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What Everybody Ought to Know About Meditation and Stress

Do you meditate?

If you want to thrive and live with a high level of success and happiness, but you’re not meditating, I’ve got some news for you. You’re missing one big key to the kingdom.

If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably had some powerful experiences of inner peace already. Moments when your mind went quiet, your soul settled down, and you lived life from a deeper center.

But let’s be honest. For someone like you, who is striving for a high level of achievement and fulfillment, flashes of peace aren’t enough for you to reach your full potential.

You might have influence and authority, you may even be rich, but without the ability to center your mind, focus your being, and sink into stillness, you’re missing some of the secret sauce that ties it all together.

Why?

Because success comes at a cost. You probably know this all too well. We don’t achieve great things without working incredibly hard and embracing some measure of stress. That’s fine, and even necessary, but without a reliable way to balance that stress, you’re going to pay a steep price.

The Common Cost of Success

What is the cost? I’m talking about burnout, your compromised health, a spiraling mind, and a schedule of commitments that spreads you too thin. It’s no secret, these are the common side-effects of “success” that people talk about.

We’ve all heard about the work-life balance, but it’s not so easy to attain. So what’s the deeper issue?  How do we create a lifestyle that balances worldly achievement with inner wealth? I think you’ll agree, a life that’s richly lived includes both.

So for you to thrive and embrace a performance lifestyle, balance and integration is key. And meditation will help you achieve that balance and develop a buoyant source of confidence and well being.

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Why Meditation Is A Secret Sauce

So let’s break it down. Why is meditation a secret sauce and how can it help you achieve balance and integration? Here are four common ways that we compromise in pursuit of success and how meditation can help you turn it around.

  • Burnout
  • Stress
  • A Spiraling Mind
  • Overcommitment

A Pre-emptive Approach to Burnout

Burnout is a killer. You have big goals, big visions, and big plans, so you need to keep your batteries charged. Burnout happens when you tap your core energy reserves without replenishing them. Maybe you know what I’m talking about—it’s like hitting a brick wall. Unfortunately, it’s a very real obstacle for high performers.

Meditation is one of the best ways to prevent burnout. Why? Because it taps you into a limitless source of energy. What is that energy? One simple way I like to think about it is that it’s Life—pure and unmediated.

A lot of people don’t know this, but when you meditate, you sink into a part of yourself that is regenerative. This part of yourself is always at rest and forever untouched by the world of time and action.

Spending time relaxed and at ease in this part of yourself is like plugging into a cosmic wall socket. It restores your deeper batteries and creates space for fresh perspectives to emerge.

And when it comes to burnout, meditation is one of your best preemptive remedies. A regular practice restores your energy and focus while centering your mind and expanding your awareness beyond the crisis of the moment.

Balancing Meditation and Stress

Did you know that stress is addictive?

When you are trying to achieve big things, it’s easy to start living off the energy of stress. I’ve seen it a lot.

Sure, there are benefits to stress, because it can motivate us. But in our culture, stress is chronic and often acute. Many of us struggle to manage it, and the toll is heavy on our health and our humanity. There is a heavy cost to living off or with this kind of stress, which isn’t always obvious at first.

Think about it. You are your most precious resource. When you live with massive stress, you are redlining your nervous system all the time. Even the best performance sports cars will buckle if you keep them revved at that level all the time. It’s the same with us…stress erodes our energy, minds, and bodies. It can only take you so far.

And that’s where meditation comes into the picture.

Meditation and stress are opposites. A regular meditation practice helps you cultivate access to the dimension of your self that is free from anxiety, worry, and the pressure of redlining deadlines. And amazingly, recent studies have shown that meditation can actually repair some of the damage done by stress.

The more you practice meditation and access this still calm center of yourself, you will start to notice something interesting. Your capacity to let go and release the things that create stress increases. As that capacity grows, you’ll find that you are developing a preference for cool and calm composure over stress.

This is huge and this is how meditation can help you break your addiction to stress.

Stopping Your Spiraling Mind

Meditation helps you center your mind. That’s something all of us need, but it takes practice. Just like investing money in the bank, time spent in meditation pays dividends. What are those dividends? It’s your capacity to center you mind when you need it most.

Often, your mind can feel like your best friend and your worst enemy. That’s a problem, because you need your mind to be steady when you are trying to achieve big things.

How do you steady your mind? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not through trying to stop your thoughts. That’s like trying to bottle a tornado. The beauty of meditation is that it teaches you how to be at ease with the constant ups and downs of your mind.

How? Meditation taps you into a stratum of yourself that is always and forever free of the turbulence in your mind. Your practice acquaints you with that deeper layer of yourself.

Over time, meditation helps you develop the habit of staying grounded and stepping out of your mind into this deeper self sense. The more you do this, the more your confidence grows in that part of yourself that is free from all the drama. With consistent and engaged practice, that confidence simply trumps the ups and downs of your mind.

Trust me, if you stick with it and develop your practice, you will discover this confidence in yourself and how valuable it can be. Why? Because, it’s the key to centering your mind. Spend regular time inhabiting this deeper layer of yourself through meditation and you can’t fail.

Master Mindfulness and Stop Spreading Yourself Too Thin

Do you spread yourself to thin? This is another challenge for high performing individuals.

Meditation can definitely help. When I meditate, I always return to the center of myself. From that center, I know that anything is possible. I feel that I can conquer the world.

But there’s a catch.

If I leave that center, I quickly lose touch with that feeling of confidence and conviction. You see, meditation fills us with a native sense of the positivity of life. Being alive is a beautiful thing and meditation helps us to know and feel that in our core.

But it’s as easy as breathing, especially when you’re feeling your best, to overcommit and spread yourself too thin. That’s often more true for high-performing individuals like you. When that happens, we find ourselves a million miles from home, scrambling, and wondering how we got there.

So how does mindfulness help?

For me, it means slowing down and honoring that space I discover in meditation. Respecting and valuing that space is what mindfulness is all about. When you start to respect that calm center in yourself, you make different choices. You consider what actions are going to support your equanimity and which ones are going to spread you too thin.

And trust me, you can never stay centered when you are spread too thin. Usually, you generate stress, resentment, and other qualities that knock you off your game.

Tune in to this quality of mindfulness. Slow down and honor the calm center you are discovering in your self. If you do, I think you’re going to be surprised what can happen and how quickly things can change.

But of course, meditation and mindfulness is more than just an antidote to all these potential pitfalls. For me, meditation is the secret sauce that makes life amazing. If you have come to the realization that living a lifestyle that works for you (performance lifestyle) to achieve your goals with your health and wellbeing intact, for success and quality of life, these four tips will certainly help, but you can expect that meditation will do much more than what I’ve pointed to in this short article.

And like any other aspect of Your Lifestyle, meditation is just one part of the whole picture, but I do want you to know, it’s a damn important part of that picture.

By Morgan Dix

Morgan Dix is a writer who enjoys exploring the intersection of contemplative fitness and culture. He is a co-founder of About Meditation, an online guide for the modern meditator. Photos licensed under Copyright. Thanks to mrhayata and grimsanto for the images.

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  1. […] Meditation and stress exist on opposite ends of the performance spectrum. These four tips on meditation and mindfulness will help you balance stress.  […]

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