Tight sched­ule? Ways to make med­i­ta­tion work for you


Good Health Choices - - Content - BY TRUDIE MCCONNOCHIE

aving shaken off its hippy im­age, med­i­ta­tion is se­ri­ously hav­ing a mo­ment, and ev­ery­one from Katy Perry to Bill Clin­ton is on board. And for good rea­son. We could al­most fill an en­tire is­sue of this mag­a­zine with stud­ies con­firm­ing the ben­e­fits of med­i­ta­tion, from low­ered stress lev­els, im­proved con­cen­tra­tion, boosted im­mu­nity, re­duced pain lev­els, greater com­pas­sion and even di­min­ished lone­li­ness.

Yet de­spite know­ing the ‘why’, many of us strug­gle with the ‘how’, find­ing the prospect of med­i­ta­tion just too hard. To help you get past the bar­ri­ers – in­clud­ing lack of time and dif­fi­culty con­trol­ling a rac­ing mind – that are stop­ping you from start­ing, and main­tain­ing, a daily med­i­ta­tion prac­tice, we asked two med­i­ta­tion gu­rus for tips.


“If you don’t have time to med­i­tate for 20 min­utes, you should med­i­tate for an hour.” This is one of Syd­ney med­i­ta­tion teacher Tim Brown’s favourite say­ings, be­cause it sums up the catch-22 of med­i­ta­tion: those who feel they don’t have time for it are the ones who need it most. “What peo­ple don’t re­alise is the point of med­i­ta­tion is not the time spent med­i­tat­ing but the ben­e­fits that come from it af­ter­wards,” he says. “All the sci­ence is show­ing peo­ple come out of med­i­ta­tion with clar­ity, per­spec­tive, en­ergy and cre­ativ­ity. So they be­come more ef­fi­cient and pro­duc­tive as a re­sult.”

This means, in ef­fect, that the time spent med­i­tat­ing earns you more time back in pro­duc­tiv­ity gains. And med­i­ta­tion doesn’t need to take up much time, ei­ther. US news­reader and med­i­ta­tion au­thor Dan Har­ris says five to 10 min­utes is enough to boost your well­be­ing sig­nif­i­cantly.

And if you’re re­ally time-pressed, even one minute is ben­e­fi­cial, which is why he in­cluded 60-sec­ond guided med­i­ta­tions on his 10% Hap­pier mind­ful­ness app

(free on the App Store and Google Play).

“I an­chor two shows on ABC News [in the US], I have a start-up, a pod­cast, three more books com­ing, and I have a kid… if I can find the time to med­i­tate, any­one can,” Dan says.


Med­i­ta­tion has come a long way, but it’s still some­times re­garded as the do­main of New Age types sit­ting in pret­zel-like po­si­tions. This wasn’t far re­moved from Dan’s own per­cep­tion, un­til he suf­fered a panic at­tack live on air in 2004 that forced him to ad­dress his anx­i­ety and stress lev­els. But it was sci­ence, not spir­i­tu­al­ity, that led him from med­i­ta­tion scep­tic to one of its big­gest cheer­lead­ers. “The first thing [that con­vinced me] was see­ing the sci­ence; the sec­ond thing was re­al­is­ing the kind of med­i­ta­tion that has been stud­ied most in the labs doesn’t in­volve sit­ting in a funny po­si­tion, join­ing a group or believ­ing in any­thing.”

Tim, too, wants peo­ple to un­der­stand med­i­ta­tion is for ev­ery­day in­di­vid­u­als liv­ing ev­ery­day lives. “Med­i­ta­tion is very sim­ple, and you can do it any­where – in the car, on the train, in a bus,” says Tim, who has been teach­ing vedic med­i­ta­tion for 17 years

(tim­brown­med­i­ta­tion.com). That’s why I’ve got my cen­tre op­po­site a pub; I want to show peo­ple it’s not about head­ing for the hills.”


Dan has met lots of peo­ple who think med­i­ta­tion isn’t for them be­cause their minds are too busy. He says this is be­cause they mis­un­der­stand what med­i­ta­tion is. “Peo­ple think when they get dis­tracted, they have failed, but in fact the mo­ment you no­tice you’re dis­tracted is the vic­tory. Be­cause when you see that you’re think­ing about your to-do list, or you’re re­hears­ing some speech you’re go­ing to de­liver to your boss, that’s the mo­ment you wake up from this au­topi­lot in which we live most of our lives. You see there’s this voice in­side your head that yanks you around. The rea­son that’s valu­able is be­cause when the voice in your head of­fers a ter­ri­ble sug­ges­tion in the rest of your life when you’re not med­i­tat­ing, you may, some per­cent­age of the time, be able to see ‘that’s just a thought, I don’t have to do it’.”

There’s also a mis­con­cep­tion that med­i­ta­tion is about clear­ing the mind com­pletely, which sim­ply isn’t pos­si­ble. “Dur­ing med­i­ta­tion, when the mind moves away from the point of ref­er­ence – be it a mantra or breath or what­ever it hap­pens to be – it’s not the mind be­ing mis­chievous,” Tim adds. “It’s the mind set­tling and the body re­lax­ing, then as the stress, ten­sion and fa­tigue are laun­dered out of the sys­tem that ac­ti­vates the mind on the way out. All you can do is just smile and gen­tly come back to the point of ref­er­ence.”


Dan says many peo­ple tell him that med­i­tat­ing would erode their abil­ity to be ef­fec­tive or ag­gres­sive in the work­place.

“The mis­take peo­ple are mak­ing is they’re con­fus­ing hap­pi­ness with com­pla­cency and lazi­ness,” he says. “Hap­pi­ness doesn’t mean you don’t care about what you’re do­ing any­more. What med­i­ta­tion does is help you stay on task, be more pro­duc­tive and have bet­ter re­la­tion­ships, and it can help you be the calmest per­son in the room in a stress­ful meet­ing.”

He says lots of highly suc­cess­ful busi­ness­peo­ple med­i­tate with­out los­ing pro­fes­sional ground. “These aren’t slack­ers; they’re peo­ple who are med­i­tat­ing as a way to boost their edge and im­prove their re­la­tion­ships.”

Are mind­ful­ness and med­i­ta­tion dif­fer­ent? Essen­tially the two over­lap, but in mind­ful­ness you bring all your fo­cus to the present mo­ment or ac­tiv­ity, while med­i­ta­tion is a broader term that en­com­passes mind­ful­ness

‘Dur­ing med­i­ta­tion, when the mind moves away from the point of ref­er­ence, it’s the mind set­tling’

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