Today’s article by Jim Ellis is brought to you in collaboration with KnowledgeForMen.com.
“I have lived with several Zen masters – all of them cats.” ~Eckhart Tolle
For those of you who aren’t “in the know”. There’s an age-old practice in the middle of a resurgence… And you won’t want to miss its triumphant return.
You may have your own preconceived ideas about meditation, but may not have grasped its full potential (or the science behind it… which we will get to later)
Meditation no longer lurks in the hidden closet of the New Age hippies, Julia Roberts in “Eat Pray Love,” or detached spiritual gurus. Successful, prolific, and downright badass men and women from all around the world are beginning to realize that these people might have been on to something.
The science is in and the hocus pocus dogma is out…
Meditation is a game-changer for individuals who want to elevate their performance, radically revitalize their health, and even spice things up in the old bedroom.
In this guide, I am going to reveal everything that you need to know about meditation and its benefits.
How do you do it?
Why should you do it?
Who else is doing it?
All of these questions (and more) will be answered in this guide to meditation. So, let’s dive in.
What is Meditation?
And that’s true. But there’s more to it. According to FreeMeditation.com, the practice extends far beyond simply sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed and focusing on your breath.
At its core, meditation is “…A state of profound, deep peace that occurs when the mind is calm and silent, yet completely alert. This definition allows for some much-needed variety within the practice, opening meditation up to individuals who previously perceived it as a religious or spiritual action.
You don’t have to be sitting to meditate.
You don’t even need to have your eyes closed.
Meditation is all about clearing your mind and achieving a mental state of peace and calm regardless of the circumstances of the outside world.
Who Is Doing It?
“I felt healthier and more comfortable in my body. The whole world looked better.“~ David Lynch, film director, producer
A wide array of people meditate – from sports heroes to prominent activists to well-known actors to your local insurance agent.
With the practice’s popularity growing, the list of those who practice meditation may someday overtake the list of those who don’t.
But until that day comes, I wanted to point out a few individuals who you might be familiar with who follow or have followed a serious meditation practice at one point in their lives.
Tell me if any of these entertainment professionals ring a bell?
- Oprah Winfrey
- Hugh Jackman
- Paul McCartney
- Angelina Jolie
- Jerry Seinfeld
- Martin Scorsese
- Ellen Degeneres
- Will Smith
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Eva Mendez
- Clint Eastwood
How about these athletes?
- Michael Jordan
- Kobe Bryant
- Joe Namath
- Derek Jeter
- Lebron James
Really? None of those guys rang a bell? Well, how about these entrepreneurs and executives?
- Rupert Murdoch – Chairman and CEO, News Corp
- Bill Ford – Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company
- Richard Branson – Founder of the Virgin Group, encompassing 400 companies
- Steve Jobs – Co-founder, Apple, Inc.
- Russell Simmons – Cofounder, Def Jam Records, Hip-hop mogul
What Are the Benefits?
If Clint Eastwood and Arnold Schwarzenegger (two of the manliest men in the 21st century) practice meditation, practitioners must know something that you do not.
So what’s it all about? What are all these people finding that you may still yet to realize? What are the actual benefits of meditation that can help you in your life and your career?
In reading of the benefits, don’t take our word for it. The science backs it up. Three sources of scientific study for this article are found here:
- Studies gathered through Project-meditation.org (PM)
- Mind Body Medical Institute at Harvard Medical School (MBMI)
- The article “Scientific Benefits of Meditation” at ScienceOfPeople.com (SOP)
1. Meditation Reduces Stress
OK men, we all know how life can go.
The constant grind to find the next dollar, to seal the next deal, to land the next gig, to leave the legacy of which you can be proud, to achieve, achieve, achieve!
All this ambition and drive is great, but it can come with a price, namely, your peace of mind.
The problem is, that all this responsibility and angst can overwhelm you and create tremendous stress. The weight of the world can end up on your shoulders.
So what can you do with all that pent-up stress?
Instead of ignoring it, drinking or drugging over it, fighting it or trying to push it away, many are finding that going inward helps them discover the part of the mind that remains calm.
Science has found meditation to be incredibly effective at reducing stress and anxiety.
One study found that mindfulness and Zen type meditations significantly reduce stress when practiced over a period of three months.
Another study revealed that meditation literally reduces the density of brain tissue associated with anxiety and worrying. (SOP)
According to the Harvard resource, 100 percent of insomnia patients reported improved sleep, and 91 percent either eliminated or reduced sleeping medication use.
An amazing 75 percent of insomniacs who started a daily meditation program were able to fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed. (MBMI)
It was found that during meditation the production of the stress hormone cortisol is greatly decreased, thus making it possible for those people to better deal with stress. Sixty percent of anxiety prone people showed marked improvements in anxiety levels after 6-9 months of starting a meditation protocol. (PM)
With all that angst and ambition driving your stress levels skyward, why would you wait to shut up the world and find the benefits that inner stillness can offer?
2. Meditation Increases Your Overall Sense of Well Being
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ~ Carl Jung
What can you do with an agitated, busy and depressed mind but live an agitated, busy and depressed life?
No more, right?
Why not let go of these things and live a life of happiness, joy, and energy?
According to studies, mindfulness meditation increases your psychological functioning and in the process improves your sense of well being. When regularly practiced, meditation has significant therapeutic effects, increasing your quality of life. (SOP)
High school students exposed to a relaxation response-based curriculum had significantly increased their self-esteem. (MBMI)
Meditators were more independent and self-confident. People who deliberated daily were less fearful of death.
It has also been documented that people who use meditation and relaxation techniques may even be physiologically younger by 12 to 15 years. (PM)
If that last stat didn’t wake you up just a bit, you may already be dead.
If not, then keep reading. There will be tips on how to get started when you’re ready.
3. Meditation Improves Your Emotional Reactivity
“There are different things one can do to establish and hasten the peace process. Meditation is one way.” ~ Mike Love
There’s nothing more embarrassing and disempowering than a man who constantly flies off the handle, overreacting to every little stressor and negative situation.
What man wants to be at the mercy of his emotional nature, falling prey to being so out of control?
Or would you rather have a strong control over your emotional states?
To relate to others, to empathize, to hone your ability to pick up on cues indicating how others are feeling?
According to studies, meditation does just that, as well as increase your emotional stability, making you less likely to be influenced by negative people in your life. (SOP)
According to Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience,” meditation can put you into that flow of life when you are absolutely absorbed in the present moment, finding success in whatever you are doing.
Maybe it’s when you are painting, or writing or playing a sport. Research indicates you can reach a state of mind where you are operating in harmony with the ability to perfectly handle all challenges.
Only happiness can follow.
4. Meditation Improves Focus and Productivity
“When we meditate, what we actually do is enter into the deeper part of our being. At that time, we are able to bring to the fore the wealth that we have deep within us.“~Sri Chinmoy
You’re the man for the job.
What you need to accomplish has been laid out before you.
Do you want to have a razor-edge focus so you can be as productive as possible?
Think of the lazer-like focus one of the most productive quarterbacks in NFL history.
Tom Brady’s eagle eyes on the field and even on the sidelines tells you this athlete is on the mark.
Whereas he hasn’t commented on any meditating habits, his wife Gisele Bundchen’s did credit her own meditation as a cause of his Patriots’ team 2017 SuperBowl victory, saying on the Jimmy Fallon show: “After screaming and praying and calling my family and asking everyone to pray I started meditating, because it was the only thing that could calm me down. I channeled some great energy and I feel like a little responsible.”
Research shows that meditation does improve cognition and increases abilities to perform tasks requiring focus. (SOP)
Project Meditation reported that a Detroit-based chemical plant posted the following results three years after implementing meditation:
- Absenteeism fell by 85 percent.
- Productivity rose percent.
- Injuries dropped 70 percent.
- Profits increased 520 percent.
Other clinical findings included inner city middle school students improving grade score, work habits and cooperation, and decreasing absences. (BPMI)
So if you are the man for the job, get focused, get on it, and get meditating.
5. Meditation Improves Creativity
“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” ~Deepak Chopra
The free and relaxed mind is open to ideas.
And in that state what a man thinketh he may just be able to “create-eth.” Yes, we know that’s not a word, but you get the idea.
According to studies, being mindful helps reduce cognitive rigidity leading to some higher inspiration. The science says that meditation increases your creativity, unleashing deeper thoughts that may reside below the surface thinking. (SOP)
It’s no wonder that famous creatives like John Lennon and David Lynch made meditation a major part of their life. Make it yours, and you just may come up with a brand new idea … or two … or 1,000.
6. Meditation Improves Your Memory
What did you have for dinner two nights ago?
There is little chance of recalling. But what about those vital ideas and concepts that would be great to have committed to memory? Such as lines for a play, answers to test questions, data for research, or the name of your boss, or coworkers or girlfriends?
A successful man would possess a keen mind and a steel-trap memory. You don’t have to become one of those memory experts who can recall everyone’s name in an audience of 200, but if you simply want to improve your memory, medication does the trick.
Research has shown that. In an Indian study in 2004, the practice of Transcendental Meditation was shown to improve academic performance in university students. (SOP)
Meditation helps. Remember that!
7. Meditation Improves Your Immunity
“People who used to have migraines, don’t. People are sleeping better. People have better relationships. People interact with other people better. It’s been fantastic.” ~Oprah Winfrey
It’s tough to be a powerful He-man or Hercules if you are coughing up a lung, or carrying around Kleenex for your sniffles. Worry not, sneeze not. Yes, meditation can support you around health as well.
Different types of meditation have shown to strengthen the body’s immunes system, which makes you more resistant to viruses and infections. (SOP)
Throw that hanky away Hercules and get back to business.
8. Meditation Can Lower Blood Pressure and Inflammation
Imagine boosting your cardiovascular health by not even moving a muscle. Counterintuitive yes. But it’s true!
Research indicates mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation improve your cardiovascular health and reduce your risk of heart disease. (SOP)
Heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and oxygen consumption are all decreased with meditation. Thickness of the artery walls is shown to decrease, which effectively lowers the risk of heart attack or stroke by 8 to 15% (PM)
As well, 80 percent of hypertensive patients have lowered blood pressure and decreased medications – 16 percent are able to discontinue all of their medications. (BPMI)
So instead of letting your blood boil over, sit still and chill.
9. Meditation Can Increase the Quality of Your Sex Life
If the previous benefits weren’t enough to convince you to plant your ass on a yoga mat and do some nostril breathing, then get ready for the real mind opener.
According to a story in MindBodyGreen.com, mindfulness and meditation can do more for your sex life than that handy-dandy blue pill you’ve got waiting on your nightstand.
One student of Ziva Mediation quipped, “’Meditation’ and ‘primal sex’ aren’t an expected fit, but now I’m a believer.”
And how do sex and meditation relate, especially since most people – imagining the asceticism of chaste monks – separate the two concepts?
Here are six reasons why sex and meditation mix oh so well:
- Less stress – more focus for sex. Meditation increases sexual desire and performance by reducing cortisol and adrenaline levels
- Meditation gives you deep rest, and more energy for sex. Now that you’re rested, you’ll never have the excuse of being too tired for sex.
- WIth decreased stress, you experience better orgasms. Follow this thread: adrenaline and cortisol levels drop. Your brain produces more dopamine and serotonin. The chemistry in the brain increases sexual appetite and intensity of orgasm. Yeeeesss!
- Meditation makes you more present, and less distracted. Where else but the present moment, with high attention and awareness, can a great orgasm take place?
- Meditation helps you stop looking to your partner to complete you. By accessing your own happiness within, you take the pressure off the relationship and off the sex, therefore freeing it to be the best.
- Meditation might make your partner think you are psychic. A good aphrodisiac is a connection that can come when you are deeply aware of another, even moving them.
Not to mention that many pornography addicts have cited meditation as one of the leading reasons they were able to beat their habit… Resulting in a HUGE jump in their sexual drives and performances.
10. Meditation Can Improve Decision Making Skills
Indecision is not a sign of a man standing in his truth or power. Imagine a high-powered executive at a board meeting, claiming “well, I’m not sure which way to go.”
Important finding: meditation improves your ability to make decisions.
Studies have found that with mindfulness meditation you can improve the functioning of your brain’s decision-making centers. (SOP)
So to meditate or not to meditate – it’s your decision.
What’s the move?
11. Meditation Can Be Used to Alleviate Pain
You’ve heard “no pain, no gain?” Well, the truth may also be “do meditation, lessen pain.”
One study claims that meditation reduces physical and emotional pain better than morphine.
Hard to imagine, but it’s a scientific finding in a Forbes research article.
It’s also been shown that relaxation therapy has been helpful in chronic pain patients. (PM)
And chronic pain patients have shown to reduce their physician visits by 36 percent after starting a meditation practice. (MBMI)
So if you are struggling with chronic pain… You may want to put down the pills and pick up the “Oms” it might just prove more effective in the long run.
How Do You Get Started?
At this point, many of you are probably thinking “More focus, improved health, stronger sexual performance, and a better quality of life? Sign me up!”
How does one actually get started with meditation?
How can you select a practice that is right for you?
Read on my friend, read on.
Different Types of Meditation
Now you say you are ready to start.
First things first. Find a type that works for you. There are many types of meditation – including moving meditations where you need not remain still in one position.
1. Basic Mindfulness Mediation
“If you are doing mindfulness meditation, you are doing it with your ability to attend to the moment.” ~Daniel Goleman
In mindfulness meditation, you remain in the present moment and simply give full notice to arising emotions, physical sensations and thoughts without judging them.
You are simply the observer.
Such meditation liberates the person from attachment. Sam Harris, in his 2014 book “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion” recommends the Tibetan Buddhist practice of Dzogchen, aimed at attaining the natural primordial state or natural condition for the sake of liberation.
2. Religious Meditation
Christian meditation is a form of prayer in which a structured attempt is made to become aware of and reflect upon the revelations of God.
Eastern flavored meditations such as Transcendental Meditation or Kriya Yoga Meditation are types of “mantra” meditation in which you repeat a calming word, sound, or phrase to displace distracting thoughts.
3. Movement Based Meditation
Such practices include Hatha Yoga (linking physical postures with the breath) and Tai Chi (an intentional Chinese martial art). However, as long as the mind is steady and singular, you could be participating in meditation while gardening, walking, dancing, or even working out in the gym.
Your body can move, as long as the mind focuses and calms.
Some Tips on Getting Started
In order to get started on the right feet (or right seat), you will want some basic tips when you first start your practice.
Courtesy of ZenHabits.net, here are 12 tips:
- Start with sitting for just two minutes.
- Do it first thing each morning.
- Don’t get caught up in the how — just do.
- Check in with how you’re feeling.
- Count your breaths.
- Come back when your mind wanders.
- Develop a loving attitude.
- Don’t worry too much that you’re doing it wrong.
- Don’t worry about clearing the mind.
- Stay with whatever arises.
- Find a community.
- Smile when you’re done.
You now know how to meditate.
At this point, you are probably chomping at the bit to get started with your first meditative practice.
And while I want to encourage you to pursue this practice with vim and vigor, I also want to leave you with a brief word of counsel.
Meditation is about the journey and the practice… Not perfection.
The first few times that you try and quiet your mind, you will suck.
And that’s ok.
Your goal here is to improve your life and regain control of your mind and emotions, there’s no need to be perfect or become a Zen master.
So enjoy this new practice. Make it part of your morning routine and have fun with it.
It might just change your life.
This article originally was originally published on KnowledgeForMen.com and has been reposted with permission.