Tag Archives: meditation

Go Your Own Way

Must resist temptation to link to Fleetwood Mac video…

Meditation - 300 Days Straight

On Monday this week, I hit a meditative milestone when I completed my 300th consecutive day of checking in to the Headspace app. Choosing to turn up and practice something every day for 300 days straight has proved to be a fascinating experiment, I’m learning loads about myself and others in relation to presence, honesty, kindness, distraction and more.

A few months ago I came to a decision that I would check in and meditate every day for a full year – 365 days straight. This remains my intention, and from now on I’ll be going it alone. Headspace has been incredibly useful for me – the app helped me find my way into the initially uncomfortable silence meditation brings, and it encouraged me to keep going. The idea of an extending continuous streak of daily practice is motivating, and the occasional gift of free membership to pass to others helps too.

The frequent slow downloads and the clunky desktop app are much less useful though. As I sit waiting 25 minutes plus for a session to download, I contemplate – not so much about meditation in itself, more about the way I’m doing it. Or maybe having it done to me?

Things are changing. I’ve gone from finding the voice of the narrator welcoming and encouraging, to something mildly irritating and patronising. The idea of logging a continuous streak has shifted from something motivating to something obligatory. I feel like I’m being gamed – and these feelings are getting in the way of my practice.

I believed that one day not too far into the future, I would be sharing with you (slightly smugly perhaps?), a 365 days badge, and this is no longer the case. I made it to 300 – I’m having a fascinating journey and for it to continue usefully and enjoyably, I need to go my own way from now. Thanks Headspace – it’s been fun.

Experiments in Wellbeing – Meditation

Meditation. Noun, often used by tree huggers as an excuse for sitting around and not doing any work. Get a job you slacker.

Love and Peace

I used to think meditation was a waste of time, and I held this point of view despite never having tried it. As part of carrying out the 100HappyDays experiment, I began to appreciate the positive impact of slowing down enough, each and every day, to spot something that prompted happiness in me. I became conscious that in order to do this – I needed to let go of many distractions and thoughts, just long enough to spot and record whatever it was that made a difference that day.

I really enjoyed 100HappyDays, and the small change in behaviour I needed to make in order to complete it (79% of people who start the experiment fail to complete it – many citing ‘too busy’ as their excuse), so as I continued with my wellbeing experiment, I decided to get over myself and my negative thoughts, and expand on that slowing down and letting go sensation. It’s time to give meditation a try.

I chose Headspace as a tool to help me meditate, and I’ve been using it for almost 300 consecutive days now. Here’s a little of what I am experiencing.

What Makes A Habit?

I didn’t want to experiment with this half heartedly, I felt that would be making it too easy for the cynic in me which had dismissed the idea so strongly without every having tried it. Yet before I started with meditation, I wondered: how will I manage to find the time to do it every day? Turns out – it’s easy. You just do it. Whatever you decide is important – you will make time for. ‘I’m too busy’ simply means ‘this is not important enough to me right now’, and I am currently not too busy to meditate.

Having got this far, and whilst acknowledging that I’m probably being gamed by the Headspace app (complete xxx consecutive days and get a cookie), I’m curious to see if I can keep this daily practice of meditation up every day for a year. I haven’t yet found the answer to the question, ‘What makes a habit?’ and the longer I continue with this practice, the less interested I am to find out. What I am learning is that when you turn up every day to practice something, things start to change. I don’t think I am getting any ‘better’ at meditation as such, but I do think other things are getting better as a result of this reposted practice.

Distraction

Distraction is everywhere. Even as I thought about how to begin to write these sentences, I popped over to Facebook, just in case anyone had posted anything interesting since the last time I looked, about ten minutes ago. I’ve always had a niggling conviction that I am easily distracted, and through meditation, I’ve begun to experience just how widespread and unhelpful that distraction can be at times. Having had my suspicions about distraction confirmed, I am in a better position to deal with them.

Acceptance

I frequently experience things such as loneliness, frustration, anger, sadness. I frequently experience things such as joy, humour and love too, yet for some reason I wrestle with the negative side of my mixed feelings more than the positive. You can’t have one without the other – I’ve always known that, yet I can struggle to accept the flow of these conflicting and contradictory thoughts and feelings. Through meditation I am learning to accept. Accept myself, accept and even enjoy the conflict which previously bothered me.

Other Stuff

I’m becoming increasingly mindful of the impact I have on others around me and I’m seeking to involve them in my thoughts, and how I can benefit them from being more mindful. I’m learning to go gently. Julie Drybrough recently tweeted a very touching memorial to her late father on the anniversary of his death – in it she used the words going gently. Her short, sweet tribute moved me and I’ve since been more aware of incorporating going gently into my practice. I want to move away from using Headspace and manage my meditation on my own for a while. It’s been incredibly useful, and it can be flaky at times. Waiting 25 minutes to get the day’s session to download is not always conducive to the act of meditating!

More to follow…some day.

Experiments in Wellbeing – Presence, Honesty and Kindness

I was fortunate to be a part of the Workstock team at this year’s Workplace Trends conference. Workstock is a ‘pop up’ event within an event. It’s the brainchild of Neil Usher and this year – Workstock was a series of pecha kuchas (roller coaster presentations using a fixed format of 20 slides each on screen for 20 seconds), loosely based around wellbeing. Woven around each short presentation was an excellent story about Wilf and his wellbeing journey, told by Neil. My talk was on meditation. I shared with you some of the science I drew on a few days ago, now here is some of the art.

Don’t Panic!!

Don't Panic!!

I began by reassuring people this talk was not about tree hugging, kaftans and the like. It took me a long time to overcome my prejudices around meditation, and whilst peace and love are helpful – they’re not compulsory.

Time Stands Still

Time Stands Still

This talk is as much about presence, about nowness, as it is anything else. I used a lyric from Time Stand Still by Rush, one of my favourite bands to help set the scene. I like the juxtaposition of the band name and the song title.

Time stands still, I’m not looking back but I want to look around me now. Time stands still, see more of the people and the places that surround me now.

Weapons of Mass Distraction

Weapons

We are so readily and easily distracted that it’s hard to be clear on what’s happening right now – yet that clarity is vital to us in our work.

The Science Bit

The Science Bit

I used this picture to tee up some of the physiological measurement I’ve been undertaking on myself, to show the differences of how I am at work, and in other scenarios. Click here to see the data which followed.

Persistence

Persistence

When trying something new it’s important to stick at it – often we bail out on a new idea or exploration too soon. When I gave this talk, I was at 275 consecutive days of meditation and counting…

Be Here Now

Be Here Now

As I continue to experiment with mediation I find it informs the way I wish to work, and it resonates with my Principles of Work, one of which is about being fully engaged in the process as it emerges.

Calm

Calm

There are times during meditation when I experience great calm. I expected this, and though I don’t find it that often, when I do it is hugely relaxing and enjoyable.

Fragility

Fragile

Something I did not expect to experience through meditation, is a strong sense of my own fragility. In the quiet of my own mind, I observe my own shortcomings more clearly. This experience is proving hugely valuable in helping me think about honesty and kindness.

Honesty

Honesty

In my work, I often see blame being apportioned, when taking responsibility and ownership for what happens next is actually far more important and useful. Through my meditation I am learning to observe my own performance much more clearly. This clarity is enabling me to acknowledge where I can improve and state this to my clients. My choice to expose what some might see as a vulnerability, seems to be working as an invitation for others to respond similarly too. This means we are moving from a backward looking sharing of blame, to a forward looking sense of owning and sharing responsibility, and taking action too. When I play these things out initially, people sometimes say to me ‘it sounds like you’re taking this personally’. I reply, ‘Yes, in so far as our conversation enables me to take my share of responsibility, I am both investing in this, and taking it personally.’ If what we do together doesn’t evoke a sense of curiosity and feeling, a sense of connection, then why are we doing it?

Kindness

Kindness

I used to think that kindness was basically doing good things for others. I still think that, and there’s more to kindness too. I try to be kind, and sometimes I bear grudges. Sometimes I don’t like other people, often I don’t like me. Jealousy and doubt seem to spin on opposite sides of the coin of reasoning here. I’m learning that I have a hard time being kind to myself, somehow I need to improve the gentle art of letting go.

Presence
Focus
Persistence
Calm
Fragile
Honest
Kind