Can mindfulness and accomplishment coexist? Can you truly be present to each moment and still strive towards your goals? These are questions that many of us ask when we are first confronted with the idea of meditation. Based on personality tests like Myers Briggs and the Gallup Personality Survey (which are pseudoscience by the way) I’m considered both an achiever and an executer. Typically, this means that I strive for success in all of life’s endeavors and find self-esteem based on my accomplishments.
But wait, how can that be if I also have a meditation practice? How can one strive for achievements and success and yet sit still for up to an hour every day doing nothing but listening to the mind? Isn’t that a contradiction?
It has often been said that those who meditate regularly can become passive and apathetic. These individuals worry that meditation will make them “soft” and they certainly can’t afford to lose their edge. After all, their grit and edginess is what got them to where they are today, right?
Now, if you are frequent meditator like me, you probably see the fallacy in these statements. You know like I do that meditation actually helps you accomplish more! But, how is that possible? Well, keep reading and you will find out.
Cleaning Out Your Cupboard
On average, an individual has roughly 4,000 unique thoughts a day! That’s a lot of thinking, daydreaming and maybe even stressing. Meditation is like clearing out an old cupboard. Most of the stuff that we pile into our cupboards goes to waste and is never used. Therefore, our pantry becomes a place for useless items that take up space and cause anxiety (especially if you are OCD like me).
When you sit with your mind you clear out the clutter and in turn, make space for more important activities—activities that will help you accomplish your goals. The truth is, our brains can only process so many thoughts on a given day. If you don’t take inventory of your thoughts, you spend a lot of wasted energy on activities and ideas that do not lead you closer to whatever it is you want to achieve.
Getting Back on Track
Life, it seems, is a series of distractions. Worst of all, the office is like a cornucopia of distractions. Your boss needs a report right away, you receive an urgent email, your coworker interrupts you to talk about their life and so on and so on. Achievement comes when you can decipher the essential from the non-essential. Ultimately, success is doing what’s right over and over again. Doing what’s right is really just spending your energy on those activities that are most conducive to reaching your goals and being the best version of yourself.
When you meditate you gain clarity and create the space necessary to see your thoughts as they are happening. It’s like going to the gym. The more you run on the treadmill, the better you get and the further you can go! Similarly, the more you meditate, the more you can see your thoughts and redirect your attention to your work. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in our thoughts and when we do so, we lose focus which ultimately leads to losing sight of our goals. Distractions and multitasking are productivity killers and having a strong mindful muscle is like having an accountability coach. It will keep you focused and keep you pushing towards your life goals. There is a huge difference between being productive and being busy. Being productive gives you energy while being busy saps your energy.
Focus and Clarity
Have you ever woken up in the morning on a day in which you had a full schedule and thought to yourself “How the hell am I supposed to get all this done?” Before you get out of bed you are wasting valuable energy stressing about the chores of the day. Mediation helps keep you on track because it can stop you from chasing your thoughts down the rabbit hole. Sitting to watch your mind every morning actually gives you energy because you aren’t trying to process 10 things at once. Our minds are similar to a computer in that if you have 12 tasks (or thoughts) running at the same time the computer becomes less efficient. So, meditation is like simultaneously hitting the control-alt-delete buttons and ending all the tasks that are non-essential.
Finally, when you mediate you become fully present to this moment and you reach a state of mind called “flow”. Flow is when you are 100% engrossed in what you’re doing. Your whole body and mind hone in on the task at hand and your ability and efficiency increases significantly. Flow also gets you out of your head and away from your distracting thoughts.
Interestingly, science suggests that the mind state of flow is the most optimal state for human beings. In fact, people spend millions of dollars every year trying to reach flow states. Psychedelic drugs like DMT and sensory deprivation tanks are very popular in communities like Silicon Valley because they help people get out of their thoughts and into a state of flow.
Often, when we meditate we reach a flow state and as with anything in life, the more you expose yourself to something the easier it is to recapture it on demand. Being in a flow state means you are completely free of distraction and meditation is a conduit to reach this state of mind.
Hopefully by now you can see that meditation can only help you achieve your goals. In reality, meditation gives you a competitive advantage and allows you to navigate through life with more ease and less stress which invariably produces more success! The benefits of meditation are plentiful and the idea that it can make you complacent and apathetic is a complete farce!
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. We hope you found it interesting and informative. As always, we would love to hear from you! For those who have a meditation practice, let us know how it has impacted your life and your ideas of success!
Until next time, many many blessings!