Released on May 3rd, 2020
“What type of meditation do you do?” I get asked this question regularly, and people are often surprised by my answer. “I don’t meditate.”
The next question is inevitably, “Why not?” In this Friday Shot of Clarity, we’re going to be exploring 5 reasons why you don’t need to meditate, as well as an alternative that’s incredibly fruitful, enjoyable and practical.
Reason #1 – Confusing the ACT of meditating with the STATE of meditation
One of the questions I often ask groups of business-people is “When do you get your best ideas?” Here are some of the most frequent answers they give:
- In the bath or shower
- Travelling to and from work
- Dropping off to sleep
- Walking in nature
- Looking out at the sea
- Listening to music
- Sitting in the park
People typically get their best ideas when they’re in a meditative state; a state of reflection, clarity and contemplation. In fact, the purpose of the ACT of meditating is to guide you into a STATE of meditation. If you enjoy the act of meditating, great; it can be a useful “technique” to help you enter a meditative state. But there’s something worth remembering: Your mind is a self-correcting system. States of clarity and meditation are natural for you when there’s nothing else in the way. And the only things that ever get in the way are superstitious thoughts arising from the outside-in misunderstanding; the mistaken belief that you’re feeling something other than your thinking in the moment.
The only purpose of the act of meditating is to guide you into a state of meditation. If it works for you, great. If it doesn’t, there’s an alternative. But first…
Reason #2 – Giving your power away
You were born with the capacity for a clear mind, free from excess thinking. Your mind is a self-clearing system, and the ability to enter appropriate and relevant states of meditation is your birthright, however… when you believe you need to do something to clear your mind (whether it’s meditate, go for a walk, wash your hands five times or smoke crack), you’ve innocently given your power away.
“But hang on a second”, I hear you ask. “Didn’t you just say that people get their best ideas when they go for a walk / have a bath / dance in the rain?”
Yes, I did. But those activities aren’t where the clarity comes from. Your mind is a self-correcting system. States of meditation are natural for us when we’re not being bamboozled by the outside-in misunderstanding. As you deepen your understanding of the inside-out nature of life, you’ll find yourself being guided into a state of meditation, more and more easily and frequently. Does this mean you’re going to be “Om-ing” in business meetings? No. The great thing is that you get a state of meditation that’s relevant and appropriate to the situation you’re in. The clarity that’s relevant and helpful in a business meeting isn’t the same kind of clarity that allows you to connect with your lover, listen to a client or enjoy a sunset. Clarity is context-sensitive.
And here’s the thing; it may occur to you to go for a walk / listen to music / sit quietly and focus on your breathing. If it does, great! Go for it. Enjoy it. But the walk / the music / the focusing isn’t what creates clarity. Clarity is your natural state; your default setting. It comes from deep within your consciousness, not from a walk, a ritual or a technique. In fact, the mistaken belief that a ritual, technique or other behaviour can give you clarity is behind the next reason…
Reason #3 – Getting stressed about meditating
One of the things that often characterizes the state of meditation is the sense of being present and in the moment, with a sense of peace, wellbeing and clarity. But all too often, the would-be meditator gets frustrated and stressed about their meditating. They beat themselves up, telling themselves they should be better at it / do it more often / be less distractible / be more disciplined etc.
The feelings of agitation are typically a signal that you’ve slipped into the outside-in misunderstanding. The feelings are telling you what’s in your thinking, not about your progress / abilities as a meditator. Once again; if you enjoy meditating, then have at it. But if it’s leading to stress, struggle and self-flagellation, then you might like to look in a different direction.
Reason #4 – The “I’ll be happy when…” trap
Many people get into meditation in order to quiet their minds and increase their sense of wellbeing. But in some cases, the act of meditating can become the object in an “I’ll be happy when…” trap. “I’ll be happy once I can meditate properly” is just the ego’s way of tricking you into believing there’s somewhere to get to and that there is better than here. Ironically, the belief that “I’ll be happy once I can meditate properly” is exactly the kind of trick of the mind that keeps us out of the present moment, away from a state of meditation.
The “I’ll be happy when…” trap always comes with a feeling of agitation and discomfort. That uncomfortable feeling is telling you that you’ve slipped into the outside-in illusion, but it doesn’t work that way. Your feeling isn’t telling you about your future as a meditator; it’s telling you about your thinking in this moment. If you feel inspired about meditating, great. Enjoy it! But if it’s turning into a toxic goal, then it’s time to try a different approach.
Reason #5 – Making it special and different
The state of meditation is an everyday phenomenon. You can enter into profound states of meditation in even the most mundane circumstances. The clarity, peace of mind and wellbeing that show up in the state of meditation are enjoyable, relevant and practical in numerous day-to-day situations. The more deeply you understand the inside-out nature of life, the more often you’ll find yourself entering into context-sensitive states of meditation at the times when you need them. Meditation doesn’t need to be special and different, with its own fenced off area. It’s powerful, practical and relevant to everyday situations, from listening in meetings, to problem-solving, to having a rest between tasks and countless others. The high-performance states enjoyed by athletes, musicians, inspirational speakers and other top-performers are an example of the state of meditation.
An alternative to meditating
The act of meditating is not to all tastes, but the state of meditation is profoundly valuable for everyone. If you’d like to have more access to the state of meditation without having to commit time to the practice of meditating, then I encourage you to deepen your understanding of the inside-out nature of life; the principles behind clarity and CLARITY.
As you deepen your understanding of these principles, you’ll find yourself guided into relevant and helpful states of meditation more and more frequently and easily. You can find out more about these principles by exploring the videos, articles, podcasts and courses at www.JamieSmart.com.
Jamie Smart, Sunday Times Bestselling Author, Speaker and Executive Coach