Training Your Brain

You can change your brain!

In 2013 became a meditator.

I started the way people sometimes get in cold water. I eased in. Slowly. Cautiously. Timidly. Probably with that pinched, anticipating look on my face that icy water creates.

I jumped in (no I eased in) because I was struggling with anxiety and racing thoughts. Our business and personal life was challenging me in ways I wasn’t fully able to handle. All of that messed with my ability to sleep. And so I tried all sorts of “remedies” from alcohol to Tylenol PM (oh, and stupidly sometime combined those–really a bad idea). I was practicing yoga regularly which helped physically and some mentally but I knew I needed some thing more to have any chance of staying up with my crazy life.

Mediation made me a more than little nervous. The “woo” factor freaked me out. I thought it had to have a religious flavor. I didn’t want or need that. My faith and my “believes” are just fine.

But in researching I discovered (remember this was way back in 2013) mindfulness mediation. Not about religion but about training your brain.

Whoa, did my brain need training. Most of the time it was like 6 month old Beagle on too much caffeine. Running wide open bouncing all over the place. And then completely asleep. Not completely out of control but not where I needed to be. And sometimes peeing on the carpet (metaphorically).

And the idea of sitting quietly with only the voices in my head terrified me.

So, I’m going to meditate?

Inspite of my fears and the many voices in my head, I was sure this was the answer.

I started reading.

The breakthrough for me came with this book. 8 Minute Meditation. No idea how I found it. I’m not making a recommendation that you buy the book, but I am saying it helped me. The author gives several different ways to meditate.

And I thought: “I can do anything for 8 minutes.”

HA!

8 minutes is forever. I mean FOREVER.

8 minutes is nothing when you’re playing a video game or watching your favorite TV show or sleeping. But sitting quietly…with NOTHING to do. 8 minutes is an ice age.

But I stuck with it. Somewhere in the 3 week I actually had a breakthrough where I realized I’d mostly been mindful. And so it began for me.

What I can tell you that mindfulness meditation is one of my core practices. After more than 3 years of daily meditation I’m different.

That beagle brain of mine is better behaved. My anxiety is less. My prayer life is better. (Remember this is mindfulness training, not a religious practice, yet because I concentrate better and better control my thoughts, my prayer life is stronger).

If you’re curious about meditation. Check out Dan Harris book, 10% Happier. Dan tells the story of his journey and it’s a good read. He also has an app that I’m currently using as my timer and refresher. The title of the app says it all: “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.” It’s the best app I’ve seen once you have some basics down. Worth a look.

We’ll talk more about meditation but for now, here’s an article that might encourage your pursuit. I definitely am less anxious and calmer. I’d like to think I learn more quickly but that’s harder to prove.

What about you? Meditator? Skeptic? I’d love to know your experiences and challenges. Let’s walk this out together.

Comment to: sthomas [at] wizardofads [dot] com

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Photo Credit: IntangibleArts