Speed up by slowing down.

The art of perpetual meditation.

A little background

One of the biggest themes that always seems to emerge while studying what makes someone successful, is the ability to consistently make good decisions. Most of those people accredit it to meditating and actually taking the time to think about big questions.

A common theme in lives of those around me, is to be attached at the hip to any form of instant gratification that’s possible. One of those prime examples being, social media. Now, I’m guilty of this as well, it’s something that’s become so ingrained in our culture, that if you’re not on any social platform, you’re not a “real person” anymore. This phenomenon–though not new–is one that’s going to run everybody’s motivation to do the “impossible” into the ground. By constantly focusing on what goes on around you you take in an enormous amount of information that at the end of the day, really didn’t give you any value. The time spent on any social network, seeing what your friends have to say, could be spent building an unstoppable empire out of your passion.

I recently left my job after two weeks of working there. Why? Well, it’s because I’m already tired of being bombarded with things to do, that I don’t consider important. I, like many others in the world, want to be able to do what I want and get paid for it. For a long while, I thought that getting a job doing web development full-time was what I wanted. Turns out, I was totally wrong. It’s one of those things you can’t learn about yourself until you try. The decision to leave wasn’t a rash one, either. It was something I was thinking about while working, while not at work and before I went to bed. It caused an insurmountable level of stress that clouded every semblance of a dream I’d ever had. All this, in two weeks time.

This isn’t the first time I’m unemployed either, I’ve gone this route numerous times, but this time is different. I have an understanding as to why I can’t be an 8 hour a day, mentally drained pleb that the regular world wants. My only problem is that I still have a hard time relinquishing the societal pressures that are put on me and everyone else in this world. Which is where my attempt at refining perpetual meditation comes into play.

I want to go back in time a little bit. When you were a child, did you worry about having to make money? Were you essentially forced to do something you love for 8 hours a day? If you were, you wouldn’t want to do anything for the rest of your life. This is what’s wrong with our current work structure in my eyes. I know for a fact that if I set low goals and give myself two weeks to make a site, I can crank it out. I’ve done it many times before and I had fun doing it. Why? Because I’d work for 4-6 hours a day and only have one task to focus on. By having days 8 hours long, you get tired and start looking for things to pass the time. Whether that’s reading articles on programming—that don’t actually benefit you—just because your employer said “it’s ok, it’s work related.” or contacting a client about a small change you made by writing a 400 word email. At the end of the day, you’re irritable and the hope of making something awesome has evaporated faster than it materialized.

I know I’ve kind of gone off the rails a little bit, but I think it’s necessary to set the stage for this post.

Speed up by slowing down

One of the biggest changes I’ve made in my life–specifically the last two months–was taking more time to reflect on my thoughts and try to understand them. If i’m not happy about the way something is going, I change it. The effects of that definitive decision making alone has led to some of the best moments in my life. But, to do so you need to apply, what I’m calling, “perpetual meditation.” I know, it sounds hokey and lame, but it’s helped me a lot in the last couple months.

I’m a very anxious person by nature; constantly letting myself blow things out of proportion and scare my way out of doing something beneficial. Whether it’s a business decision, something that be challenging or a fear of being judged. These are things that everyone deals with. This is where perpetual meditation comes into play.

Think of it like mini-mediation sessions throughout the day. If you’re feeling stressed about something, take 5 minutes—which you can afford to take, don’t tell yourself you can’t—and reflect on why you’re stressed or anxious. Ask yourself important questions to uncover the sources of your anxieties.

Some questions I use are:

  • Do I think I’m not good enough?
  • Are all my doubts based around “what ifs?”
  • Have I set myself too many goals for today?
  • Is what I’m doing actually important?

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, take your immediate, gut reaction answers and write them down, preferably somewhere you can refer to them easily. Now, focus on one at a time, breaking them down until you feel you have a good understanding of your answers.

After you’ve gotten the answers you’re satisfied with using as a basis to make changes in your life, you might be overcome with more self-doubt or anxiety than when you started. This is where phase two of perpetual meditation comes into play. Set aside another 5-10 minutes—trust me, it’s worth it—close your eyes and breath away the stresses.

By acknowledging the anxieties prior to releasing them, you won’t be fighting your brain as much or at all. Focus on your breathing and your breathing alone. If this is something that’s hard for you, one of the things I like to do to help me focus, is visualize your breath leaving your body. If you’ve ever spent time in -20º weather, you can see steam pour out of your mouth when you exhale; which is what I want you to visualize. Everytime you exhale, picture all the stresses and anxieties you had, roll out of your mouth—riding the steamy trails—into the depths of the abyss, not to be focused on.

This might take some practice. But, like anything in this world that’s worth doing, what takes practice often has the highest return.

Acting on your goals

You might be looking at the list after the breathing exercise and wondering—”what the hell do I do now?” That’s a perfectly good question. This is when you start taking them one-by-one and making them happen. If you feel that procrastination is one of your issues, focus on that and start by eliminating the causes of procrastination during your productive hours.

By following through with the act of meditation, you can enter into the ring and combat your sources of anxiety with a clear mind. Allowing you to make more focused and beneficial changes than if you were still fighting them off with a stick.

Acting on your goals will definitely be the hardest part. But, in the end, isn’t happiness worth it? I sure as hell hope so! There’s no better feeling than obtaining razor sharp focus and making things happen.

One of the biggest hurdles will be allowing yourself to turn off the things around you. Stop compulsively looking at your emails, checking facebook or twitter. Put your phone on vibrate and leave it on your pocket. Set up your notifications so that only text messages and phone calls will come through. All of these little steps will help you get to a better, more productive you.