I’ve been interested in self-improvement for a decade. I remember trying to meditate back in high school. It never worked. Inhale, exhale, I would think to myself. Suddenly, I’d start thinking about naked chicks and my meditation adventure would come to a quick halt.
If you’ve interested in self-improvement at all, you’ve probably heard about the many benefits of meditation. It’s good for your health. It makes you smarter. It kills stress. It destroys the ego. It allows you to detach. . . .
All of that is bullshit.
I’ve been meditating for 20 minutes a day, almost every day, for the past year. While there is a nice “zen” feeling that happens during the exercise, it quickly dissipates as you rush back into the real world of exams and deadlines.
“If meditation is so pointless, why do you do it?” you ask. Good question. Meditation isn’t pointless. Despite the fact that most touted benefits are complete bullshit, meditation is one of the most important skills I’ve ever learned. Why?
Meditation allows you to take control of your thoughts.
If you don’t meditate, it’s likely that you don’t control your mind. You’re just on autopilot all day long. Your self-limiting beliefs are constantly tumbling around in your subconscious. When you see the hot girl you want to fuck and think–whether consciously or not–“Man, I’ll never be worthy of a chick like that,” you’re only reinforcing those limiting beliefs.
That’s all fear and anxiety are. Habitual thought patterns. Or, as psychologists call them, “automatic thoughts.” Somewhere along the line, you learned such thoughts and they were reinforced over time. Maybe you didn’t make the basketball team in 7th grade, and then your girlfriend dumped you for a jock, and you’ve been living your life thinking, “I’m just not cool.”
Meditation lets you fix that.
Meditation isn’t easy. Even though I have a year of practice under my belt, I’m no expert. I still find my mind wandering. The real benefit of meditation, though, is that you can catch yourself. Let me illustrate:
You’re sitting on the floor. You set a timer for 20 minutes. You close your eyes. Inhale, exhale, you think, as you do just that. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Wait, what is today? Tuesday? Oh, shit. I forgot to read for class. And I have that meeting with the dean this afternoon. And good lord, finals are coming up in a week. I really need to study. I’ve gotta get those outlines hammered out. Mmm, that girl in the gym looked good this morning. I’d really like to bend her over and . . . hey, wait a minute! I’m meditating. Inhale, exhale.
And so the cycle continues. Once you’re able to start catching yourself, though, that’s when the magic begins to happen.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but it can be done. And meditation is the key that will get you through the door. Quit thinking that you’re poor. Quit thinking that you aren’t smart enough. Quit thinking that you aren’t cool. Quit thinking that you aren’t wealthy.
When I first started, my self-talk was always a defensive measure. An automatic thought would arise: You’re going to fail your finals! I would catch it and consciously replace it with a better thought: I am a straight-A student. I am going to make a 4.0 this semester. With enough practice, the good thoughts begin to overpower the bad ones. My subconscious is currently at a tipping point. The war is nearly won. I now cycle about 20-30 positive affirmations through my head all day long, every day. I am wealthy. I am brilliant. I am happy. I am healthy. I am energetic. I am powerful. I am present. I am friendly. I am well-liked. I am blessed. I am abundant. When they fully take root, I will be unstoppable.
Are you ready to take control of your thought life? Start meditating today.