When I wake up each morning, a few things happen.
As soon as the chimes from my alarm go off, all my dogs are on high alert. My little dog climbs out of her duvet, and gives herself a little good morning shake. My big dogs stand and start wagging their tails, knocking their tails against my closet doors, the sound easily mistaken for a crowd of people pounding on my bedroom door to wake me up.
I get up and shepherd them downstairs to feed them and let them out. Meanwhile, the cat looks in the bay window, and rubs up against it, reminding me that she is hungry too. I feed her, and I go upstairs.
My animals get fed first thing in the morning. And I start my day by feeding my mind, heart, and spirit through meditation.
My path to meditation was not the typical one. More often than not people struggle with finding the time, or fearing that they are somehow doing meditation wrong. All legitimate concerns. I actually found meditative states inside my other spiritual practices, so did not understand the need to engage in a devoted meditation routine. I came at it from the other side of the street: I’ve already found meditative states, so why do I need meditation?
This idea, I think, is why most people don’t pick up meditation. They don’t see the point. And ask: what benefit is there?
The benefits are pretty intense. There are nearly endless, and scientifically backed, benefits of meditation, and there is a very detailed summary of those benefits here.
What I wish to speak to though, is how meditation can impact your daily work life. No matter the type of meditation practice you engage in, it facilitates a feeling of awareness. Awareness of your thoughts and emotions, and not feeling like you are your thoughts and emotions. There is a fine distinction there that meditation helps facilitate. When you enter into this awareness, then depression, anxiety, panic, and fear are all reduced, oftentimes to the point of total eradication, at least for a moment. But you carry that moment with you throughout the day. And replenish those reserves the next day when you meditate again.
Just like my animals get nutrition first thing in the morning, meditation is a very human form of nutrition. It is a way by which we can strengthen ourselves from the stressors of daily life.
I’ve also noticed an ability to get more done due to meditation. When I start my day with meditation, I’ve cleared out the “monkey chatter” of my brain, and face the day fresh and positive. Therefore, I can be more focused on the task at hand, more dexterous with my thought patterns and problem-solving, therefore increasing my productivity overall. This means not feeling like I have a constant backlog of stuff that will never get done. Through meditation, it all gets done, and in the right time.
Meditation also fosters more compassion and empathy, which is always needed in a work environment. I stop inventing imaginary narratives about people, accepting them as they are, and try to help where I can. This kind of kindness is infectious, and starts to spread to other parts of the company naturally. But the start point is meditation.
What I know for sure is something fairly simple: when I meditate, my day is easy. If I don’t meditate, my day is hard. This in no way relates to the quality of work, or amount of work I produce on any given day. This ties to my own state of mind, and how satisfied I am performing my job, and the energy I bring to my job and to my co-workers. Meditation equates to a good work day. Lack of meditation correlates to a bad work day.
Especially in Silicon Valley, this trend has been growing in popularity in a big way. Wellness perks can now include massage, yoga, and meditation programs for employees. Companies like Google have turned to experts like Mirabai Bush, who introduced the integrative Search Inside Yourself program. Silicon Valley also plays host to the annual Wisdom 2.0 conference, gathering tech and business leaders together to learn how to integrate mindfulness practices into the work environment. While the industry continues to warm up to such programs, it is through individual practice that you can impact your work life today.
While the benefits are seemingly endless, so too are the paths to meditation. I don’t believe there is any wrong way to meditate. The intention to meditate is itself a form of meditation. Learning to meditate is a process. This is a muscle that ancient cultures the world over revered, and would instruct its citizens in early on in life. We don’t do this today by-and-large, therefore it requires more time and dedication to build our meditation practice as adults.
What I can share is what works for me. I meditate anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes each morning. I find a comfortable sitting position, and will usually light some candles. I don’t meditate in silence. I require sound. I do listen to binaural beats, which are sounds at frequencies designed to stimulate higher vibration brain waves. If my mind wanders, I try to focus on my breath. If my mind wanders, I let the thoughts come, greet them, thank them, and return to meditating. Meditation itself is a portal that is equal parts designed to know yourself and get outside yourself. It isn’t about achieving a state, it is about the interplay of multiple states, and finding a way to ride the waves peacefully. If you can achieve this in meditation, you can achieve it in the ups-and-downs of your everyday.
I invite you to start meditation. Play with it. Try it. See how it improves your work life, and the rest of your life as well. Because honestly, who doesn’t want to live a better life? And in just 15 minutes a day? I think we all have time for that.