ahead of us but, sadly, we can’t look into the future. What we can do, however, is sharpen our minds through meditation. Next time, instead of simply taking a nap, find a quiet place and start to meditate. Rearrange your thoughts and you’ll get a clearer vision of what you want to achieve in life. You won’t be disappointed!