Unlock Your Potential with Meditation
The topic of meditation is coming up much more frequently. I myself have been an avid meditator for about 4 years for 5-10 minutes daily. So what’s the hype? What’s the point? Will it make me more fit? Or what is it going to do for me? And how do I get started?
WHY I STARTED MEDITATING…
DEPRESSION FT. SOCIAL ANXIETY & STRESS GALORE
I started my business 6 years ago and of course was very nervous about the pressure to succeed in the public spotlight.While my circle was still small at the time, I was nervous about starting something and it not working out. I was excited that people were asking me to train with them and offer advice. But they wanted to train with me. I wasn’t going to say no. So I added person after person to my daily schedule, and with each new person I added, a fear began to fester. “Am I really qualified to confidently train other people?”
Now, you’re probably thinking “But wait Braxton, if they are coming to you to train, staying with your program, getting results, and getting more people to come too, isn’t that all the proof you need?”
The answer is yes. But in case you’ve never struggled with self-doubt and anxiety let me educate you on how it works: MY FEARS DIDN’T CARE ABOUT LOGIC. THEY ONLY CARED ABOUT SELF-SABOTAGING MY LIFE. They succeeded for quite some time. I was the smiling face that was eager to help anyone, but inside my anxiety and stress was growing faster than my new business. It was crippling. Once I realized that I could no longer talk to clients about my services because my brain kept telling me that I was not good enough, I knew I needed to get help.
I DECIDED THIS THING WAS BIGGER THAN ME
So where did it change? I decided this thing was bigger than me. People were really happy training with me, they were really making great progress and loved the service I provided. I couldn’t just take that away from people because I was having panic attacks. I needed to push my anxieties aside so that I could be more successful with my training and business as a whole.
So I sat down on my couch. Crossed my legs like I was in a game of duck-duck-goose. Closed my eyes and sat in silence for 30 minutes. Immediately the same voice in my head starts telling me “What are you gonna do? Drown me out?” This was the same voice that told me I wasn’t good enough to help people. I wasn’t able to escape it, but I sat there until I almost fell asleep. My goal was to sit in silence, and have my brain be quiet too. I had lots to learn. I did exactly what I did when I was interested in training: I googled, youtube’d, and bought books on mindfulness.
MEDITATION LESSON #1: TELL MY BRAIN TO BE QUIET
I learned that meditation is more than just telling my brain to be quiet. It’s about paying attention to what is going on in the current moment and grounding yourself. The sunlight on my skin. The weight of my body in the chair. The way my body moved with my breath. The way my fingertips felt. The way my muscles felt underneath my skin. Etc. This is mindfulness. Being consciously aware of your surroundings brings peace and calmness to the soul. Being concerned with the present instead of replaying the past, or planning the future. This exercise brought me peace. So I started doing it daily. Like 5-10 min each day. Then I started to do some gratitude reflections with them. For a few minutes I would focus on presence, then I would get filled with joy by reflecting on the good things in my life right now. Focusing on these things, the negative and harsh voices in my head began to go away. With time I was getting better and better, and looking forward to my practice. After a while, the exercise would have lasting effects throughout the day.
THE BIGGER CHANGE
I’m always looking to get better and push myself. So I thought the next best thing would be to find stillness and quiet in the middle of loud and busy environments. So my daily meditation began taking place in public places. I would do meditation outside a coffee shop curb, or off to the side of a side-walk on the college campus in my hometown (University of South Alabama – Go Jags!).
I could hear every footstep, side conversation between people passing, and giggle. Behind my closed eye lids my mind filled with thoughts telling me that I looked dumb, or people were looking at me began to flood my mind. Why? Because the internal torture I was creating for myself with my horrible self talk. Alone in private, I didn’t have to worry about other people, but here, in the great big world, the voices kept telling me that people didn’t like me for being different. My body was acting as if I was to give a speech to 10,000 angry people. This was not good, I noted. New challenge.
So I sat. And took a deep breath. Once I stopped assuming people were talking about me, I started enjoying being a fly on the wall for passing conversations. I found I really enjoy feeling “like a plant,” absorbing sunlight and feeling the wind blow on me. People might be giggling at me, but they also might be giggling at their phone. People might think I look dumb. Or they might think I look cool. How am I supposed to know? I realized that most people probably didn’t even care about me. Even if they did laugh, they wouldn’t be able to remember my face tomorrow–so what does it matter? I looked forward to these daily meditations. If I wanted to feel pressure, hate, anxiety and fear, I could choose the critical thoughts that I knew well. If I wanted to feel peace, presence, calm, and love, I could choose to reflect on things I am grateful for! It was up to me to choose what channel to tune into.
The ultimate takeaway, I stopped caring so much what my brain said about me, others, situations, or anything. My brain became, and still is a quiet place of stillness. I am not afraid to fail, I am not afraid of what others think of me. My brain doesn’t work against me by creating new problems, but works for me to find solutions and helps me to view the world much more objectively. This can be helpful for anyone no matter what kind of project you are working on. What good can come from being stressed, anxious or self-doubting?
Even if you are skeptical, I encourage you to give it a try. Sit alone in a room, office, coffee shop, park, or wherever and listen to the things around you rather than your thoughts that race in your mind. There are some apps to help in this process as well as playlists of zen music to aid in focusing.