3 Ways Meditation Has Helped Me
By Brody Hannan
It wasn’t that long ago that I thought meditation was “for hippies”. All the people I knew who meditated regularly were the kind of people who’d do bikram yoga three times a week and would live amongst rainforests and waterfalls if they could. Not that there’s anything wrong with those people – I just didn’t think it was me.
Meditation suffers from a branding problem. The people who would benefit the most from it often don’t think it is for them.
It wasn’t that long ago that I lived every day in such a huge rush. There was no order to my day, I would just be manically tackling one task to the next. I’d be pulling late nights to get my work done, would wake up tired and in a total craze to get to try and find something to do that day – if I hadn’t already missed my first class or the first hour of work.
But as I began to read books and blogs on leadership, time management, relationships and productivity, I realised that there was a lot I could gain from meditating even at least 10 minutes a day.
That was 4 months ago – I recently just completed my 100th consecutive day of meditation – a total of 35 hours of time spent mediating. That’s almost a full working week!
So here I am, a fit, 21 year old bloke, who enjoys his beers, sport – and serves in the Army – on the 3 ways meditation has helped me.
1. Managing Stress
I’m currently on exchange in the UK – and in February I was flying back into London from a weekend in Ireland. It was 9pm, and I had work the next day – I really wanted to get home.
But when the airport was covered with snow, I soon realised that the only train from the airport to central London was cancelled due to the poor weather.
The entire train station soon became packed with angry passengers, sighing repetitively, swearing constantly, and pacing up and down the platform continuously waiting to see if there were any developments on the train. There weren’t.
But amongst this all, I remember just standing in the corner, closing my eyes, taking a few deep breathes, and trying to be aware of my surroundings. It was a meditation technique that I’d learnt very early on in my meditation journey, and it helped a lot.
Calmly, I looked around, found a taxi rank – and realised that if I split the fare for a maxi cab with 6 other people, that the journey would be cheaper than the train.
While everyone was stressed and panicked, meditation helped me remain calm and think of a solution forward.
2. Facing Fears
In March this year I ran the Utrecht Marathon. Utrecht is a 30 min train ride south of Amsterdam – and isn’t exactly known for its warm weather. On the day of the marathon is was 0 degrees Celsius, 32 kph winds, and snowing.
I had never run with more than 2 layers of clothing on before – let alone a beanie and gloves. I was in this country, surrounded by people murmuring in a foreign language, it was my first marathon in more 6 months…. and I was scared.
Placed in these crowded holding pens with thousands of other people, I could feel myself getting anxious.
But I took a few deep breaths, closed my eyes, and tried to visualise myself running the race. I tried to picture myself running in the warm Summers of Canberra – and taking long strides to the finish line.
I was so busy meditating that I missed the start of the race! I only realised what was going on as all these people began to push past me to make their way over the starting line. Suffice to say – I ended up finishing the race with a new PB!
3. Enhancing Productivity
As I mentioned before, I struggled for a long time with tackling my day in a productive mindset. I’d always be in a rush, but would somehow be perpetually late, and would never be getting things done on time. I was working hard, but not smart.
As well as getting a good night’s sleep, and waking up early – meditation is now a part of my morning routine. After I’ve gotten out of the shower, and before I’ve brushed my teeth, I’ll meditate for 10-15 min. This brief sense of quietness before commencing each day gives me the clarity and sense of awareness I need to tackle my most important tasks for the day efficiently, calmly and happily.
You don’t have to be “a hippie” to meditate. Anyone who’s wanting to develop their leadership, time and management and self awareness will find it incredibly beneficial.
If this article has helped you, and you think you might want to take up meditation – a great place to start is the app ‘Headspace’. They provide a free trial, as well as meditation courses specifically designed to help you improve your work/life balance, sport training, focus for study, sleeping patterns, and so much more! I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to try meditation for the first time.