No Shortcuts - Does Meditation Actually Help?

I've been meditating off and on for years.  My dad used to be very into it when I was growing up, so was exposed to it......and felt like it was super weird for a long time.  Something that the Berkeley people would do while wearing odd colored robes and chanting.  Meditation is has become more and more mainstream over the years and I've been doing it off and on for 10+ years. 

I recently read that book about how an ABC news host went all in on meditation after having multiple panic attacks.  His book is called 10% Happier and that's exactly how much he thinks meditation helps.  When I think about my experience with meditation I have to agree.  

I took a class in business school called Fostering Creativity and we meditated in a circle to start every class.  It was at first super awkward and then I came to look forward to it.  The premise of the class is that everyone wants to be creative, but can rarely achieve it because life gets in the way.  Traffic.  Work stress.  Long hours.  Lack of sleep.  Too much screen time.  Running the kids around.  Lack of exercise.  Poor food choices.  How can you clear your mind to be creative when that is your every waking minute??

That struck a chord with me because I like to stay busy.  I like to be running around all the time, but really WANT to be creative.  If you can't take 10 minutes to chill out, then how do you expect your brain to spit out breakthrough ideas?  

I read another book recently called Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris.  He talks with 100+ extremely successful people across all industries.  My biggest takeaway was LOTS of successful people meditate.  And many do transcendental meditation, which is 20+ minutes of deep meditation a day.  There is something to meditation if that many insanely successful do it daily!

Here are the benefits that I have gotten from meditation.  

Just Slow Down!  If you are just getting started you will find it almost impossible to sit and breath for 5 minutes.  It'll feel like hours.  You'll get frustrated, but also realize that it is crazy that you can't still for 5 min.  You want to check your phone.  You'll think you're getting nothing out of it.  Stay strong and keep trying it.  The practice will soon click and you'll sit there calm.  You'll appreciate the quiet and stillness. 

Clear the Monkey Mind.  Your mind is all over the place.  Constantly thinking.  It's overwhelmed.  It's running a marathon not running a straight line.  It's zig- zagging and often in an all out sprint.  Stressed about a work project.  Wondering when you can pick up the dry cleaning.  Upset about the tone of voice someone used with you.  Stressed because you're stuck in traffic.  Can the mind just switch to a nice walk?   Meditation allows your mind to just TRY to think about one thing.  Your breath.   

Prevent Getting Overwhelmed.  I remember I had a really hard time at work for a year.  I looked at my Calm app streak and I did it every single day for a year.  I felt like I needed to just rest my mind because all I was thinking about was this work drama.  Mad at what someone did to me.  Wondering if I was smart enough to make it.  Thinking about whether I needed to find another job.  What would that job be?  Where would it be?  What would that mean for the relationship I was in?  My mind was snowballing a bad incident and it was getting out of control.  Stopping to just calm my mind helped me from going crazy. 

Meditation is not a miracle maker.  It helps though.  I think showing your commitment and control over your mind also gives you some confidence.  If you can calm your mind for 10 minutes, then what else can you do?   Workout?  Read more?  It's 10 minutes a day and makes you 10% happier.  It's worth the investment!