Change is hard. Even when we know it will benefit us in the long run, no rx we still resist it with all we’ve got. Whether its cutting out fast food, patient learning a new skill, check hitting the employment sites to get a new job…the desire to bail is often greater than our desire to go for it.
And there are plenty of reasons for this. Mainly, your whole psyche is geared around keeping you safe. Survival is essential. Change means instability and our bodies and minds will fight that at all costs. Also succeeding at survival is more likely when we can react quickly and without hesitation…the opposite of what it takes to stick with and create a new behavior.
This is why we need to become aware of our thoughts, our physical sensations, even our breathing patterns, to override this resistance to change.
And, just five minutes a day of meditation can be your biggest weapon against your instinct to play it safe.
It sounds too good to be true, right? Don’t take my word for it. Google “scientific tests on five minute mediation” and see all the studies that pop up. Study after study has shown the benefits of meditation from getting over addiction to getting better grades.
“But I suck at meditation!” you say. Actually, the “worse” you are, the better for creating lasting change.
Meditation is nothing more than being still and paying attention. Focusing on ONE thing, be that music (the link to my fave meditation tracks are below), your breathing, a fixed place on the horizon… You can focus on a word or a color if you want. Just choose something to focus on and then, sit still.
Likely, you’ll be able to focus for about 15 seconds before your mind wanders. You are not failing at meditation! THAT’S NORMAL. THATS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN. But the next step is what makes meditation so beneficial. The moment you notice you’ve stopped paying attention to the music, etc, let go of whatever thought has pulled you away from your chosen focus. Just drop the thought that pulled you away, and come back to your breath, music, etc. This releasing and returning will happen repeatedly. And that is how you override your desire to stay safe. Notice the thoughts that grabbed your attention, and return to your focus..
When you practice this form of meditation, you are training your brain to react differently to urges and impulses. For example, if you’re a smoker, you may not notice that a commercial for beer or coffee trigger you to reach for a smoke. If you’re chronically late, you may not notice that you’re choosing to send just one more email before heading out for your appointment. If you are a procrastinator you may not notice that you actually feel more committed to goofing off than getting to work. (Which is usually the case with procrastinators…stay tuned for a separate newsletter about that topic)
By becoming aware of our thoughts while meditating, we can more easily notice our “unconscious” thoughts, habits, and behaviors in our daily activities. Armed with this information, we can begin to consciously change. So, for the smoker trying to quit, they may have to avoid watching TV at night for a few weeks. Tardy people trying to be more accountable may choose to put their smartphones in their backpack 15 minutes before they want to leave the house. Procrastinators might be able to acknowledge their desire to slack off but not be pulled into that desire. They will be able to make the conscious decision to get to work.
Change requires HUGE amounts of focus, attention, and willingness. Training your mind to be effective at noticing your thoughts, and then letting them go, is crucial to creating lasting change.
And it starts just with five minutes a day.
(And I coach people with this all the time so if you want extra help getting a meditation practice started…fire me an email and we’ll set up a session.)
And my personal fave meditation music: THALLEE link