For many years, meditation has had a negative stigma and has been very misunderstood. When I first heard about meditation 10yrs ago, I thought “I can’t clear my mind, I can’t focus on my breath for longer than a minute, this is a waste of time, I’m bored” … the list goes on.
The semantics around the word “meditation” are hilarious, I had an experience at a mindset course back in 2017 where one of my friends HATED the idea of meditation. He had never looked into it and just thought you had to sit down with your legs cross, umming out loud and COMPLETELY CLEARING THE MIND.
So, the NLP instructor told everyone to get comfortable as he was going to take us through a “relaxation exercise” to put us into the learning state. We sat back in our chairs, closed our eyes, and took a couple of deep breaths in. We went through 3 or 4 various “breathing exercises” followed by a “visualisation exercise”. One of the guided breathing exercises was simply to breathe in for 10 seconds, hold for 10 and exhale for 10. This has been scientifically proven to physically relax you and release feelings of anger and fear. During the deep breathing, I realised I had control of my heart rate and got into a mild trance of following my breath and heart rate. He then asked us to visualise our future selves and what we want to accomplish… at this point, I was a senior consultant and wanted to be a business development manager. I visualised myself in our offices pitching jobs to the team, suited and booted, walking around like a successful BDM. He asked us to visualise the smells, noises, tastes, physical sensations and what we could see. This would become more and more vivid over the period of this exercise. Once we finished the exercise, he gently brought us out of the meditative state and asked the group how we felt. I was so relaxed, so ready to learn and VERY zoned into the present moment. My friend to my left who ‘HATED’ meditation said, “That was amazing, I think I am going to start doing that every day, I feel like I have so much energy, yet I am so relaxed?!”. The instructor said, “I thought you didn’t like meditation?” and my friend looked baffled and asked if that was meditation. He had realised he had pre-judged the idea of meditation without even really knowing what it actually was! From that moment onwards, he vowed to me that he would become a lot more open minded after the course.
(2months after the visualisation, I actually got promoted to Transatlantic Business Development Manager and ended up pitching jobs to a group of my colleagues in the same room I imagined during the meditation!)
Since that experience, I got fascinated by the power of deep breathing, visualisation, yoga, meditation and it’s effects on performance for sales and leadership. I started following a person called Wim Hof who has an incredible breathing exercise which allows you to get to a very deep state of relaxation and access parts of the brain we can not do consciously. You are able to withstand harsh weather conditions, release adrenaline at will, elevated energy and feelings of euphoria. It is honestly like getting high without taking anything and without any negative effects.
I got so into this technique, I have even done a 30day mediation challenge in February where I meditated 1-2 times a day from 20mins – 1hr minimum. I experimented with isolation tanks, cold showers/ice baths, various forms of yoga and was fortunate enough to have snowfall that month. So, as expected, I wandered around the garden in nothing but my swimming trunks, completely barefoot as the snow fell at a rapid pace and sat down to meditate for 10mins. I came back into the house and to be honest, I was blown away. I was in an elevated state of euphoria, happiness, gratitude and had tremendous amounts of CONTROLLED ENERGY. I realised that the weather is out of our control and we should make the most of what we are given in life instead of moaning and complaining about minor things and things we have no control over.
So how has meditation/breathing/visualising/relaxation helped me in my personal and professional life?
Firstly, my mental health has never been better. I have trained my mind to focus on the positives, learn and grow from the negatives and how I react to things. I used to sulk for an entire day when a candidate pulled out of an interview or a client told me they have filled the job after not calling me back for 2 weeks. Now I say GOOD. I learned I have the opportunity to take action elsewhere and then I check in with myself and my mindset/mental health and realise that this is only temporary, and this will make me better so long as I learn from it. My personal relationships have got better as I am more present in conversations, I am more empathetic, compassionate, kind, focussed and I radiate happiness. In my professional life, it is completely the same and I believe if you want to be a successful leader and sales person, you need to be KIND, COMPASSIONATE and FOCUSSED.
What is going to stop you from practising meditation?
One thing that stopped me was thinking it was a waste of 10mins, that I could be doing something else, I am not good at it etc. THIS IS A PRACTICE, NO ONE IS BORN GOOD AT MEDITATION, IT TAKES PRACTICE!! Remember, “Completely quieting the mind is just as unlikely as consciously stopping your own heart from beating. You can stop your heart, but you’ll probably die!”. (Please do not try to stop your heart)
When you get home, just before you go to sleep, I invite you to close your eyes, take a few deep breathes and just notice. That’s all, notice what your mind is doing, where it is going and when it is not serving you well, bring it back to the breath and repeat. The results will most likely not be LIFE CHANGING after 10mins, but with PRACTICE and CONSISTENCY, both myself and the science can assure you that you will have higher levels of energy, happiness, compassion and focus.