Self Promotion Around Meditation

So I’m having a little dilemma. I think I disagree with Mr. Kabat-Zinn himself (is that allowed??). I’m currently reading ‘Wherever You Go, There You Are’ by Jon Kabat-Zinn. The book that continually shows up on all searches around mindfulness. I dived in last week and it’s an easy but thought provoking read. A page takes 30 seconds to read, but makes me ponder in search of the true meaning for thirty minutes. Now to the dilemma.

I’m not sure what to make of this paragraph from the book: “So, when you notice yourself building up an image of invincibility, or strength, or special knowledge, or wisdom based on your meditative experiences...and you start talking a lot about meditation in a way that is self promotional and inflationary, it’s a good idea to bring mindfulness to that mindset and to ask yourself whether you are running from your vulnerability, or perhaps from grief you may be carrying, or from fear of some sort”.

Being a new blogger/instagrammer/person who talks about meditation, my goal is to make meditation more approachable and easier for people to incorporate into their lives. To do this, I think the best way is to share my experiences, whether positive or negative. Now, I can totally understand why self promotion in certain cases would not make sense. It wouldn’t be the greatest idea for me to wake up every morning and tell the world about how awesome I feel after my meditation sessions (or would that be ok too?). I don’t plan on doing anything of the sort, because that behaviour implies meditation is a magic pill that provides immediate happiness. Obviously, there are no shortcuts, and I have no interest in coming across like a dodgy supplements brand promising overnight results. However, I do believe it’s useful for the audience to see another person’s journey and point of view. It’s valuable to see that starting out was difficult, that this person isn’t a monk, that meditation isn’t actually fancy or mystic. In the same vein, it should be fine to express that practicing consistently brings about positive results (if that in fact occurred).

Wait a minute, isn’t that the premise of every book or publication around mindfulness or meditation anyway? That there are benefits to meditation and that's why we should do it? Even though the author is not explicitly gloating about the benefits experienced personally, to me it's understood that they existed. Otherwise they would just be talking about experiences that didn't happen to them? Maybe I’m zooming in too much on this and overthinking it. It's only ONE paragraph, there wasn't a whole lot more said about it, but it resonated with me! For the record, it's a great book and I have much respect for the man. 

I guess the conclusion (for now) is that I’m comfortable sharing my experiences with the world as long as my intent is in the right place and that I only put out the truth. The moment there is exaggeration or embellishment, I’m heading down a spiralling path. For now, I'll keep my 'image of invincibility' to myself :D

Any thoughts appreciated!


Having Trouble Sleeping?

So if you’re just waking up, today is National Sleep Day, as I’m sure nobody in the world knows! How is that a thing? (#JohnOliver anyone?). Jokes aside, sleep is sort of important. Ok, sleep is more than that. It is a fundamental human activity that takes up at least a quarter of our lives. The headspace blog tells me that a lack of sleep negatively alters a part of the brain called the amygdala (a·myg·da·la). It's the part of your brain that triggers a fight-or-flight response. Consistent meditation has been shown to reduce the size and activity of the amygdala. So, calming your mind might be your first step toward a good night’s sleep. Also, just quietly --> poor sleep over time can increase the likelihood of weight gain, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety disorders, and even a shorter lifespan. Pretty intense yeah?

I have historically been an average sleeper, mostly due to poor rituals before bed. I didn’t know rituals needed to be performed before bed. For me, the main things that kept me awake longer than necessary were:

  • Alcohol

  • Drinking water too close to sleep time

  • Phone in bed

  • Endless stream of thoughts

The first three are pretty self explanatory and relatively avoidable with some practice (ok not the phone...or the alcohol, but the other one). The last one however can be extremely difficult to avoid depending on what’s going on in your life. Work, relationships, breakfast, lunch, dinner, errands, march madness, breakfast. It’s a never ending stream of thoughts that our minds dart effortlessly between. Even a short 10 minute meditation before sleep where your mind settles a touch can help to knock you out quicker.

This is how I got into the habit of a daily practice in the first place. After only a few days of listening to various meditations, I was able to fall asleep in under 15 minutes (I rarely got to the end of the videos I was listening to, so I know). Not only that, I was sleeping in a much deeper state (less waking up in the middle of the night) and it was an enjoyable, blissful experience that I looked forward to every day.

This is the easiest way to see a huge life benefit from meditation at an early stage in the journey. Most people will do a meditation or two for 5 minutes and can be discouraged by no immediate results. Try this before bed time for a few days in a row and let me know how it went!

Link below for what I’m currently listening to before bed. I dare you try it and make it to the end without falling asleep! I have no affiliation with that channel, just something I stumbled upon. I still do this every day, and really look forward to the 10-20 minutes of stillness and calm before the 8 hours of restful sleep (ideally!).

Happy National Sleep Day :D

Starting is the Hardest Part

This is the first proper blog post I’ve shared with the universe! The subject matter is something I am passionate about, but also wary of how it can be perceived as something very ‘airy fairy’. Many people will have heard the word meditation and associated it with some esoteric nonsense practiced by hippies. As a 30 year old male, working in a bank in London, I couldn’t be further from that! Given that I’m a relatively normal kind of guy, I hope my journey and story resonates with people, and that it inspires more and more of the world to become mindful. For me, meditation has given me peace, happiness (and all the rest of the fuzzy words), but also just straight up time saving utility value as I'll share over time.

Various blogs and resources will cover the hard facts and unquestionable scientific research that highlight the benefits of consistent practice. From my perspective, I want to make meditation more approachable, relatable, and normal for the the Average Jo (/anne). To me, it’s still surprising that more people around the world have not begun to incorporate this into their daily lives. This site was created to raise awareness through a different voice and through a regular guys journey through it all. Please follow along! Also, I Instagram, if that’s how you roll :D

Lastly, Happy St. Patrick's Day!