You may have heard that meditation is something you should be doing on a daily basis. Granted, stillness is something most of us don’t come by on the regular, but it's definitely something we could use a little more of. The ability to focus can not be underrated. We live in a world of endless distractions, sights and sounds. Meditation is a lot like surfing. You paddle out on the water, distancing yourself from the noise, the technology and responsibilities.
Gliding along the water’s silky touch, you feel the energy of the ocean pulling you. The saltiness of the air fills your lungs; you can feel, hear and smell the waves crashing. As they form, instantly your mind is focused. You are calm and collected while you start to paddle. When you catch momentum, the spaces between your thoughts start to linger, your breath is steady. Instinctively, when the moment is right, you stand up. You’re gliding along the water, experiencing the beautiful and exhilarating notion that is presence. Presence of mind and presence of body. Meditation is just like surfing, and it takes a bit of practice to get it right.
Meditation aims to leave you with a sense of focus and clarity. And while a great cup of coffee can do that too, consider meditation an investment in your career, relationship and life, without the mid-afternoon energy slump. Whether you’re a surfer, budding entrepreneur, wannabe badass or all of the above, making some time a few minutes a day for the mind to make its roadmap to success could enable you to reap a lot of benefits in the long term.
Meditation improves self-awareness
Our mental states play a major role in the way we perform. If you need to perform at a high level, you need a mind that can’t be distracted. Successful athletes such as Steph Gilmore, Kelly Slater, greats like Gerry Lopez – even Oprah – have used meditation as a means to getting out of their own way. This self awareness is a conscious knowledge of your own character and feelings. Overcoming fears and self doubt is the mainstream way most of us can get to where we want to go. You will become more aware of your emotions and use them to your advantage. The greater your self awareness, the more focused you become and the more present you are. They say that every technical mistake in surfing is preceded by a mental one. Meditation helps you settle the dust that is your constant mind chatter, and let a whirlwind of thoughts dissipate to make room for what really matters: The now. Think of it this way: If you’re already thinking about your next wave, you’re not going to make the one you’re currently on.
It forms patience and discipline
While you won’t become an enlightened yogi overnight, persistence forms habit. If you don’t have it already, meditation will give you a sense of discipline you didn’t know you could have. You can start small, like setting a timer on your phone for three, even two minutes, and setting that time aside to sit and breath. You don’t have to make giant leaps; you just have to start. I know what you’re thinking: it can be hard not thinking, in fact, it is hard. Meditation unlocks a part of your brain that lets you approach a problem from a different perspective; in a calmer, more rationalised tone. This doesn’t come from being able to not think, but more from being able to acknowledge your thoughts as they form in your mind, and being able to let them go as they form. Being able to come back to one point: your breath.
A simple breathing technique to calm your mind:
This pranayama technique (that’s breathing, to throw a little Sanskrit at you) is really helpful to calm the mind and nervous system, and will help you settle into your meditation. It consists of inhaling through the nose on a count of four (or 6, or 7… whatever you are comfortable with), holding your breath at the top of your inhale, and exhaling your breath for that same count, then holding your breath at the bottom of your exhale. Do this for a couple of rounds, or for the whole meditation period.