If you follow me and catch my infrequent blathering via my blog, you will know that I have long been intrigued with mindfulness and meditation. In fact, I enjoy reading about folks who biohack their bodies or try to find ways to reach their potential via regular unending improvement. This came about largely by way of reading Tim Ferris and listening to his, and related podcasts. One of Ferris' earlier works was The Four Hour Body (closely related to the Four Hour Workweek) that explored the most efficient and effective means of self-improvement. I enjoyed his writing style, and his way of self-experimentation and have followed his work since. Some of it makes me laugh and shake my head. But I have found a number of relatively easy and effective improvements. After reading his earlier work, I then read Ferris' book, "Tribe of Mentors," in which Tim questions various leading performers in different areas, including business, finance, entertainment and sports. I was struck by some of the common threads found across the spectrum of the interviews and one that jumped off the page to me over and over was the use of mindfulness or meditation by these high performers and the importance that they placed on the methods.
Being one that always had a difficult time being still, I looked for a guided meditation series or something similar that would allow me to easily try mindfulness to see if it had any impact. In my search, I came across, "Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World." If you follow me, you will recall me initially reviewing the early chapter of the book here.
I recently completed Week Four: Moving Beyond the Rumor Mill. This week reinforced the concept of thoughts as events that can come and go, rather than the truth. It further discussed the notion that your mind can hear, see or think a thought and start your body down a road that you have been down before, and that isn't always a good thing. Your mind can "think" it knows what is going on but at times, can be running on past memories than the actual event that in fact is occurring. In being mindful and "present" you have the ability to break those old connections and be more in tune with the here and now. This provides you peace in a crazy world and allows you to enjoy the moment as it is, rather than letting thoughts and memories cloud your experience. The practice this week included a brief eight minute guided meditation called "sounds and thoughts" that walks you through hearing the sounds around you...rather simple. But the meditation encourages you to really listen to the sound as it is happening and to avoid letting your mind tell a story. Recall, this book points you to a series of online recorded conversations that allow you to listen to the meditations on your computer or mobile device. For instance, rather than hearing a sound in the distance and letting my mind say, "truck", followed by memories of trucks, imagined trucks and cars, and related thoughts....I simply listen to the sound as though it is the first time I have heard it. I listen to the quality, pitch, tone, rythem and quality of the sound and avoid the tendency to think about what it is.
The first few days were difficult, as I found my mind immediately picturing the source of the sound. But gradually I was able to shift into a mode of simply focusing on and hearing the sounds as they were, at that moment. Honestly, it was about four or even five days in before I could really make any headway but I genuinely felt a sense of pease when able to do so. I felt as though my mind was finally resting and not working overtime every second. I didn't find nirvana....just a peace and quiet that has always been difficult for me.
I have enjoyed the book immesnsely. Have I been mentally or spiritually transported to some other mystical place? No. But no doubt, I have found some moments of peaceful enjoyment of the here and how. And, I undoubtedly have discovered that the practice of mindfulness is something I will continue, as I can sincerely feel the benefits.
I will write again in a few weeks after having completed further practices to let you know how it is going. If you have had similar experiences, or wish to recommend a resource for others please feel free to leave a comment.
Thanks for reading!