We live in a frantic world – with the invention of the smartphone, the MP3 player, wirelessly networked offices, restaurants, cars and homes, we are in constant connection with the world ‘out there’. It is a world of distraction, and we engage with it in order to feel better. In essence, we maintain this constant connection in order to be happy. We do it because we believe it brings us more control or helps us make more money or keeps us up to date, or maybe we do it because we’re bored. Whatever the surface reason, our real motivation is to be happier and more fulfilled. In short, we do it to find peace.
The irony is that peace is something you can access right now, but you have to start looking in the right place. No level of achievement or connection ‘out there’ will help you find it. In fact, the greater your focus on ‘out there’ the further you are likely to be from finding lasting peace and happiness. It’s doing things backwards, and it just doesn’t work.
I’m not saying you don’t need to engage with the outside world – of course you do. It’s how you engage that matters. Are you coming from a place of tension, worry, and insecurity? Tapping away on your phone might help you forget this for a little while, but it will still be there when you’ve finished.
If you can take the time to breath, to turn off the outside world and sit quietly with yourself, you will be more likely to find a place of power, confidence, and peace. No prizes for guessing which place will bring you the best actions and results.
Meditation and Success
In my last post, I promised you a few interesting stories on the power of meditation.
- Mozart was a prolific meditator. He developed a skill of meditating while walking the streets of Vienna late at night and, as he did, music ‘came to him’. Many of his compositions began this way.
- Einstein was able to think of things no one had even imagined, and his secret was meditation. ‘Through meditation I found answers before I even asked the question.’
- Hugh Jackman suffered from OCD for many years. When he was driving and going past a telegraph pole, he had to lift his right foot off the accelerator, as though he was stepping over a line. If he tapped something, he would then have to tap it 5 times. When he was still living in Perth, he started to meditate. He credits meditation with changing his life (for the better) and being the wellspring of much of his creativity.
- Oprah Winfrey recently learned to meditate as part of an episode for her new network . It started off with 7 people, then 70, then 270 and then the whole company. No matter what, everyday at 9am and 4.30pm, everyone in her company downs tools and meditates. She says, ’…you can’t imagine what has happened in the company. People who used to have migraines, don’t. People are sleeping better. People have better relationships. People interact with other people better. It’s been fantastic. So the one thing I want to continue to do is to centre myself everyday, and make that a practice for myself because I am 1000% better when I do that, 1000% better when I take myself back to something bigger than myself.’
The next step
Here is a simple technique to relax you body. It is similar to the yoga practice, ‘Shavasana’.
- Lie flat on your back with a small pillow behind your head. Rest your arms in line with your body, palms open and facing up. Legs should be straight and slightly apart.
- Close your eyes. Feel the different parts of your body in contact with the floor. Move from each point of contact, letting that part of your body relax and sink into the floor. Feel your shoulders slump back into the pillow.
- Now drop your lower jaw. Let it sag (keeping your mouth closed).
- Release any frown or other expression from your face.
- Release any thoughts that arise. Don’t suppress them, just give yourself permission to think about them later and then let them go.
- Stay there as long as you can. Don’t go to sleep, remain conscious of your body.
This technique works best if your attention is completely focused on the practice. Keep your body still – any movement causes your muscles to contract, and this is what you want to avoid. Also, it is best to do the practice on the floor, because if you lie on something softer you won’t be able to tell if your muscles are relaxing.
Next week we’ll look at more muscle relaxation techniques, and talk a bit about quietening the mind.