How Five Minutes of “Nothing” Can Change Your Life
Meditation is an ancient practice that has never been more relevant or applicable to daily life.
Our frenetic lifestyles, with our career aspirations and fitness routines, demand our constant attention.
Can five minutes of doing nothing really increase your productivity? Yes, it can, as well as so much more!
Meditation is a practice, an approach to training the mind in the same way that various types of exercises train the body.
As with physical exercise, there is no single correct way of meditating; rather,
you must find the type the works best for you and then return to it consistently for optimal results.
Though some may be quick to pass off meditation as hocus pocus, or evidence of the benefits of meditation as flimsy,
in fact its benefits are backed by neuroscience and have been proven in respected clinical trials and research.
Investigations of meditation based on neuroscience look at the five categories of brainwaves.
The brainwave spectrum ranges from Gamma, the shortest waves which are generated when our minds are most engaged with active learning,
to Delta, the longest waves, which are present when our minds are in a dreamless, sleep-like state.
Each category of brainwave corresponds to a different level of activity.
In meditation, we progress through the first three categories before arriving at the final two, Theta and Delta.
The theory behind meditation is that working through these various wavelengths activates different parts of our brains,
while also lengthening the time between the production of brainwaves and the generation of thoughts.
The presence of longer-wavelength brainwaves together with slower thought
production allows for greater mindfulness and development of the most relevant, helpful thoughts.
As we gain greater control of our minds via meditation, we can in essence choose our thoughts.
Different types of meditation achieve different ends: concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point,
anything from the in-and-out of your breath to the beads on a necklace (also known as a meditation mala) to a chair in the distance,
and is associated with achieving greater concentration and improved ability to focus.
Over time, you learn to focus on the point, rather than the distractions.
This type of meditation takes practice and time to perfect,
and so new practitioners of concentration meditation should not be discouraged if they are only able to achieve a few minutes of success at a time.
Are you looking to promote a more balanced mindset, or have you noticed that, lately,
certain thoughts consistently, involuntarily come to mind, and you are not sure why?
Mindfulness meditation might be the right type of meditation practice for you.
While concentration meditation focuses on a single thought to the exclusion of everything else,
mindfulness meditation encourages the organic development of thought
so that you can observe and make note of how your thoughts and feelings evolve and create patterns.
Identifying innate tendencies can then help you to improve your reactions to and perceptions of the world around you.
One of the best places for seeing the beneficial effects of meditation is in the workplace,
a place of great stress and chaotic energy in our lives.
But did you know that your workplace can be one of the best places for the actual practice of meditation?
Practicing concentration and training yourself to find peace in the midst of a chaotic office will serve you not only by
refocusing and refreshing you during your day, but will also improve your ability to do these things while working!
Successful workplace meditation can lead to greater productivity and better performance,
improved workplace relationships and rapport, lowered stress levels,
and positive associations with your time at the office, leading to a happier overall life!
The first step to successful meditation in the workplace is to find a place to meditate. If you are just starting your meditation practice,
you might want to find a quiet corner or place away from your desk and your coworkers where you can truly disconnect from the world surrounding you.
You might need to move around and try out different environments before you find the right one for you.
Some ideas: a quiet stairwell, a sunlit corner, an unused conference room, a rooftop, or your desk.
If you are opting for place that is surrounded by people,
make sure they know you are off limits for a while –
they can wait five minutes for you to re-center yourself.
Try to avoid high traffic areas where people tend to gather or converse, such as cafeterias, lobbies, or waiting areas.
You might want to keep a pair of earbuds or ear plugs in your desk, perhaps even an eye mask,
to discourage any distractions from blinking or buzzing phones or computers.
Better yet, set your electronics to silent and take off any Bluetooth- enabled watches or fitness trackers.
Finally, get comfortable, prepare yourself, focus on your breathing, bring your heart rate down,
and allow the world to float away for a little bit. When you are ready, start to re-introduce your environment back into your consciousness.
Before you open your eyes, take a final deep breath, start to organize your thoughts,
inventory your to-do list, and then pick your first three tasks. Then open your eyes and get ready to tackle your list!
We may have busy lives, but the consistent practice of finding your center in the midst of this crazy world, even for 30 seconds at a time,
can be incredibly beneficial for your mind and body as well as for your career and personal life.
Is there anything else that can promise such a great return on such a small investment? Sounds like a smart business decision!