By Tommy Dott, owner of Tommy Dott Coaching
I remember when I was a little boy my parents made me sign up for youth football. I was never very competitive as a child. Studying football plays, running up hills in full gear during practice...getting tackled? It just wasn't my thing. As a child I just wanted to "be". The only moment I can clearly recall about my short lived season of youth football is when my father came down from the stands during the middle of a game, put his big hands on each of my over sized shoulder pads, turned me 180 degrees, and pointed me toward the line of scrimmage. It seems that the next play was about to start, but I was somewhere else. At some point in between the team huddle and the collective clap of a dozen pairs of tiny hands, I went off into my own world, and there I stood, staring up at the clouds. Dad's gentle grip, his big smile and the distant laughter from the bleachers is what brought me back to Earth. I've reflected over the years about that moment--where had I gone off to...and why? Was I trying to escape to someplace else in my own mind? Or maybe I was simply just a little space cadet. Perhaps I was teaching myself to meditate. Maybe? I don't know, but now that I do meditate I am well aware of that familiar and peaceful feeling of mentally going away for a brief moment. Fortunately meditation now comes easy to me, but if it doesn't for you, that's OK! You're in the majority.
Someone recently asked me what being in a meditative state feels like. They were finding it virtually impossible to turn their brain off (a common issue, especially these days) and wanted to know more about the sensation, so I taught them an easy trick. If you're one of those people who has never had the pleasure of enjoying a completely quiet brain, you can try this as well. All you have to do is close your eyes and say to yourself, "I am going to concentrate on the first thing that comes into my mind......starting.......NOW." Then wait for that first thing to mentally unveil itself. Chances are, from the time you said to yourself "NOW" to the time that "first thing" popped into your mind, you brain was experiencing a blissful void. Go ahead and try it. Stop reading. Take a quiet moment, close your eyes, and repeat that sentence to yourself. Happy hunting.
So why did that happen? Because you were not thinking of the past, or the future--which is all our brains do when they're not playing Sodoku or trying to decipher assembly instructions for cheap-o furniture. A mind that is not kept busy becomes a squishy, 3-pound time machine, except when you're going into your own head--and that's a really nice place to take a mini vacation.
As for learning to meditate for longer periods of time there are all kinds of ways you can do this. Sometimes the right music helps, but I find quiet is key. You can be guided through a meditation, which is always a cool thing. There are classes where you can learn how to meditate, and if you like it enough, you can get certified in meditation or stress reduction and take others on guided meditations. Here's another thing you can do...boil an egg. Just the other day I had to turn the TV off. The news was too much for my nerves and it was making an already stressful morning worse. I could feel my shoulders getting tense and I needed a moment for myself. I had just put a few eggs in a pot of cold water to hard boil them, and instead of moving on to something else, I decided to enjoy the show.
Here's a quick lesson (and recipe) on how to enjoy what I know call a "hard boiled meditation." First get a few raw eggs and carefully put them in a pot of cold water, making sure the water covers them. Keep the pot uncovered, but have a cover nearby. Then turn the heat underneath the pot to "high". Now gaze into the pot, and just keep watching it. Staring at light reflecting on water is never a bad thing, no matter what light, or what body of water, but this gets better. You'll eventually see the refractive heat in the water start to swirl around the shells as the temperature changes. In time, the tiniest little bubbles will start to magically appear and cling to the eggs. The bubbles may start getting bigger, and the water lines from the heat will widen. Just keep quiet, just keep watching. If your brain goes elsewhere and leaves the pot, just acknowledge the thought, push it out, and get back to the slow boil. Eventually the eggs will go from the slightest of shimmers to full-on dance moves when the boil bubbles start. OOPS! The first sign of boil bubbles means your meditation is over! Time to turn the heat off, move the pot to a cooler part of the stove, and cover it immediately. Set your timer for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes are up quickly (and carefully) drain the hot water out and add cold water to the eggs to stop the cooking process. Keep the eggs in cold water for a few minutes, then enjoy your egg in your new-found happy place. Hopefully you've enjoyed a few minutes of peace, followed by a nice breakfast, and now you can announce to the world that yes, a watched pot doesn't just boil, it holds all kinds of magic.
Tommy Dott is a Personal Transformation Coach. To learn more about transforming your life by turning fear, doubt and hesitation into empowering moments, check out www.TommyDottCoaching.com