Mindfulness meditation is an essential tool in any entrepreneurial skillset, the ultimate habit of highly effective hustlers, and a crucial facet of any decent personal brand. To unlock our full potential, all we have to do is squeeze in 30 minutes of breathing between cryrotherapy and p90x. We take our seats, we automate our social media marketing, and we gain complete control of our thoughts and emotions, forever.
Through mindfulness meditation, we’ll learn that compassion for the entire human race is the ultimate competitive advantage. Once we’ve dominated our own hearts and minds and made them our bitches, we can start controlling the attention of those around us, as well.
If you’re already practicing meditation and you’re doing it correctly, you know the feelings of equanimity, well-being, and superiority it brings. If you’re not meditating yet, or you’re afraid you’re screwing it up, keep reading.
The Truth About Meditation Practice
You’re still here, which means you’re not 100% balls-out confident that meditation is changing the game, taking it to the next level, or crushing it for you. That’s okay. Neither am I.
Even if meditation could rein in our egos and emotions and give us superpowers, anyone who’s meditating for personal gain, or with an end objective in mind, is missing the point.
We drive ourselves crazy with thoughts, desires, and attachments. Not just the ones that distract us or divert us from our goals, but the goals themselves. The pain comes not from the way things are, but from the idea that things should be different.
We will never be able to fix this. The point of mindfulness practice is simply to notice it. There can be great power and relief in that noticing, but, again, that’s beside the point. The point is simply the noticing itself.
Meditation doesn’t stop negative thinking — it exposes it. It doesn’t come with valuable stock options, but it may give us the insight to see how much of our pain comes from ego, ambition, and status anxiety.
Sigmund Freud said that “the only thing about masturbation to be ashamed of is doing it badly.”
This is not true of meditation. There’s no need to be ashamed of doing it badly. If we’re doing it badly, we’re right on schedule. The point of the practice is not to improve. The point is the practice itself.
The bad news about meditation is that it’s a pain in the ass. The good news is that it’s simple. Just separate your direct experience from everything else.
Take a seat, either in a chair or cross-legged on a cushion. Close your eyes or let them droop at half-mast. And gradually turn your attention to your breathing. Give the breath your full awareness.
When I do this, the first thing I notice is that my mind is firing all sorts of thoughts at me, including mundane worries, petty jealousies, thousand-dollar business plans, and some truly dark and batshit stuff. When this happens, I acknowledge it. I say to myself, “thinking,” or I visualize a bubble floating up through clear water. And I bring my attention back to the breath. I continue until I’ve utterly lost my mind or my ten-minute timer goes off.
If you do this and you believe, straight away, that you’re not thinking, you may be so used to thinking that you’re thinking you’re not thinking. If you think you’re kicking ass at this right away, that’s a good sign you’re afraid to do it badly. Do it badly.
Great! Now repeat this practice every day until you’ve released any expectation that you will ever master it. 90% of success is showing up, and meditation is the art of showing up.
Why I Meditate Every Day, Even Though I Suck at It
I have dabbled in mindfulness meditation on and off for much of my life. In 2012, I began to experience crippling panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. Thanks to an unorthodox therapist, I discovered the shamatha practice (akin to what is typically known as mindfulness meditation) and began to meditate in earnest.
I’ve been doing it for awhile, and I am still a basket case, tortured by rumination, grasping, and self-aggrandizement.
The only difference is that I’m a lot more comfortable with that now.
I’ve learned some humility. I’ve learned to regard my thoughts and emotions with healthy skepticism and to take a second to breathe before I lean on my car horn, snap at my wife, or walk out on a job or a friendship. Sometimes I will do those things anyway, but that’s how it goes. I have had fleeting moments of experiencing the world beyond selfishness and judgment.
I am a sloppy sack of feelings, organs, and outmoded instincts, and I’m okay with that. When I try to fix myself, I’m wasting everyone’s time.The objective is to show up. The goal is to eliminate the need for a goal.
Live Real Mindfulness By Sucking Every Day
My daily to-do list is simple enough. Show up. Be human. Be a small, flawed person who forgot to rehearse, but show up anyway.
There is no guaranteed ROI. As I’ve learned to acknowledge that the stories I tell about myself are fiction, I’ve noticed that that my life does not fit into a clean narrative arc, which precludes “improvement.”
I just show up for this moment. And the next.
Whatever happens, we’ll be there to witness it. Whatever happens next, we’ll witness that, too, in a new way. We’ll be a part of the poetry, paradox, and change.