Even a seemingly calm brain can be an incredibly busy place. It’s only really through meditation that we learn to work with – not change – this level of busyness.
I like the way Steve Jobs – the quintessential creative thinker of the last 25 years – put it:
“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things — that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.”
What Steve describes there, my friends, is Zen Meditation. Steve discovered the practice when he visited India as a young man in the 70s. In the years that followed, Steve continued to practice and hone his meditation and awareness techniques.
This was unheard of in the business world at the time. But today, Zen Meditation is practically ubiquitous among creative business minds working everywhere from Google to Goldman Sachs.
Say, how would you like to give Zen Meditation a try in your life?
What follows are 6 simple steps put together by Geoffrey James, one of Steve Jobs’ close friends.
Sit cross-legged in a quiet, peaceful place. According to the Hindu religion, the cross-legged pose awakens ‘kundalini’ – dormant energy in the body.
Close your eyes and focus on your existing thoughts. Your goal is not to change them or make them simpler; all you’re trying to do is pay attention to them. Pay attention to how your thoughts jump from one topic to another. Do this for five minutes.
That wild, crazy flow you’re observing? Buddhists refer to that as the ‘monkey mind.’ In this step, you’re going to try and shift focus to your ‘ox mind.’ The ‘ox mind’ is aware of the chaos around it but it simply contemplates life.
As you notice yourself toying with the idea of your ‘ox mind,’ ask your brain to slow down. Don’t try to force it; just ask.
Geoffrey James recommends this method:
“Try imagining your inner ox walking unhurriedly down a country road. This mental picture should help you pacify your inner ape. Don’t expect it to fall asleep at once. Apes are naturally restless! Nevertheless, you’ll soon notice your inner ape become more placid, and less prone to hustle and bustle.”
When you feel like your ‘ox mind’ has taken over, move onto the next step.
Continue concentrating on your ‘ox mind.’ You should feel your breathing slowing down. You’ll become aware of the sensations in your body such as the flow of air. As you open your eyes, the world should appear much different than when you first shut it out. The objects around you should appear just as your thoughts – not requiring change.
Keep practicing this. With time, you’ll become in tune with yourself and your time spent meditating will fly right by. Ideally, this should become an instinct. Whenever you’re faced with a problem you can’t seem to solve, practice Zen Meditation.
Want to learn more about how Zen Meditation influenced Steve Jobs? Have a look at this video! Here’s the book discussed in the short clip.