As Mark introduced in this article, we are going to make a concerted effort to share the tools, ideas and principles around wellbeing which we have discovered and are learning as part of our journey.
The following article shares my experience with meditation:
- What lead me to meditation
- My understanding of meditation
- How to get started and my experience with it
I would love to hear your experiences with meditation and wellbeing in general, if you would like to share them with me please feel free to contact me via email at Aidan.Briggs@DaintreeWM.com.
What lead me to meditation
At the end of last year, I felt mentally exhausted, as I can imagine many of you did.
As a result, the choices and actions I made weren’t the best available to me, there were many times either my fuse was shorter than usual, or I was in the mode of just getting things done and trying to get over the line.
Taking a step back over Christmas, I had the opportunity to reflect and realise what had occurred.
And while I aspire to be level-headed at all points making the best decisions and acting as a modern-day guru passing down wisdom and support the people around me, I am not.
Ultimately, life comes with its challenges and its highly likely I will be mentally exhausted again at some point.
Asking myself when has there been a time, I have been proud of my responses, reactions, and decisions, I realised one important thing as different from the time I was proud compared to the end of last year.
I was investing no time into being mindful, previously I would have time in each day either doing yoga, reading or simply thinking. This was not by design, but not having it in was by design. To my detriment.
Being mindful or mindfulness to me is best described by Sam Harris (we’ll get on to him later). Sam described mindfulness as simply having awareness of your attention or focus in a non-judgmental manner.
The practice of mindfulness would be meditation.
My understanding of meditation
Meditation can be practiced in many ways, both intentionally and unintentionally, for example:
- Walking in nature.
- Listening to instrumental music.
This comes from an understanding that there are two simple meditation techniques: Focusing Attention (FA) and Open Monitoring (OM).
FA would be the selecting and execution attention on chosen objects.
Imagine, for example, being in a room with a candle stick and being asked to focus solely on the flame and without distractions and given enough time your peripheral vision, awareness of sounds and feelings and thoughts will slowly diminish to the point of where you are only aware of the tip of the flame of a candle.
OM is monitoring the content of your experience in a nonreactive manner, moment to moment.
As you sit and read this, your awareness may be brought to the sounds around you, perhaps the sensation of your bum in your seat, the cold or the warm of the room you are sat in. Perhaps a negative thought, maybe this article is boring you, OM would be to simply accept the experience without judgment.
In the process of learning about meditation, I found the below video as a useful primer to distinguish the two simple techniques.
Okay, that is a quick primer of the major overarching themes in meditation.
We could go into detail about the different methods, but I will save that for another time.
So how do you get started?
I wanted something which did not require a vast amount of time each day, something which helped speed up the learning process, and something which had options for different experiences.
There are plenty of apps out there, for example:
I decided to go with Sam Harris’ Waking up, simply because I’m familiar with the works of Sam and have been a listener of his podcast, the making sense podcast, for a while.
His introductory course is 28 days long and requires more or less ten minutes each day as he guides you through a meditation.
Starting with the absolute fundamentals and slowly but surely making incremental gains through either a suggestion of specific action, a thought, or a different element of meditation e.g. he introduces the concepts of Focused Attention and Open Monitoring.
I’m aware he has a book to accompany his meditation app, Waking Up which has been ordered and I’m looking forward to reading in due course.
My experience with meditation
Overall, interesting and beneficial.
For the first couple of days
It was novel and exciting. Immediately following a session, you can get a sense of the impact.
This drove my engagement with meditation higher, I was reading around the subject and trying to understand it the best I possibly could, redoing lessons either in the middle of the day or at night.
I thought I was well on my way to becoming some sort of spirutual guru.
After about ten or so days
I hit a brick wall, and it felt as if I was no longer reaping the benefits.
I’m not entirely sure whether there are other factors that played a role in this, but the novelty had certainly worn off.
In the moment hitting the brick wall and losing the benefit felt worse than when I look back and reflect on what happened. As with many things.
However, I persisted, as I believe there are few things that have any form of pay off in less than six months (probably a lot longer) and especially ten days.
At the end of the 28 days
I have decided to maintain doing it at the start of each morning.
For the absolute bare minimum that there is a structure to my mornings now which there once was not.
Beyond the bare minimum, I have noticed I react to instances less, not dramatically so but I can catch myself in moments and better respond to them than I previously would have.
Thank you for investing your time reading my thoughts on meditation, hopefully it proves useful to you, over the course of the coming months we will be introducing new concepts, thoughts and ideas around wellbeing in an effort to support your journey.
AidanBack to blog