I know. It seems weird to find a post about meditation on a marketing blog, right? Well, hear me out anyway. If you are a marketer, you are in a high-stress business. If you’re a business owner, or really if you are just plain alive these days, your life is likely full of stressful situations. If not, well, I don’t really want to hear about that! I think there is a feeling that meditating is sort of new agey mumbo jumbo, and for that reason a lot of people who can really benefit from the practice shrug it off. I know this is true, because for many years I did just that.
Am I Done Yet?
The first time I ever tried to meditate, I was inspired by a book that suggested everyone should try to meditate, beginning with a very short session and then elongating over time. I think you were supposed to set an alarm for a minute or two, and during that time you were to just close your eyes and try to clear your mind. I figured I would give it a shot. I set my alarm, closed my eyes, and after what seemed like a really long time, I opened my eyes and looked at the clock. About 15 seconds had passed. Not only had I broken the “clear your mind” thing, but I also had only maintained my concentration for 15 seconds. Now I was frustrated with myself. I tried one more time. I really really felt like I had kept my eyes closed for a long time, and even though my alarm was not going off, I took a glance at my clock again. That’s right. Another 15 seconds had passed. I lost my patience and determined that meditation was simply not for me. Checking every few seconds to see how much time I had spent doing a good job of concentrating was not really feeling like it was useful.
Maybe you have had an experience like this, too. Maybe you think this is exactly how your attempt would go. Either way, I highly recommend that you not give up.
The Blue Sky
About a year ago, I decided to try meditation again, but this time I wanted to try some guided meditation instead of just trying to sit in silence. I got a bunch of suggestions and settled on a site called Headspace (it’s also available as an app, by the way). A couple of days ago, I marked six months of meditating for 10 minutes every single day. Given that, let me tell you how meditating has benefitted me, and maybe that will inspire you to give it a try.
• Reasonable Expectations: It’s important when you start to meditate to not have pie in the sky expectations. When I first started meditating, I thought that it was going to be the silver bullet to removing stress from my life, like I would become immune to stressful feelings. If you go into the experience expecting that result, you will lose heart. I really like Headspace because your expectations are always kept in line, with every session.
• Not letting negativity consume you: Meditation will not remove stress, or the feelings after a bad day, or the irritation you might have with a person or situation. The reason that it’s so important, in my opinion, for people to meditate is that it can help remind you that while you will have those feelings, they don’t have to be all-encompassing. The person who runs Headspace talks about this as the blue sky concept. You might have a dark and cloudy day, but there is always blue sky just beyond that, and you can always get back there.
• Change your thinking about thinking: The biggest benefit I have experienced from meditation is that it has altered how I think about thinking. When I find myself getting stressed out or frustrated, I now can stop myself (sometimes) before those feelings start to add up throughout the day. I am better able now to catch myself before my frustration level goes too high. Not always, but even if I don’t catch myself, I know what I could have done to improve my reactions.
• Understand what’s about you and what isn’t: Finally, in any situation where you are around people, it’s important to understand what you have control over and what you can’t control. We marketers, for example, deal with feedback from clients every day. If you get great feedback, how much of that is about you? If you get negative feedback or a terse response, how much of that is about you? Understanding how much we internalize things can also help make us stop internalizing things we should not.
Yes, meditation may seem hippy dippy to you, but I can tell you that I now look forward to those ten minutes a day when, if nothing else, I can sit back and see how crazily my brain is flying. Sometimes that’s the only way to get it to slow down a little. We all owe at least ten minutes to ourselves, if not more, and working on clearing the mind is a great way to spend that time.
Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tarcio/438253839/ via Creative Commons