At 21, I was entering my second to last year of college at Rutgers University pursing majors in Economics and English, with minors in Psychology and American Studies. I was an ambitious, high-energy, over confident and certainly over caffeinated bodybuilder, student, personal trainer, model, boyfriend, son, and aspiring entrepreneur. Inevitably, my thoughts were constantly racing. At times, this cognitive bedlam resultant of my irrepressible thoughts was destructive to my productivity, happiness, and overall health. I would feel stressed very often, unfocused, and even paradoxically directionless due to the many directions I wanted to go in.
It seemed like although my dad never alluded to how motivated he was, he seemed to get things done very efficiently, yet I always talked a big game and used various substances from coffee to Adderall to feel motivated and stimulated but never got anything done.
I could not stand it. I had to ask this old man what the secret was; which is exactly what I did – and he said “Meditation.”
“Ok cool buddha, now really, what’s the deal.” He simply smiled and said, “Try it, the answer is simple.” Arrogant me did not want to accept this for an answer; so I continued to live my cluttered life. My room was always a mess, my desk always unorganized, my to-do lists long and uncompleted every day, my stress levels constantly through the roof, and my life was simply unmanageable. It was not until I got into a car accident while texting and driving that I realized that something needed to be changed. I was not present anymore. My life passed me by, moment by moment, and I was getting no fulfillment because my mind was never where it needed to be: in the now. It got so bad that I put my life at risk.
“Dad, I want to learn to meditate,” I said the day after the accident. I researched various forms of meditation, and remembered an old boss mentioned TM, which stands for Transcendental Meditation. I signed up for a course, learned how to meditate, and my life was changed forever.
Fast forward about three years later.. In the past three years I have probably skipped about 35 days total. I have meditated a minimum of 5 minutes, and up to an hour and a half on rare occasions. The recommendation is to meditate twice a day for 20 minutes; my average is a little short of that, where I only engage in one meditation session a day for about 20 minutes as part of my extensive morning ritual.
Here are the benefits that I believe to have received from this magical practice. Of course, we cannot fall victim to the correlation = causation paradigm, but there are a lot of studies that confirm the wide range of benefits that meditation provides; some of these benefits are found in the studies while others are purely anecdotal. Regardless, it does not hurt to try!
1) More presence in the moment; I am not thinking about extraneous things whilst immersed in a task.
2) An increased sense of focus along with mental endurance especially when reading
3) An improved ability to shift attention away from a current task, and then back to it
4) A better control of my internal dialogue; I am able to catch cynical thoughts and prevent them from spiraling downwards.
5) Improved willpower when engaging in all forms of physical exercise and strenuous mental tasks.
6) The ability to fall asleep within minutes of putting my head on the pillow, no matter how much coffee, pre-workout powder, or other stimulants I have consumed.
7) Lower blood pressure upon completion of meditation.
8) A lower resting heart rate.
9) Less impulsiveness (Also could be a factor of age-related neuroplasticity and the full development of my prefrontal cortex)
10) Heightened sensory perception; improvements in my olfactory sense, and auditory perception. My vision, ever since I started meditating has actually drastically improved ever since I started as indicated by tests from the eye doctor.
11) 3.8, 3.8, 3.7, 3.5 GPAs my last 4 semesters of college which were improvements from my 3.0 GPA that I had earned during my previous years of college.
12) Improved intuition; my ability to sense unhealthy environments, negative people, and all forms of toxicity.
13) Improved pain tolerance
These are just a few of the most striking benefits that I have observed, but there are many more that I can name.
Meditation is not as rare of a practice as one may think; there are many high profile, successful, happy, wealthy, and fit people that meditate regularly, such as:
1) Jennifer Anniston (Actress)
2) Russell Brand (Comedian)
3) Gisele Bundchen (Fashion model & Producer)
4) Sheryl Crow (Singer)
5) Ray Dalio (Investment Banker)
6) Ellen DeGeneres (Talk-show Host)
7) Yukio Hatoyama (Former Prime Minister of Japan)
8) Paul McCartney (Singer)
9) Katy Perry (Singer)
10) Martin Scorsese (Director)
11) Russell Simmons (Music Producer & Entrepreneur)
12) John Stamos (Actor & Musician)
13) Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum (Cardiologist)
14) Howard Stern (DJ & Talk-Show Host)
15) Ivanka Trump (Real Estate)
16) Oprah Winfrey (Talk Show Host & Producer)
17) Barry Zito (MLB Player)
All I am saying is try it, it's simple. It does not hurt. How to meditate? Ah. Check out my YouTube video coming out in the next few weeks :)