This one has been at the back of my mind for a while. There are innumerable resources showing why meditation is beneficial: Harvard Business Review, Academy of Management, AmSci, the list goes on. The principle reason meditation is so beneficial to health and productivity is that it forces you to exercise your ability to resist urges and focus. It’s a way to deliberately practice increasing your willpower, and having a high amount of willpower that you can apply throughout your day is incredibly valuable.
What makes it even better is that meditation appears to lower your required amount of sleep, so you hardly lose any time (maybe even gain time) by adopting it as a daily habit. With all of that in mind, it seems like an ideal new habit to develop.
I’ve never meditated before. Like I said, I’ve considered it, but never tried to make it part of my routine. Looking at resources on how to start meditating, many people recommend shooting for 20-30 minutes a day, but starting with that amount would likely drive me crazy. I think what makes more sense is to go with the Harvard Business Review recommendation of starting with 5 minutes. My immediate reaction to that is “5 minutes seems easy,” and changing a habit is a lot easier when you make it seem easy.
Next is the when. I’d like to meditate at the beginning of the day, because the overwhelming opinion seems to be that that’s the best time to do it. This presents a problem though: do I do it before or after working out? And do I do it at home or at work?
If I were to do it after working out I’d have to do it at the office, but that doesn’t seem like the best environment for it… I think what I’ll try to do is insert it into my morning routine before working out. This turns my mornings into:
- Wake up
- Make bed, collect things for work
- Head to work
I think that I should still be able to get out the door by 6:45, but I’ll have to see. This may warrant moving my wake-up time to earlier than 5:30. I’m also a tad worried about falling back asleep…
The type of meditation I’ll be starting is what’s called “mindfulness of the breath,” and I’m interested in it because of its focus on developing concentration and willpower. In short, you focus solely on your breathing. As other thoughts enter your mind you acknowledge them, but let them pass back out of thought as you continue your focus on your breathing (Thank you to Reddit’s Meditation Community for your resources).
What I’m curious to see is if adding meditation in the mornings changes:
- My productivity or “power hours” throughout the day
- Frequency of being in flow
- My stress/”rushed-ness”
- How much coffee I feel like I need
- How much sleep I feel like I need
I’m a bad scientist and haven’t established a baseline for any of these, so any results I perceive will be purely anecdotal and likely influenced by the confirmation bias, but I’m still curious to see if I’m cognizant of any changes. It may also require upping the amount of time I’m meditating before I notice anything.
I think this should be another one that is self-reinforcing. Most good habits are. The only potential pitfalls I see are if I:
- Don’t notice any benefits from it and stop
- Fall back asleep while meditating
But I think these are avoidable. If I’m falling asleep I’ll move it to a bit later in my schedule, and if I don’t see any results right away I think that will more likely be because of the short amount of time that I’m doing it for initially.
If you currently meditate or have ever been in the habit of meditating, I’d love to hear about your experiences either in the comments section below or through Twitter. You could share what got you into it, why you kept going, or any tips or tricks for getting started.