It seems like every blog post in my news feed is about productivity hacking. “Try these top seven apps for peak efficiency.” “Eliminate these five things to save time.” “Do these ten things to remove distractions.” “Do this to make daily progress toward your goals.” “Cultivate these five, morning habits to create your best day ever.”
Many of those posts have interesting and actionable ideas. But the one thing that helps me get more done is meditation.
When I meditate in the morning, my mind is clearer. I eliminate a lot of mental noise, and that makes me much more productive.
Let me explain how this works. According to Harvard brain scientist, Dr. Srini Pillay, 90–95% of our thoughts take place on the subconscious level, and 80% of those thoughts are negative and recurring. Additionally, we have between 50,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day. (Full disclosure, I have seen lots of different research regarding this statistic. But any way you slice it, we have a crap load of thoughts each day.) So for our purposes, well you get the idea. We have a lot of constant, negative recurring thoughts.
When you meditate, the idea is to recognize that your mind has wandered off to those recurring worries about tomorrow or yesterday.
Maybe you are consumed with an upcoming test.
Perhaps you are constantly thinking about a future meeting.
Or you are worried about a conversation you need to have with a loved one.
Or you are concerned with next week’s sales pitch.
Or you are thinking about something your boss said to you yesterday, the day before or last week.
At times this recurring thought process can be paralyzing and cause acute anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.
I know first hand about how debilitating this can be. In 2003, I lost my job, while my wife was pregnant with our first child. I could not stop worrying about the future, and I was pissed off about getting laid off (the past).
My mind whirled around from negative thought to negative thought. “How am I going to pay the bills?” “How will I get another job?” “Why me?” I could not stop this thought process until I learned to meditate.
Through meditation, I learned to bring awareness to those subconscious, paralyzing feelings. When you bring awareness to those thoughts, then you can move through them. As long as they remain in the subconscious, they will continue to recur, create angst and sap the life out of you.
That awareness is what meditation is. It is the cultivation of a higher level of awareness, awareness of our thoughts, our feelings, our emotions, our breath, our surroundings, sensations in our bodies.
When we learn to cultivate that higher level of awareness of our thoughts, our feelings, our emotions, our breath, our surroundings and sensations in our bodies then we can take control of our lives, instead of having our negative, recurring thoughts control us.
I define anxiety and stress as worrying about tomorrow, ruminating about yesterday, wanting things to be different than they are, the inability to be present.
Through the skill and practice of meditation, we learn to be present. We realize that most of our thoughts are useless worries that never come to fruition. This is why Mindfulness is a proven method to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Mark Twain said it best, “Most of the worst things in my life have never actually happened to me.”
Through meditation, I learned to quiet my monkey mind, and take out the mental garbage. When I have a clear head, I am capable of thinking better and being more productive. I am more present. Everything starts to flow.
I feel like I am moving slower, but I get more done. And that feels great!
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I am a former Wall Street professional turned personal and corporate Mindfulness meditation coach. I teach smart, forward-thinking people and organizations how to harness the power of Mindfulness to manage stress, boost focus, regulate emotional responsiveness, enhance creativity and realize a host of other incredible benefits. I have worked with C-Suite executives, Fortune 500 companies, schools, and athletes. Contact me, [email protected].
Founder of www.TheDontPanicProject.com
Engaging conversations that educate, inspire and empower people suffering from anxiety and depression.
Originally published at medium.com