Learn How to Meditate Simply Without the Weird Stuff
Meditation is another one of those things that has turned into a buzzword over the past several years, and that has turned a lot of people off from it. What we want to do here is break down what it is and what it most certainly isn’t, and we also want to take away some of the mysticism and hokey mess that has been mistakenly associated with it.
Understand this first and foremost: Productivity increases when you meditate. It doesn’t have to be hard, and it doesn’t have to make you feel ridiculous, but the productivity gains are completely and totally undeniable.
With that having been said, you may need to forget everything that you think you know about it because most of what’s put out there today is hype. Instead, we’re going to focus on something simple, actionable and effective because that’s what I’ve found gives most people the best results most of the time.
The Basic Process: A 10 Minute Meditation
Before we get into how it actually works and how to think about it, we’re going to give you something actionable first. Follow these steps for a simple practice that will help you to get more done throughout your day:
- Go somewhere quiet where you will not be bothered, or put on headphones while listening to rain sounds from YouTube or some other similar type of white noise.
- Set a timer for ten minutes and sit comfortably. Start the timer when you’re ready.
- Close your eyes and take long, slow, deep breaths. Don’t make them so long or slow that it’s uncomfortable or makes it difficult to breathe.
- Focus as much as you can on your breathing. When you find yourself thinking about something else, which is going to happen no matter what, turn your focus back to your breathing.
- Repeat step 4 until the timer goes off.
There’s nothing mystical or complicated about this. If you do this once a day, you will see improvement on your productivity. It’s not a matter if if, but instead it’s a matter of how much.
How and Why This Works
If you’ve ever looked into mindfulness training of any kind, you’ll see meditation talked about in a variety of different ways. Chances are that they have made it incredibly complicated with different postures, special types of breathing, different things to focus on and all kinds of other points that don’t really make that much of a difference to the final product. As you can probably guess, none of that really has anything to do with the results.
There are two things this 10 minute meditation practice does for you. The first thing is that it gives you mind time to process backlogged information since it doesn’t have to take on any new inputs. It’s much like how you can go to sleep with a lot on your mind and wake up feeling mentally refreshed. A lot of it has to do with your unconscious mind processing a bunch of information and then being ready for new inputs. This meditation practice eliminates a lot of stress in the same way by literally taking a lot of that off of your mind by giving your unconscious a chance to process it all.
The second thing it does for you is that it gives you practice on bringing your focus back to something. When you find yourself thinking about something else, and you have to consciously and intentionally bring your focus back to your breathing, you’re practicing how to improve concentration by being able to direct it at the subject you want. This will make you less subject to distractions, and it will also increase the amount of time you’re able to focus on something without feeling mentally fatigued.
Meditation as a Part of Mindfulness Training
We looked at the benefits of mindfulness on this page, where I showed a simple way to give your conscious mind control over what you’re doing. It’s one of the two most effective things I’ve seen work for people over the years I’ve been doing this type of work, and introducing a short meditation like this one is the other.
What mindfulness is all about, from the standpoint of actually getting more done, is making sure that what you want to be doing and what you are doing are connected. You want to avoid the auto-pilot that comes along with letting your unconscious mind dictate what you’re doing when it’s not appropriate, and one of the biggest ways to make that work is to practice turning your focus to something in a safe, low-stress environment.
This is exactly what this type of simple meditation allows for when you return to your breathing, which is exactly why it’s so ridiculously effective for building a greater degree of control for your mind. It’s also the type of thing that’s great for employee engagement activities because it provides people with something legitimate that they can do to improve both their work and personal lives. In short, it’s a win-win situation, and it’s something very easy to learn while being very effective.
How to Improve Concentration With This Practice
The five-step process for this type of practice that we described up above is the basic foundation, and you can add some small things to that foundation to change the specific things you’re working on. As it’s listed above, it’ll focus more on improving mindfulness (defined as giving you more conscious control of your actions) and giving you a clear head by allowing your unconscious to process a backlog of information it’s holding onto.
However, if you want to work on building concentration instead, then you can add something very straightforward to it instead. Here’s what you do:
- Do everything in the above set of five steps in the same way to start.
- After taking a couple of breaths to get started, start counting your breaths when you inhale. Try to count to ten by counting each time you inhale during this practice.
- If you get to ten, then start over. If you lose count, start over. If you find your mind wandering off to something else, start over.
- The goal is not to be perfect and get to ten every time. The goal is to apply your focus to something that’s changing and that engages your working memory by having to keep up with where you are in the count. This builds concentration in a major way.
I strongly suggest that you do both of these types of practice both with and without the counting. You can alternate each day, or you can do one of each daily with one in the morning and one in the afternoon or evening.
Productivity Increases When Employee Engagement Activities Like This Are a Focus
For those who are in some type of manager position, it’s really important to include things like this in the culture you create for your employees. You will improve their happiness in general, which is good, but you’ll also get more out of them with less stress and aggravation on their part. That’s great for morale, and it also decreases turnover rate while helping out with a ton of other key metrics.