I fudged up, guys. I fudged up bad. I told you that I would be providing regular updates as to how my LSD
habit experiment is going, and here we are at the end of it and I’ve only given one measly update. I was so caught up in sharing my perspective on early retirement that I failed to take the time to write about the meditation exercises. With that said, I actually demonstrated a fair amount of discipline in practicing meditation on a daily basis. Since the experiment kicked off 37 days ago, I’ve meditated 34 times, and 32 of those sessions took place within half an hour of waking up. That’s lot of numbers. I’ll ease up with that nonsense.
What I Learned
When I introduced this experiment I mentioned that I was expecting the following results:
- Improve my ability to focus on work related tasks
- Improve my sleep quality
- Allow my brain to function at a higher level for longer periods of time
- Healthier reactions to mental stress and anxiety
To be blunt and brief – I didn’t achieve any of those results. In reviewing my notes from the last five weeks, its most accurate to say that the four areas where I was expecting improvement all stayed relatively constant. The results I thought to have achieved after the first week was surely just the Placebo Effect claiming another victim.
In reflecting on the experiment, I’m not overly surprised that one month of daily meditation didn’t lead to significant change in my quality of like. Here’s why:
1. Started the experiment with a solid baseline
Here’s the thing – I was fairly satisfied with my pre-experimental levels in each of the areas I was hoping to improve in. If those were areas of clear struggle in my life, I would be more surprised and frustrated that I didn’t experience a significant improvement. Imagine if there was a 1-10 scale on which one could rate their quality in all of the areas I mentioned – its my opinion that an individual could improve from 1 to 7 within a month of disciplined meditation. However, it may take six or eight or ten months, to improve from 7 to 8.
2. Meditation is about the process, not the results
The fact that I went into this experiment with a goal in mind is actually counterproductive. As my meditation guide Andy consistently says, meditation is about the process – its about the journey. If you go into the exercise focusing only on your goals, you will fail. This is why meditation is both fascinating and infuriating to me. In both my personal and professional life, focusing on results/deliverables is not only commonplace, its necessary to be considered successful. Switching that focus to the journey instead of the destination is challenging for someone who has a mind conditioned the way mine is.
3. Meditation can take a lifetime to master
Meditation is not something that one can master in a month or year or even ten years. The concepts and practices that Andy introduces in the guided sessions can take a lifetime to master. The mind cannot be trained the same way muscles are, and the primary reason for that is the amount of harmful shit (that’s an industry term) that our brains are exposed to. While it takes discipline, a body builder building can protect his or her muscles from damn near any substance or activity that can harm them. The mind is much more difficult to shelter. And for that reason, the mind is ever-changing in both positive and negative ways. Unless you adopt a hermit lifestyle in which you’re able to hide your brain from the rest of the world, information is going to be consumed that can have adverse affects on mental training. For that reason – the one step backward, two steps forward nature of mind-training, is why meditation can take a lifetime to master.
Even though I haven’t noticed a significant increase in the quality of my life since the outset of this experiment, I’m going to continue practicing meditation daily and strongly recommend the practice to anyone and everyone. As I mentioned when I introduced this experiment, one of the reasons I’m so attracted to meditating is because its supported both quantitatively and qualitatively by science.
The following are some of the things that researches at Headspace have found about meditation:
“Meditation activates the rest and digest part of our nervous system helping with stress management.”
“After just 11 hours of meditation, practitioners had structural changes in the part of the brain involved in monitoring our focus and self-control.”
“Increased mindfulness through meditation improved marital quality and communication.”
Also, as I’ve said before, a lot of individuals who I strongly admire have adopted meditation as part of there daily routine. Its such an obvious common practice among these individuals that it seems silly to not make it part of my own lifestyle. Lastly, as a cognitive being, I feel I owe it to myself (and to those around me) to optimize my mental processes in such a way that I can live as peaceful and loving of a life as possible. It goes without saying that I’ve bought into the theory that meditation is one of the vehicles that can make such a lifestyle a reality.
There’s also this:
Preach, Mr. Lama.