Let Yourself Go: Harnessing the Power of Meditation

Each morning, before I start my day, before I even look at my planner or eat my breakfast, I meditate. I sit down in a quiet room and stretch my body. Then I regulate my breathing as I take it through a series of breathing exercises. These help to ground and prepare me for my day. Finally, I perform one final meditation exercise to organize my mind for the day ahead. This is similar to hypnosis. Whereas the usual definition of meditation is to empty one's mind, I use this one to vent the mind. Venting basically means getting rid of extraneous information, while also organizing the information I do need for the day ahead.

This article explores how I meditate and how it can help you focus and prepare yourself for your day. Think of it as another tool you can use to help organize yourself and get ready for your day.

So, how does it work? The final meditation exercise is easy to do. Touch your tongue to the roof of your month. Inhale and exhale breath from your nose. When you breathe, make sure you breathe from your diaphragm, unless you have a condition like Asthma. If you have asthma, just try and breathe as deeply as you comfortably can. Concentrate initially on just feeling the breath go in and out of your body. If your mind starts to wander, let it wander. That’s natural and can be quite useful, because it allows you to start venting thoughts from your consciousness that would otherwise distract you. As you continue to meditate, you might notice yourself entering into an altered state of consciousness. This is also natural and is useful because it allows your mental batteries to recharge, while continuing to vent random thoughts.

As you continue to meditate, think about what you want to accomplish that day. Let random thoughts come to the surface. If you find yourself thinking about doubts or distractions, allow them to surface. This is good, because you can use meditation to clear you mind of those doubts. However, you can also use meditation to create a positive state of mind that can help you face your daily challenges.

When you’re meditating, think of the last time you felt confident about a situation. Recall in as much detail as possible how you felt, what you heard, and what you saw. As you remember that state of mind, visualize it becoming part of your present self, so that when you finish meditating you feel that state of confidence

You can do this meditation exercise sitting, or lying down. Sitting is easier for people who are just beginning to meditate, because it cuts down on the chances of falling asleep while meditating. When sitting, make sure your feet are planted on the floor and your back is straight. I usually fold my hands together while meditating. If you lie down, lie on your back, with your arms and legs straight. Feel free to try this meditation during any time of the day. It can be done anywhere, even at work, as long as you're able to get five minutes of uninterrupted time.

If you’re in a cube, put an unavailable sign up, or close the door if you have an office, with a do not disturb sign. At home, close the door to your home office, or temporarily claim a space and make sure the other people give you alone time. I usually meditate twice a day, once at the beginning of the day, and once at the end of the work day, so that I can reground and reclaim myself from work.

This is where the power of meditation comes in and can help you be successful each and every day. Just a few minutes of meditation every day before filling out your plan, can help you achieve your goals. Visualize what your day will be like, what tasks you will get done, when they will get done, and even how they get done. Then open your eyes and start writing in your planner. Writing in your planner will help you further organize your thoughts and plan your day out, letting you capture the feelings and thoughts you had while meditating and putting them into a coherent linear order for you to follow. Don’t be surprised if you find your day occurs exactly or nearly how you visualized it occurring in your meditation. You’ve already organized your mind to expect the day to occur that way.

As I mentioned above, I meditation before I fill in my planner for the day. While I'm in a meditative state, I mentally organize my day before I even start to write it out. By the time I start writing in my planner, I already know how I want my day to go, how much time I want to put toward a given task, and what my priority list is for the day. I’ve organized myself internally so that the external organizing I do in my planner takes only a few moments, with the agenda for the day already clear in my mind. And this is how five minutes of meditation a day makes for a helpful tool to let you achieve your goals.

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"The best way to predict the future ..." Peter Drucker

This topic reminds me of a Peter Drucker quotation I've been meaning to add to the Quotations and Aphorisms thread:

"The best way to predict the future is to plan it."
Peter Drucker

To the extent that deep breathing, relaxation, day dreaming, zoning out, visualization/imagination, meditation, self-hypnosis, etc. are useful tools for setting and reaching goals then you could substitute some of the words in this relaxation continuum for the word "plan" in this quotation. Your member ID "imagineyourreality" alludes to this concept. It's a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy for setting and reaching goals at a quasi conscious level.

Unfortunately it takes more work for some people than others. It's kind of ironic that relaxation can take that much effort ... in the form of "practice, practice, practice". Part of the problem for me is that I'm more of a verbal / analytical type than a "visual" type. For those like me "visualization" is probably a misnomer and the concept of "feeling" or "sensing" may be more useful.

Many years ago I toyed around with deep breathing and relaxation but I never really went anywhere with, probably because I was expecting to literally see something playing out in front of my eyes.

However, when I was pregnant with my second daughter I heard about self-hypnosis and child birth. I bought a self study program which uses the principles of "compounding" to teach the skills of what I call the "relaxation continuum".

Hypnosis and Child Birth may seem waaaaaay off topic here. However, the program also comes with a sample "Birth Plan" (actually they call it a set of "Birth Preferences" so as not to unnecessarily antagonize the medical professionals). I had heard of Birth Plans before but the whole concept struck me as earthy crunchy wishful thinking. After all, if any "plan" is likely to go off course it's probably a Birth Plan. But when I finally drafted mine --which included the primary goal of not using any pain medication and being relatively comfortable-- it struck me that one sure way to miss a goal is to not set it in the first place.

So I spent a couple of months learning and practicing deep breathing, relaxing more and more deeply, and trying to develop "mental anaesthesia".

I'm happy to say that I was pretty successful. I didn't need any painkillers and I was relatively comfortable, but obviously not pain free. Meeting these two goals would not have been possible if I had not at least "set an intention", as the expression goes.

I would encourage anyone to try deep breathing, relaxation, day dreaming, zoning out, visualization/imagination, etc. I've heard that even a couple of minutes can be beneficial so I try to "zone out", with a modest goal in mind, a couple of times a day. I'm guessing that, as you suggest, doing it regularly before sitting down with your planner could be very useful.

~Cath

Great post!

I loved your post. I'm looking to get into action on a morning ritual.

I'm curious what your thoughts are on integrating things like Bible, Koran, or just really great books into the whole process.

My Goal is a powerful spi-'ritual' including day planner/'scriptures'/meditation&prayer

Here's another article on meditation as an aid to productivity..

Not sure if this will work, but here goes.

www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1147167,00.html

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"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." Albert Einstein and Buckaroo Banzai

Time constraints, tough to find 40 minutes a day for anything

Wikeh2004,
Great article from Time magazine. I was particularly struck by these comments:

“One recent study found evidence that the daily practice of meditation (for 40 minutes) thickened the parts of the brain's cerebral cortex responsible for decision making, attention and memory.”

The forms of meditation Lazar and other scientists are studying involve focusing on an image or sound or on one's breathing. Though deceptively simple, the practice seems to exercise the parts of the brain that help us pay attention.

Another benefit for employers: meditation seems to help regulate emotions, which in turn helps people get along. "One of the most important domains meditation acts upon is emotional intelligence—a set of skills far more consequential for life success than cognitive intelligence,"

The problem is that although the cerebral cortex measurements for people meditating for just 40 minutes a day compares favorably to Tibetan monks who spend inordinant amounts of time meditating, the average person just don't have that kind of time. Which is too bad because, as the article points out, this could have implications for staying sharp as you get older since this part of the brain thins with age.

However, perhaps this article will motivate me to try and carve out some time for meditating. I think there are benefits even with short bursts of meditation but it makes sense that longer stretches would be better, certainly for building concentration.

I have the same problem trying to find the time to excercise. I do wonder if it's possible to meditate while doing something repetitive and mindless like using a stationary bicycle.

~Cath