You don’t have to tell me, I already know that you don’t have time to meditate.
I know that you like your morning coffee, your dawn workout, or your lazy peruse of the newspaper before you go to work, and that you aren’t willing to swap those things for meditation. After all, meditation is mostly boring, and there are many other morning activities that have more kick.
But meditation is like a Rothko painting. It looks simple, boring perhaps, and yet if you stay with it, it will illuminate your mind. There is no bubble-bath for the soul that is better than meditation, so for the next thirty days, why not take then ten-minute challenge. The opposite of a boot-camp, you don’t need to get up early to participate, and you don’t have to quite sugar, quite calories or quit Netflix to join in.
For the next thirty days, you just need 10 minutes to listen to a guided audio meditation practice.
Even short meditations can change your perception of life.
A study from The University of California randomized some students into three groups. They asked one group to complete a 15-minute guided meditation. They asked the second group to sit quietly without meditating (the ‘unfocused attention’ group). Finally, the third group was the unlucky group that were asked to spend 15 minutes worrying. After the students completed these activities, they viewed a range of emotional pictures from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS).
While everybody saw the same pictures, amazingly the meditators interpreted the pictures in a very different light. After the intervention, meditators had positive responses to neutral images (e.g. an image of mushrooms), whereas the non-meditation groups viewed these neutral photos as being more negative. The meditation group also seemed to be in a better mood, with more emotional stability, when viewing the pictures – whereas the other two groups were in a worse mood, and were more emotionally volatile as they saw different types of pictures.
Amazingly, the meditators also tended to incline towards the negative images. They expressed more willingness to continue viewing negative images than the other two groups. Don’t google IAPS negative images, some of them are really horrible, but the take home message is that meditation – even short meditations that don’t interfere with your daily routines – make you emotionally tough. Not only are you happier, you see the world through rose tinted glasses – where normal things radiate with a hint of joy.
But unlike rose tinted glasses that at worst can be delusional, meditation enables you to lean in towards suffering – and so you gain a deeper, more realistic perspective on life.
So for the next three weeks, take up the 10-minute meditation challenge. This week’s 10-minute meditation available below. The focus for this week is simply settling into the moment, and into your body. Next Monday (August 13th), a new 10-minute practice will be ready for you to download - and I will tell you a little more about some meditation research to keep you inspired.
Meditation doesn’t have to take over your life, it is more like salad dressing. Just add a little bit, and it transforms the drab lettuce of life to a delicacy.