Want to love your life and get more done in less time with less stress? Would you like calm, harmonious interactions with your family, friends and co-workers? How about just being more effective in your life?
If that’s what you desire, here’s some revolutionary advice – do nothing.
In fact, don’t just do nothing, but make a point of doing nothing every day.
Here’s an observation from teaching meditation for 15 years – a few minutes of doing nothing improves how we experience our circumstances. My hunch is that it provides us a more satisfying context from which to live our lives.
With to-do lists that are 27 hours long (and never ending), we are almost completely focused on what we have to accomplish in the world outside. We have multiple deadlines that seem to require our rushing through whatever we’re doing so we can rush through the next thing on our list. Kind of feels like chasing your tail. We act as if there were a merit badge for multi-tasking so dedicated are we to this rushing. Some level of stress comes with every deadline and item on your to-do list, and that stress is cumulative. That means that you are less effective at handling it with every passing day. For millions of Americans this continuous rushing leads to heart disease, which accounts for half of all deaths annually, two-thirds if you include stroke.
There is a way out of this tail-chasing death spiral. It is a meditation prescription – sit still and do nothing for a few minutes every day. As simple as this sounds, it is very hard for most people to follow through on this level of self-care.
First, there is the sitting still, doing nothing part: we are so externally focused that a few minutes of internal focus seems impossible – “All I’ll think of is my to-do list and stress out more!” one new meditator worried. At first this may happen; if it does, just label those thoughts with whatever emotion they carry and let them go. Don’t fight with your thoughts and don’t focus on any of them. Just label each one and let it go. Another will quickly bubble up to take its place. Label that one and let it go. Eventually one of these thoughts will have enough emotion to absorb your attention. That’s what happens at the beginning, and it’s okay. It is not a reason to quit; it just means you lack practice.
The next concern for most people is finding the time. Easy solution: make it easy on yourself. Start with 5 minutes, and do that for a week; then add 5 minutes the second week, and another 5 the third, and 5 more the fourth. My wife Linda and I only meditate 20 minutes, and 20 minutes is less than 2 percent of our waking hours. Surely you deserve 2 percent of your waking hours just for you, if for no other purpose than preventive maintenance. A few minutes of contemplation is good mental hygiene.
And finally there is the “every day” part of the prescription. We are all reluctant to make open-ended commitments, even ones that are good for us. Any time you sit in meditation you will benefit, but it is the practice of meditation that improves your life. Think of this practice as a chain: Every day you sit in meditation you put a link in your chain, and your goal is to make the chain as long as your life. On those days you don’t feel like meditating, sit for 5 minutes just to put a link in your chain because it is the length of your chain that matters, not the quality of any one meditation. The longer your chain of practice, the better you will be at the calm enjoyment of your life.
The secret to success in practice is to keep it simple and user-friendly. That is the core of the meditation practice Linda and I teach. We call it Unleash Your Inner Genius because that is its effect, to awaken the wise and stable part of your nature. From what we’ve seen on the Internet, the method we have developed is the world’s easiest meditation program. You don’t have to change your name, diet or religion. You don’t have to sit in lotus posture or do yoga. You don’t have to empty your mind of thoughts or chant a mantra. You just have to be willing to give yourself a few minutes of sitting with your eyes closed.
Don’t know how to meditate?
Listen to the first lesson from UYIG by clicking the link in the right column. It has the instructions. You can read it, as well, by clicking the PDF link. Or take a break with the free five-minute meditation. (You’ll need to give us your email address first.)
Ready to buy the world’s easiest meditation program? Click here for details.