I have had a lot of follow-ups this month and people are doing amazing. They are dialing in their food. They are moving. They are sleeping more. Some have even started blocking blue light. Some have bought whole house water filters and started new right brain creative outlets. But when I ask about mindfulness and their meditation practice things get quiet…fast…crickets.
Mindfulness practice seems to be the easiest component to let slide when things get busy and the hardest habit to gain long term traction. We Americans are just not comfortable with taking and blocking off time to just BE. To be with our breath. To listen to the morning. To hear the drip into our Berkey water filter and be thankful. To feel the sun as it peaks through the early morning clouds and the breeze as it rises to meet the yellow rays. Meditation helps you become awake to these moments and other moments. It also helps you stay more a tune throughout the day and become less reactive.
My father introduced me to meditation when I was a freshmen in high school. I laughed at him for five years. I called his Zen Center the Zenery (like a nunnery). He laughed too but regardless I would always hear that door as it opened and shut in the early morning hours as he left for zazen practice.
The first time I sat with him I was 19 and I thought it was the stupidest hippie thing I had ever done. You mean I have to sit here and do nothing? But something brought me back. I think it was that I just wanted to spend more time with my father. I went probably an entire year sitting nearly everyday alone and with others, but I would just draw out biochemistry and physiology concepts in my head. Then in my early twenties I was ready and dove in. I started reading all the books and really sitting, it turned my world upside down. Then I stopped sitting because of life. This has happened twice because I was too busy. On the first occasion I became a raging weekend alcoholic and the second almost broke apart my marriage. I learned my lesson. I’m not scared anymore and I sit every day. It is the first thing I do. It’s that important.
Practicing meditation doesn’t mean you will become Eckhart Tolle or Deepak Chopra after one 13 min 32 second sit. It also doesn’t mean you have to. Practicing doesn’t mean you won’t get angry. It doesn’t mean you won’t get sad. Meditation won’t make you perfect or any better than Becky your annoying co-worker who is like soo busy. Mindfulness is like hydration. You won’t receive any medals for drinking water, but you also won’t die of heat stroke either and you have to get the job done.
Also, meditation and mindfulness practice are not woo woo. They are not second to nutrition, exercise, or sleep, further they feed all three of those. In the research, meditation helps clinically with insomnia, high blood pressure, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, and lowering inflammation.
“Mental silence-orientated meditation is a safe and effective strategy for dealing with work stress and depressive feelings.”
Manocha et al.
“Mindfulness-based intervention demonstrated preliminary short-term efficacy in reducing stress, behavioral symptoms, and proinflammatory signaling in younger breast cancer survivors.”
Bower et al.
“Mindfulness-based stress reduction appears to be a promising modality for stress management.”
Sharma et al.
“This study provides initial evidence for the efficacy of mindfulness-based stress reduction as a viable treatment for chronic insomnia.”
Gross et al.
“Meditation decreased blood pressure in association with decreased psychological distress, and increased coping in young adults at risk for hypertension. This mind-body program may reduce the risk for future development of hypertension in young adults.”
Nidich et al.
Before this email maybe you thought I was kidding about the importance of meditation. Now you know. We live on a knife edge of being awake or falling asleep, without some form of mindfulness practice we fall into the abyss and we can get lost in it. Meditation pulls us back and is the glue that keeps it all together even when everything falls apart.
It’s life or death.
“Life is like stepping onto a boat which is about to sail out to sea and sink.”
You are the captain of your ship. Where are you going? How are you sailing? How many days do you have left in the sun? Can you manage the storm? Sinking, can you find your way home?