The Practice of Meditation

Meditate on Kayak

Last week, I wrote about the importance of solitude – and then I was able to go practice it on Monday, Memorial Day, as I went for a lone kayak on the lake and ended up in a quiet corner for almost an hour. It was peaceful to sit still and be mindful of the sights and sounds of nature. I took the time to reflect, meditate, and pray – and felt so rejuvenated after. The feature image for this post is a photo from my kayak outing.  

A beneficial activity to go with solitude is the practice of meditation. I’m relatively new to meditation, so I will provide you with helpful advice and comments from my experience.  

Release Meditation Technique 

This technique was developed (or probably adapted) by author/speaker Brendon Burchard. I have enjoyed learning from his books and YouTube channel, so I decided to give this technique a try. For the past few weeks, I have been working on developing this practice – but (being honest) I need to improve my consistency and length of meditation. It is a work in progress – but, as he says, the most important thing is to start trying and steadily improve until it is a habit.  

I always benefit from breaking away from work/life for a bit and forcing myself to be quiet and meditate. I know that it can be challenging since we are already so busy – how in the world can I spare 10-20 minutes to just sit and “accomplish nothing.” The secret… is that you accomplish more and you are happier during the rest of your time when you take time out to be in solitude and meditate. 

Brendon Burchard’s Method Explained

Brendon explains the benefits and method of the technique in the below link. There is also a helpful video where he talks through the method and then actually coaches you through a meditation session.  

Link: https://www.success.com/the-easiest-meditation-technique-youll-ever-try/ 

Brendon has you repeat the word “release” – but personally, I sometimes choose other words that are more meaningful to me. Words such as “Jesus” or “alive” bring more spiritual depth to the session. As a Christian, I also always start it with a prayer and invitation for the Spirit to speak or make the time meaningful.  

Music for Meditation

If I’m able to, sometimes I also play ambient music in the background while I meditate. A few of my recent favorites are below. You can probably find them on streaming services. (I use Amazon Prime Music) 

  • Sigur Ros – Liminal Sleep 
  • Future of Forestry – Union 
  • Lambert – Sweet Apocalypse 

Religious/Spiritual Meditation Practices 

Entire books have been written on this topic – but I wanted to mention a couple things on this topic before I close this post. 

Christian meditation is not mindlessness or “emptying of the self.” It is active contemplation that includes Scriptural reflection and prayer. It also can involve active listening for Christians who believe that God can speak with them. We often cloud our mind with so much noise that God’s voice or at least His guiding “nudge” does not break through.  

I have Hindu and Muslim friends who have different meditation practices. If you come from another faith background – please comment and share your insights with this community. 

Application Questions:  

  1. If you have engaged in meditation – reflect on how it has been beneficial for you. Please share! 
  1. If you have not, will you take Brendon’s (and my) challenge to give it a serious attempt for at least 10 days?  

Photo: By Daniel David on his Samsung phone on May 25, 2020 on Lake Athens – in Texas.

Thinking Leaders – Solitude for your Mind to Work

Mountain Solitude

Today I would like to discuss the fourth and final leadership principle in the last chapter of The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. I find these principles to be very helpful and practical in my personal season of life – but also for the season we’re in as a nation. We need to develop as leaders to come out of this pandemic with more strength than we had before because the challenges will be that much bigger! 

Principle 4: Take time out to confer with yourself and tap your supreme thinking power. 

Many of us, myself included, have the problem of crowding our minds with busy schedules and distractions. If we’re always jumping from one thing to the next or allowing (or inviting?) screens and noise to fill our eyes and ears, then we never have time to think. Perhaps we believe that thinking is a waste of time. Or perhaps we are subconsciously afraid of our own thoughts and to feel alone in our minds. However, I think that many people simply haven’t been taught or encouraged to have a habit of intentionally stepping into solitude to think and meditate.  

Without spending time in thought, we become increasingly shallower and lack stability and firmness of purpose. We need to step away and think through big life decisions, consider our identity and purpose, and even to draw small(er) conclusions for work and relationships. 

My experience today:

Before writing this today, I decided to spend some time thinking and meditating – in order to practice what I was about to preach. BUT I WASTED some of that precious time by being distracted by something on my phone. I recognize that I need to break away from the distractions in order to be successful in this habit! 

Advice from Dr. Schwartz

David Schwartz provides very helpful advice as he supports his claim that “successful leaders tap their superpowers through being alone.” And he challenges us by saying that, “You can, too!” 

He reminds us that the great spiritual leaders – “Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammad, Gandhi” – spent much of their time alone in solitude. There is also the example that many of the evil masterminds of the last century spent time in prison before enacting their destructive plans (Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Marx). These examples, and many others, demonstrate to us that we have a powerful tool at our disposal (our mind) – but we must tap into it more often in order to reap the benefits it can provide.  

Okay! I get it. But HOW?

(glad you asked – here are some ideas) 

  1. Schwartz says to “resolve now to set aside some time each day (at least thirty minutes) to be completely by yourself.”  
    1. This could be directed – with a specific topic or problem in mind. 
    2. Or it could be undirected – and you simply allow your mind go where it wishes and you chase ideas to their conclusion.  
    3. This could be one block of time or split between different times – say the beginning and end of the work day.  
    4. It would be beneficial to journal your ideas and conclusions.
  1. Take a solitude day or weekend once a quarter (or year).
    1.  I found great benefit in removing distractions and being in solitude for an entire day on a few occasions. I had a plan for the time and resolved to make it productive – and it was great! 
  1. Meditation and Self-affirmation 
    1. These are practices I am stepping into more recently.  
    2. Too much to be said here – so I will provide more in a near future post. 

Questions: 

  1. Is this a practice that you would benefit from? Will you start today? 
  1. If you have practiced “solitude for the mind” before, please share your ideas and tips on the topic.  

Reference: Schwartz, David. “How to Think Like a Leader.” The Magic of Thinking Big. Touchstone, pp. 275-302.

Purchase: https://www.amazon.com/Magic-Thinking-Big-David-Schwartz/dp/1897384424/