At first blush this seems to be exactly the opposite advice I have given before. And to go against my investing rule to only invest in companies with CEO’s who meditate. Yesterday I watched Ryan Holiday talk about his book Stillness is the Key at Google. He gave his 10 tips to add Stillness to your life “and I am not going to tell you to meditate because you probably won’t anyway.” Yesterday I also listened to something from Sam Harris in his Waking Up app where he pointed out the purpose of meditation is not to become a “meditator”, but to become better at life.
As I roll back through my own meditation journey, I started out of a feeling of guilt and shame. I had tried to “meditate” to be “a meditator” and had “failed”. I couldn’t find a rhythm, it didn’t flow, I was a failure. So my first forays back into learning to meditate were to “win at meditation”. To right the wrong, the failure. That certainly was enough motivation. And as my practice evolved I started to realize the change in my everyday awareness and ability to pause in difficult situations and consider the right action. That pause is likely a result of the practice of meditation, a benefit from the practice which caused everything in my life to change. More resilience, more calm, more pause, less emotional reactivity. The real upside is all that stuff not the time “meditating”.
One of Ryan Holiday’s 10 suggestions is “practice presence”. That is basically meditation. Anytime you are awake to the present moment, you are meditating. There are many ways to be awake to the present moment, having a meditation practice like a mantra based, or breath focused practice, is one. So is gardening, fixing a fence, mowing the lawn, fixing a motorcycle, riding a motorcycle. Anytime you must focus on something right in front of you and let the rest go, you are meditating.
So Remember Martin: Don’t be a meditator. Be present. Practice the pause between stimulus and response.