Too Busy to Meditate? What If It Could Actually Save You Time?
As legal professionals we spend a lot of time in our heads, and meditation is an easy way to make that time more efficient , not just by relieving stress when it happens, but by being mentally ready for it before it happens. What if I were to tell you that the time you spend meditating will *save* you time? New York-based Broadway professional-turned-meditation teacher Emily Fletcher knows all about getting the job of one’s dreams then being overwhelmed by stress. Read what Emily has to say and see how some basic meditation techniques can help you do less and accomplish more. Read on and find out how.
By Emily Fletcher, with Mike Murphy
You’re busy. You already have too much to do. The emails are piling up faster each day, each one moving you farther away from your real work. You have an ever-increasing number of blogs, news pages and social sites to check in order to stay current, not to mention getting your sedentary arse to the gym to stay somewhat healthy. Oh yeah, then there is eating, sleeping and that mystical “personal life” that people speak of, that maybe you had back in college?
Now you keep hearing that meditation is the key, meditation will bring it all together. Suddenly you will have more energy, more relaxation and even get more done. You hear about all these ‘outrageously successful’ people who do it everyday. So you give it a try.
You sit in a chair, close your eyes and start to breathe. That is what you’re supposed to do, right? Maybe you last two or three minutes if you are lucky. And then the internal dialogue starts:
“I’m not sure if this is working. Maybe I should sit differently? What is that thing people do with their hands? Does that turn off your brain somehow? What about chanting? It looks crazy but if it will stop this raging critical mind then I will give it a go. But what do I chant? Om? I feel like a ding-dong. I don’t think meditation works for me. My mind is too busy. My life is too busy.”
Then you get fidgety. Thoughts flood in and you start to feel plain lazy. You decide to quit, get up and jump back to your usual program of thinking, taking action, achieving and making money so you can be happy in the future. The “right now” can wait. You get back on the rat wheel of waking, sleeping and working, in the hopes that if you pile up enough money then one day in the future you will be able to enjoy it.
But that day never comes. You never have enough money. The work will never be done (not even when you retire). Happiness really is an inside job. There will always be more work to do, so instead of waiting until you finish your work to relax, what if you relax while you are working? What if taking the time to relax your mind could actually make you more productive? Meditation can do that. This is why meditation is not a waste of time.
You have to do less to accomplish more.
Think about it. How well do you perform when you are seriously stressed? There is a reason people can’t find their keys when they are in a rush. There is a reason why your friends who are stressed all the time seem to get sick more often. When the body is stressed, it starts preparing for predatory attacks. This fight/ flight stress reaction used to be a natural relevant response to predatory demands. Thing is, today our demands are no longer predatory attacks. Now our demands are text messages, emails, court dates, in laws and traffic. No matter how scary your boss is, none of these demands truly call for a fight/ flight stress reaction. As a matter of fact this reaction is now dis-allowing you from performing at the top of your game.
A recent article titled, “Relax, You’ll Be More Productive” in the NY Times wrote:
“Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less. By managing energy more skillfully, it’s possible to get more done, in less time, more sustainably. Our secret is simple — and generally applicable. When we’re renewing, we’re truly renewing, so when we’re working, we can really work[A1].”
Imagine taking a pause from the constant input of information to give your brain a maintenance operation. You know what happens after you restart your computer? Everything is better organized. The irrelevant functions get closed, and you have more computing power for the task at hand.
Meditation does this for our brain; it closes the irrelevant windows, or pre cognitive commitments (PCC’s) that have lingered open from previous fight/flight stress reactions.
By the time we are 20 years old we have millions of PCC’s in the brain. Each of them stored from a traumatic event in the past trying to protect you from a potentially traumatic event in the future. All of which are disallowing you from accessing your full computing power in the right now. Meditation allows us to give the brain and body very deep rest so that when we work we can really work.
If meditation is so great then why doesn’t everybody do it? That’s because the type of meditation matters. In the same way that all food does not do the same thing to your body, all meditations do not do the same thing for your brain. Most styles of meditation that we are familiar with in the West are derivative of what monks practice. That is why they seem inaccessible; they are fine, but were not designed for people with jobs, families and who have to sit in traffic. There is a different style of meditation for people like us; I like to call it, “The lazy man’s meditation”. In this kind of meditation, you don’t have to do an hour of yoga to get ready, you don’t have to chant or sit in uncomfortable positions or even stop your mind. You are given a mantra and the mantra does most of the work for you.
Meditation closes the distracting windows in your brain, bit-by-bit, meditation by meditation, and day-by-day. You didn’t get this scattered all of the sudden, and you won’t get less scattered in a day. But, if you keep at it, meditation gives you a way to take your right brain to the gym. Giving you greater access to your creative problem solving capabilities, and greater productivity. But just like a great workout, it helps to have some guidance. It is simple, but requires more than just sitting in a chair. It is best to learn face to face from a teacher, but some meditation is better than no meditation so here is an exercise to get you started.
Here’s a Tip: Thoughts are not the enemy. No one can give their mind a command to stop thinking. Don’t worry about thinking.
1. Sit with your back supported, head free, timepiece near you.
2. Turn the phone on silent (or off, if you are truly brave)
3. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and congratulate yourself on taking a moment for you.
4. After about 30 seconds, silently think the word “one”. Very gently in your mind.
5. Anytime you have thoughts (you will definitely have thoughts) simply come back to the word ‘one’
6. Check the time as often as you like. After about 5 min has passed, let go of the word and keep the eyes closed for one min. This last 1 min ‘cool down’ can be the toughest part because you don’t have the mind vehicle anymore. I like to use it as a time for gratitude. Taking one min to give thanks for everything you can think of trains the brain to look for what is right instead of constantly searching for problems to solve.
About the Author
Emily Fletcher began her extensive training in meditation in Rishikesh, India under world-renowned meditation instructors. Emily was inspired to become a meditation instructor after experiencing the profound physical and mental benefits it provided her during her 10-year career on Broadway, which included roles in Chicago, The Producers, A Chorus Line and many others.
With her high performance background and seven years of meditation experience, Emily is perfectly suited to teach busy people how to incorporate this simple and hugely effective practice into their lives.
She was recently invited to speak at GATE, the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment with Jim Carrey and Eckhart Tolle and will be appearing on The Ricki Lake show soon. She has taught meditation to a wide range of people and companies including Coca Cola, Ogilvy & Mather, Satya Jewelry, The Executive Source and in public school systems in the Bronx.