Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes, 8s.
Podcast Length: 34 minutes, 12s (link to play podcast at bottom of post).
Meditation is a topic I often write about on ALOP. Why write about meditation on a productivity blog? Simple: a meditation practice will provide you with some remarkably practical benefits, chief among which is that it actually saves you time.
Most writers focus on the spiritual benefits of meditation. While I find these nice, they’re not why I meditate. I meditate because doing so makes me more productive. For every minute I spend meditating, I get many more back in how much more efficiently I’m able to work. I’m more focused, resilient, and calm. My mind is better organized, I have more energy, and I’m better able to relate to other people.
I’m confident you’ll experience these same things if you decide to adopt a meditation practice.
In this week’s episode of Becoming Better, I’m joined by special guest co-host Jon Krop. In addition to being a good friend with a decent microphone, Jon is a Harvard-trained lawyer who teaches meditation at the largest law firms across the United States. He credits meditation with allowing him to turn his life around when he was studying to become a litigator, and is convinced a practice will help you out immensely, too. Having experienced many of the benefits, I’m inclined to believe him. In this week’s episode, we cover what meditation is and how to do it, and take turns sharing our favorite practical, tactical benefits of adopting a practice. In case you don’t have the time or inclination to listen to this one, here are the five practical benefits we dig into!
1. Meditation makes you happier. Once you begin meditating, you’ll notice that your quality of life drastically improves. According to Jon, this is the main reason that we should meditate—other benefits are subsidiary to this one. Negative emotions become less punishing. You experience more joy, and less suffering. You’re able to feel content regardless of your external circumstances. From the outside in, your life doesn’t change much. Meditation doesn’t change the things you experience. But it teaches you to relate to the things you experience differently: the bad things don’t affect you as much, and you’re able to savor the good things more fully.
2. Meditation gives you clarity of what’s important. One of my favorite benefits of meditation is how it helps us step back from the mental chatter in our head. This is a nice benefit in general, but it’s especially powerful during stressful times. When ^$% hits the fan at work, you’re able to focus. When the water tank starts leaking in your house, you’re able to calm down and take care of things more easily. During stressful times, the mental chatter in our head can obscure the way we perceive things. Meditation helps us become one step removed from this mental chatter, so we can maintain clarity of what’s important.
3. Meditation makes you kinder, and a better person. I’ll never forget something that my now-wife said to me during my productivity experiment to meditate for 35 hours in a week (while being as productive as possible). While we were chatting over dinner, she said to me, “You know what, Chris, I’ve never felt more loved as I do right now, with you doing this weird experiment.” As David Augsburger, a Baptist minister and author, has put it: “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” Meditation makes you compassionate, loving, and kind. It also better equips you to be of service to people, because you’re more focused and effective—there’s more room to be there for others. Meditation doesn’t just let you give more of yourself to your work; it lets you give more of yourself to the people in your life.
4. Meditation makes you more focused. Studies show that our mind wanders for 47% of the day. In other words, we’re focused on what’s in front us just 53% of the time. Let’s say you’re awake for 16 hours. That equals 7.5 hours you spend unfocused each day so any amount of improvement in how well you’re able to focus can save you a ton of time. Thankfully, meditation improves the quality of your attention in this way. Let’s say that through practicing meditation, you’re able to improve the number just a bit—to 37% instead of 47%. That increase alone leads you to be focused for 1.6 more hours each and every day.
5. Meditation makes you less dependent on your most addictive devices. Some tactics for dealing with distraction are pretty helpful. Putting your phone screen in “greyscale mode” (which turns your phone’s screen black-and-white), disabling notifications, and setting screen time limits all help. But these solutions are external. The best internal strategy for making your mind less reliant on digital distraction is to make your mind less stimulated (if you’re curious, I chat more about this idea in a recent talk). The best strategy for making your mind less stimulated? Practice meditation.
Hope you enjoy the episode!