Confession of a Fidgety Meditator

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Confession of a Fidgety Meditator
In my childhood home, each person was assigned a specific task. My dad’s job was to wash dishes after dinner. In retrospect, it’s not surprising the memory remains so vivid to me. I remember watching him as he lovingly handled the job every night. He was so methodical, never varying his routine. First he put on an apron, next he filled the sink with soap and water. (This was before most kitchens had automatic dishwashers.) Making sure the temperature was just right, he gently lowered each dish into its soapy place. The last step was setting out a drying towel on the counter. The preliminary work done, it was time to get on with the task at hand.

From the moment he completed the pre-routine, dad went on automatic. Today I realize that in his own way, this was his meditation — a time when he could be fully present. Nothing to think about except the rhythmic movement of lifting each dish out of the water, making sure it was clean, rinsing it off and placing it on the drying towel. His mind didn’t ask, “Hmm what’s my purpose here? What’s my next step? Can I quiet my mind? What is it I have to do after the dishes are done?” The calm radiated from his eyes, but I knew it was birthed in his heart. He was at total peace.

How can washing dishes put someone at peace and how can it be a meditation? By definition, meditation is continued or extended reflection or a fixing of thought on something… the ability to maintain a single-pointed concentration that promotes a sense of well-being. This labor of love was something he could count on. He knew if he did the preparation, he’d be in the “zone.” Same time every night, same place, same preparation, same results. Everyone knew this was dad’s quiet time, so nobody bothered him. Dad was perfectly happy in his domain, focused on the task and nothing more.

I’m not suggesting you hand wash dishes. I’m suggesting that meditation is not mysterious, it’s not a woo-woo religious experience. It’s simply being able to still the “monkey mind” long enough to relax into a feeling of well-being, not concerned about the outside world. There is no new skill to learn. You already know how. Ask yourself where in life you get that incredible feeling of peace and well-being that comes from one pointed intention and total relaxation. Is it painting, cooking, soaking in a hot tub, riding a bike, singing? Once you determine your particular nirvana, create a pre-meditation routine that will transport you into the same space — the one my dad was in every night after dinner, and use it before you “officially” meditate — at the same time, same place, every day. Just as the soap and water washed away the debris of our dinners, your meditation time will wash away the cares of the day.

How easy is it to start or restart a meditation practice? No need to leave the house. No worries about bad hair days, no class fee and no pre-requisite training. You can meditate anytime, day or night. Just boot up your laptop. How easy it that? Don’t put off giving yourself the gift of meditation. It will change your life dramatically. Find a series that is about to begin, register online and embark on a wondrous journey to your real self.

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Think or Act? A Deep Thinker’s Dilemma
I’m a master at complexity. I love to over think, ponder and explore. This has served me well — especially in business. I think through things. I find new options. I identify the optimal solution.

But at what point does my ability to think deeply hinder my results?

It depends. I’ve learned there’s a fine line, and it moves based on the situation. Here’s what I’ve figured out in my 37 years of being a deep thinker.

Always think deeply, if:

The penalty of failure is severe. When I started my first business, it was a big cash outlay and a notable sum of debt. Success wasn’t assured, but meticulous planning and thinking through every detail served me well. (And don’t let this prevent you from taking calculated risks… you have to in life!)

Consideration affects your mental or physical health. This includes losing sleep or a change in your mood. When this happens, your mind or body is trying to tell you something is off. This is a clue you need to think it through. For me this happens when I haven’t truly acknowledged the degree of risk is high for me.

You’re suspicious. This includes feeling like it’s too good to be true, I must be missing something or why would someone behave that way? I do my best to surround myself with people I trust and admire. I also try to be in situations that promote fairness. Of course, I can’t always do that and I have to listen to my gut. Interpret the people and situation around you. Slow down and be a deep thinker if something’s not right.

Take action or move on, if:

Your matter is trivial. Some things are just not worth it. I’ve been known to stand in my closet tirelessly debating in my head which tie to wear on an interview. The truth is I just need a conservative, professional tie and I don’t need to psychoanalyze how red is could be seen as more powerful but aggressive and blue could be seen as calm yet passive. Just pick the tie.

You’re reinventing the wheel. In business, if your team has decided don’t get left behind trying to make something good enough brilliant. In a past life, my team completed a targeting project and I was determined to make it perfect. I wasted hours agonizing and developing market-specific targets that never saw the light of day.

Evaluate the situation to make a decision, if:

The risk is high. When it’s a risky choice you must look at the downside. If you fail, can you tolerate the worst case scenario? If so, go for it. If you can’t, think a little more but not at the risk of missing a deadline. I made the choice twice in my life to pick up and move. Once I moved having a no job and knowing only one other person. The other time I moved with a job but knowing no one. In both situations, I felt that the worst possible case was that I would have to move back. In both situations, I grew substantially as a person.

There’s ambiguity. It’s okay to be comfortable with the unknown or not perfect. Too much ambiguity is a cause for thinking. But ambiguity on small matters will hinder you.

Do you unnecessarily complicate things? Do you reinvent the wheel? Are you a deep thinker? Cool, join the club. Let me know what other guidelines you have.

For more by Ryan McKeever, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.

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