I grew up seeing my mother light a candle, open her prayer book and meditate every morning, but I didn’t try it myself until I was well into my adult years. When I finally dropped into the practice, it felt like finding a peaceful place to rest after wandering around in the wilderness of my brain. It provided the clarity I never knew was available to me.
I can rush through life if I’m not careful. I may accomplish a lot on the daily “to-do list,” but I also miss the subtle changes, messages, and opportunities going on both around and inside me. When I have a regular meditation practice, the calming, focused effect on my life is immediate. I find I am able to really dive into one (and only one!) task at a time. I am more creative, confident, and a-tuned to my intuition. If you can’t drop into the heart of your own creative soul, you can’t really create anything, can you?
Why is it so hard to stop and sit still for 5 or 10 minutes? What are we afraid we’ll find? Even though I know all the benefits, I still struggle with making this a priority, and sometimes days go by when I haven’t meditated. I start to feel anxious and edgy, don’t sleep as well, and find myself trying to “think” my way out of a creative block or work challenge. Then I remember to stop and sit, and instantly feel better. It may not provide an immediate answer to my problem “that’s it!”, but once my mind is quiet, clear thoughts rise to the surface and I am absolutely more focused and productive.
If you are new to the practice, the easiest place to start is to download one of the many available meditation apps (Breathe, Calm, Insight Timer), put on some headphones, sit down and just listen. The most important thing to remember – and this is important so LISTEN UP – is that the goal of meditating is not to stop thinking. This is nearly impossible and unfortunately, that misconception keeps many people from even trying. When I suggest meditation to someone, the response I most frequently hear is “I can’t meditate. I can’t sit still and I could never stop thinking.” That, my friend, is exactly why you should meditate, to learn how to both sit still and calm your mind. It’s called a practice for a reason.
I also recommend Dan Harris’s book “10% Happier” if you need further convincing that anyone can meditate.
No matter where you are in your life, business, or creative identity, I am confident there is a place for meditation in your day. My personal bias is that designers and creatives might benefit the most from meditating. We are constantly under pressure to be inspired and come up with new ideas. It can be intense to be creative on the spot, and when those ideas don’t just “come” to you, you feel like you’ve lost your edge.
So the next time you are crammed up against a deadline and freaking out, feel like you have no new ideas and are at your wit’s end, take a seat. You never know what you might find when you get off the hamster wheel of life, quiet your mind and just breathe.