Note: This post was drafted on 3/12.
Today marks the 300th day of meditation in a row for me. Other than maybe brushing my teeth, this is probably the longest streak I’ve had of any habit that wasn’t essential for my existence.
At the 200 day mark, I was doubting the effectiveness of meditation for me. I could notice some instances of being able to silent the mind and be more thoughtful, but I was questioning the value. So I decided to read some more books on meditation to see if changing up the practice might help. (I had been doing the same routine I learned on the Headspace app up until then).
I read the book Practicing Mindfulness, which details about 100 different ways to meditate. There’s a lot of woo-woo speak out there and thankfully this book is not that. It’s practical, thoughtful, and extremely well-written.
I’m also almost finished with the classic book Wherever You Go, There You Are. This is a mixture of mindfulness philosophy and practical exercises. One of the things it helped me understand is the difference between concentration and being mindful. Up until this book I was mostly concentrating. On a sound, on nothingness, on a body sensation. That’s necessary but it’s not being mindful and watching your thoughts. The book also had some meditation techniques, such as Mountain Meditation, that I had not heard about and were useful.
I found both books useful to my practice which resulted in me being more of a believer in the power of meditation.
Yesterday shortly after meditating and going on my walk I came to a very valuable realization – that I could do the Eureka Room test in my house and I don’t need to find and build a test room. I had been concerned with bothering the neighbors but the reality is that I only need a handful of paid visits a week to know I have a winning idea. Once I have that proof I can move on to a “real” space. This change saves me countless hours and thousands of dollars and gets me quicker to what matters: making and testing experiences.
I credit this realization to meditation. The calmness allowed me to reflect more deeply and my subconscious was able to piece things together: the loss of the Portland calendar, the fact that I won’t really be bothering neighbors to do a little at my housefirst, the loss of income last year, the risks involved going forward and the planning fallacy (thinking things are easier than they are). It all sort of came together into this wonderfully elegant solution: Do it in my house until I have proof it is a success or until it becomes an issue for my neighbors.
I also believe the meditationpractive has made me a better listener to my friends and their worries, woes, dreams, thoughts, and needs. I find myself just listening when maybe last year I would have jumped in and said something. Now I allow silence so that they can fill the space instead of me. If I do talk, I ask questions. I’m surprised how satisfying I find this. Because I like to talk and show that I’m smart. But somehow this is rewarding and I feel smart knowing that I’m almost certainly helping more by getting them to reflect and work it out on their own with my gentle guidance.
Part of me (ego) keeps saying things like “sure, you can let them figure it out for themselves but you won’t get any credit that way! Just tell them what they need so you can look smart!” Sometimes I give in to this urge. But I have this sort of weird hope that my work and character are being noticed even if I’m not saying nearly as much.
It’s almost a fun challenge. If they were games they would be called things like “Hey Mike how long can you keep shutted up?”, “Don’t touch the awkward silence!”, and “Look for where they are tiptoeing around what really matters – and then ask them about it with kindness”.
I am seriously surprised at how I can even be interested in playing these games, but I am. I can feel these games are both out of character and extending my character. I would not have played them a year ago. Because I didn’t have enough to pony up table stakes. What are the table stakes? Being mindful. Thank you, meditation.