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Meditate

 

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December 28, 2012

I was talking to my good friend Stephan yesterday about meditation. Stephan is a fellow entrepreneur at Start-Up Chile and his startup is called Fairlink. Fairlink aims to connect graduates from underdeveloped nations with employers in developed nations. The employers can offload basic services such as transcriptions and research to these graduates for a minimum wage. The advantages are that graduates get income and employers get to focus on other more important tasks for their companies.

Stephan is a big believer in meditation and he takes time out everyday to practice it. He says that meditation helps him calm down and reduce his frustrations. There are times when things don’t go well for him, as we’ve all experienced in our own lives, and his practice of meditation helps him take a few deep breaths and calm down instead of blowing up. Meditation is one of many methods Stephan employs to reach a state of internal peace and happiness. It also helps him become more aware of his surroundings and live more in the present.

I tried meditation myself for a couple of weeks. I usually don’t get frustrated when I have bad days so learning to calm down and deal with frustrations is not my goal for meditation. On the other hand meditation is said to help with productivity and that’s why I decided to try it out. Theoretically, meditation allows you to step back from all the thoughts flowing through your head. It’s about gettings some space and allowing your thoughts to flow past you instead of getting distracted by them as they come. You learn to suppress the urge to catch each thought, act upon it, and then jump to the next thought that comes by. So next time your working and an email pops up, you suppress the urge to check it out. You suppress the urge to switch the tab to your facebook page or check the score of that big match every five minutes.

I used Headspace┬áto help me with my meditation. They have a free trial period which is a ten minute meditation program for ten days. They guide you through the meditation and talk you through a set of exercises in each session. There are breathing exercises and awareness exercises where you listen to the sounds around you or direct your attention towards your body. I mentioned this to Stephan and he said he did mediation differently. For him it was focusing on a particular object or abstraction and using that as an anchor to hold him down against the torrent of thoughts. Still others like to put headphones on and listen to music while meditating. I guess there are multiple ways of doing it. The important thing is that you give yourself space and not act upon your thoughts. It’s not about control or concentration, but about release. In fact, Stephan practices meditation even while cleaning his dishes or walking.

As for the productivity part, I didn’t test it out so I don’t have any data to decide conclusively if it was increased. Stephan doesn’t know either but he said, and I agree with him, it definitely doesn’t do any harm to productivity. However, when I was doing the headspace meditation exercises, I did feel a lot more calm and aware of my surroundings just like Stephan said. At times I reached a state of complete tranquility and serenity, totally removed from the rush of daily life.

Have you ever tried meditation? What were the results? Did it make you calmer, more productive, quicker at thinking or decision making?

In the photo: Siddharth T.C., friend and cofounder of Treadalong.

 

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