Meditation is rapidly growing in popularity.
It’s never been more popular according to Google trends.
January 2019 was tied for the most searches all time for “meditation”.
What is Meditation
According to Wikipedia:
Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.
Meditation can be whatever you want.
I like to lay down in bed in the dark and listen to a guided meditation.
I do this with a diffuser on, so the room smells good. This helps me feel more relaxed. I can also take deeper breaths on my back than I can sitting down.
Meditation could be walking outside with no electronics for 20 minutes to let your mind wander. It could be relaxing in hot springs. It could be listening to a guided meditation at your desk for 5 minutes.
Why Meditation is Important for Men
Men are logical beings. Meditation allows you to be make better decisions in all of your daily choices. It helps you see what your mind thinks about when it’s given free time.
Men are hard workers. Meditation is a great way to start the day on the right note. Or even better, an easy way to deeply relax at the end (hint: it’s better than watching TV).
Men Who Meditate
The benefits at the beginning should be enough to get you to start!
But if you need a bit more, here are some successful men who meditate.
LeBron revealed he often utilizes an app called Calm to help him drift off into dream land. The app, which was named Apple’s iPhone app of the year for 2017, offers a variety of features design to help with meditation and sleep.
Steve Jobs was a pioneer in what was once a rather esoteric “mind technology”–the use of Zen mindfulness meditation to reduce his stress, gain more clarity, and enhance his creativity.
Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, titans of the NBA, all have something in common that goes beyond their stellar basketball skills and multiple championship rings.They all credit the same man for helping their game — sports psychologist and mindful meditation teacher George Mumford.
Billionaire Ray Dalio, the founder of $160 billion hedge-fund behemoth Bridgewater Associates, says that Transcendental Meditation has been “the single biggest influence” on his life.
Dalio, 66, is considered the most successful hedge fund manager of all time. He’s been practicing Transcendental Mediation for more than 40 years.
“Meditation is extremely important. If you neglect that part of your life, you are really giving up the thing that is perhaps the most important thing there is in the world,” he argues.
Derek opened up about meditation in October 2012, when as part of an interview he stated that one hour morning meditations were a regular part of his off-day routine.
The Benefits of Meditation
A Quick Story
Before I get into the benefits, I’ll share a bit of my story with meditation.
For years, I had always felt kind of stressed day-today.
I had terrible social anxiety during normal acts such as checking out at the grocery store.
This is because I was never, ever present to the moment.
I was constantly worried about some past or future event. That left me no time to think about what was in front of me.
Meditating has helped me eliminate a lot of these feelings.
On top of what happened to me, there are many other benefits of meditating. Let’s take a look!
Meditation helps you feel relaxed in the moment, but what about long term?
One study found that meditation helped reduce overall stress after just 2 weeks.
The crazier part?
The study found it to be more effective for people with higher than normal levels of stress.
Meditation improves focus
A lot of meditation seems counter intuitive.
How would relaxing for 5-20 minutes carry over into the rest of your day?
Well, it has been proven again and again that meditation affects you in your other day to day activities.
This study found that 8 weeks of mindfulness training improved workers’ focus and memory:
the meditation group reported lower levels of stress and showed better memory for the tasks they had performed; they also switched tasks less often and remained focused on tasks longer.
Meditation can reduce social anxiety
This section is important to me, because this is an area that I really struggled with.
During my conversations, I would NEVER be present to the moment.
My mind was always somewhere else
Improves Memory & Productivity
If the benefits above aren’t getting you excited, this might!
One study found that a 2-week mindfulness training would improve cognitive performance.
I expected good things, but reading the results of this one shocked me!
The study reports:
Mindfulness training improved both GRE reading-comprehension scores and working memory capacity while simultaneously reducing the occurrence of distracting thoughts during completion of the GRE and the measure of working memory.
Imagine feeling like this during every task that you’re doing!
How much more could you accomplish each day? What would you do with that extra time? How much less stress would you feel each day?
Our results suggest that cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with wide-reaching consequences.
Improves your Sleep
One study found that meditation helped improve sleep.
Two groups were formed:
One that did mindfulness meditation, while the other changed nothing.
Not only did the group that meditated have better sleep, but the study found improvements in other areas too, like:
- insomnia symptoms
- depression symptoms
- fatigue interference
- fatigue severity
What to Know About Meditating
Here are a few things to know before you start! And some things I struggled with along the way.
Meditation is Hard – Your Mind Will Wander
Most of my friends who have tried meditating on my recommendation have said:
It’s hard! I can’t stop thinking about other things.
And that’s okay.
Meditating is hard, especially in such a distracted world.
Make it a challenge by trying to be more present in your meditations each time.
You may have thoughts that you’re surprised about.
That’s part of it! Let your mind think about things that it may not have if you hadn’t given it a break.
Set a Routine and Time
Try to meditate at the same time everyday.
You need to turn meditation into a habit for full effectiveness.
If you forget to meditate one day, get right back into it! It takes a few weeks to make it a habit.
I like to mediate in the morning because it sets the tone for a positive, focused day.
Sometimes I’ll do an additional shorter meditation before bed to help relax before sleep.
What to Do Before Meditating
You can meditate anywhere, but there are some small things that can make the experience more enjoyable and powerful.
Get a Diffuser and Essential Oils
It’s important to setup a good environment for meditation.
A dark, quiet room is a great start. But you can add even more to create the best conditions possible for your meditation.
Essential oils have different effects and certain ones are great for relaxation.
I use a diffuser and leave it on in my room for about 15 minutes, so that the room smells good before I enter.
This tells my mind:
“It’s time to forget about everything and relax for a bit.”
Sandalwood, lavender and eucalyptus are all supposed to be great essential oils for mediation and relaxation.
Get a Himalayan Salt Lamp
I like to meditate in the dark, but not pitch black.
The light from a salt lamp is enough so I can see, but not strong enough to bother me during meditation.
There are other benefits of having a salt lamp as well, like improving the air quality of your room.
Find a Quiet Spot
The smallest distraction can interrupt a meditation.
Find a quiet spot inside or outside that can consistently be used as a meditation spot.
You can also turn up a guided meditation to high volume, but that can often be overwhelming.
Find a Comfortable Spot
Not only should your meditation area be silent, but make sure it’s comfortable!
If you’re sitting on a chair that makes your back hurt, you’re going to be distracted.
I prefer to meditate on my back in my bed. I get deeper breaths and am much more comfortable than sitting. If you fall asleep during meditation, sitting may be better for you!
Make sure your room is a good temperature. I like to keep the fan on and the room at a very cool temperature.
Turn off All Electronics and Distractions
Keep your phone away!
If you’re doing a guided mediation on your phone, make sure notifications are OFF!
Not vibrate, and not a quieter ringer. Off!
You don’t want any distractions while meditating.
How to Start Meditating
Apps like Headspace have grown in popularity over the years.
It’s super easy to get started and a great way if you’re really, really new to meditation.
YouTube has a wide range of meditations you can choose from.
There are thousands of different videos with different types of meditation, anywhere from a few minutes to hours!
This can be overwhelming, which is why it’s best to use an app like Headspace to start. Once you get more comfortable, you’ll be able to feel the difference between varying types of meditation to really know what works best for you.