Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can cover meditation and mindfulness at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of the above video is included below.
Full Video Transcript:
Hi and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to talk about meditation and I’m going to share with you seven tips to become better at meditating, seven secrets to allow you to get more out of your meditation practice, maybe some things that are a little more advanced than some of the things that are featured in most of the other videos about meditation. But first, I’d like to talk briefly about the power of meditation in general, because in life there is such a thing called the stimulus response mechanism. And the stimulus is the world. It’s things that happen in your world. And certainly in my world I’m sure, just like yours, I have lots of crazy things that happen, and I end up in a lot of situations that are high-pressure and a lot of unexpected things can happen. That’s the stimulus. That’s the world.
Response is you. It’s how you respond to this stimulus. And it’s in between these two things that there is a gap, and in that gap is your power to choose. In that gap is your power as an individual, because you can decide how you’re going to respond to the world, how you’re going to respond to the stimulus.
And effectively, what meditation is, you’re trying to achieve this silence. You’re trying to achieve peace, the no mind, not thinking. And when you do that, when you have your eyes closed and you’re trying to meditate, images or thoughts will come into your mind and the muscle you’re building is to see that thought come in and say, “No, I’m not going to engage,” and let it go past and not touch it. So you’re building a muscle of not engaging with a thought.
Now for me, I’m a very visual person, so when I have a thought quite often it’s an image that comes into my mind first, and when I see that image in my mind, I have a choice. I can either react to it or I can say, “No, I’m not going to engage with this thought and have a thought about the picture, the image.” When the image comes in, if I engage with it and have a thought, it kicks me out of my meditation. It kicks me out of the silence. But if I can let that image drift past and not engage with it, then I can stay in the no mind. That’s what I’m trying to do in meditation.
Now, if you get better at that process of not engaging a thought, not engaging a thought, think about some of the ailments that people quite often have in life, things like anxiety, things like depression. These are things that I’ve struggled with myself, not depression so much but certainly anxiety. When my life gets crazy, sometimes my head can spin out, but by meditating I’ve become better at not engaging with it. And so the anxiety and depression, those are just thoughts coming into your head and they stick. They stay in there and they start to go around and around and around, and they stay in there all day long and they come back tomorrow and the next day and the next day. That’s what anxiety is. That’s what depression is. It’s a thought that gets into your mind and it doesn’t leave. But by meditating, you’re building that muscle to say, when these thoughts come in, “Just say no, I’m not going to engage that thought,” and let it drift past. And as you build that muscle, you regain your power. You regain your power to say, “No. This is me. I’m going to choose how I respond to the world, and if I have a negative thought, if it doesn’t serve me, I’m going to let it drift past and I’m not going to engage with that thought.” That’s the power of meditation.
So now, let’s talk about the seven tips to get better at meditation, to achieve more in your meditation practice. Number one, when you first get started and you close your eyes, your eyes are closed but focus on your third eye in your forehead. Bring your eyes up and slightly to the middle and focus on that third eye. They’ve done studies on this and it’s proven your brain releases more alpha waves more quickly if you do that, you have that focus right in the center of your third eye when you first close your eyes.
Secondly, when you do that, you want to be breathing deeply. Deep breaths. Most people misunderstand deep breathing, and so what they do is they try to bring more air in to achieve a deep breath. To achieve a deep breath, you don’t need to bring more air in. You need to exhale more air out on your exhale. So when you breathe out, there’s a natural place where people stop; push past that and breathe out more, unnaturally more, just a little bit past where you normally would so you’re emptying your lungs more than you normally do. That will guarantee a deep breath on the way back in. So the key to breathing deeply is to exhale a little bit more than you would normally.
Number three, try not breathing at all. That sounds crazy but it’s actually something that can be very powerful in meditation. Either when you get to the bottom of your breath and at the bottom of the exhale or if you get to the top when you’ve filled your diaphragm and your lungs and you have air inside of you, in either case, you can just close your throat, don’t pressure your face like you’re underwater, but you can close your throat and not breathe. Hold it, either out or hold it in. It increases the silence. It takes one more distraction away. And a lot of times people say that you should focus on your breath to get to the silence. That’s true and it can be very effective. We’re going to talk about this actually in the next point. But to actually go to not breathing at all can allow you to get one less distraction in the process.
So the fourth thing, and this relates to what we just said, thinking about nothing is different than not thinking. Let me say that again. Thinking about nothing is different than not thinking. When people say “focus on your breath,” there’s a focus. There’s a forward momentum because you’re focusing on something. The truth is that to achieve the silence you need to let go. You need to release. It’s going backward. It’s a surrender.
The tricky part with meditation is that you can’t acknowledge to yourself when you’ve reached the silence, because if you do, that’s a thought and it kicks you back out. The trick is to have an awareness that you’ve reached silence but not even allow your brain to mentally acknowledge that you’re there. And when people say “focus on your breath,” I interpret that as a forward momentum, as a thought process, and in fact what I’m trying to do is to disconnect my brain entirely. It’s to surrender. It’s to release. It’s to go backward.
So in your meditation practice, try to not think about anything, including your breath. And that’s when I say try not breathing at all; that can support that effort because when you’re not breathing at all you literally have such an intense release. There’s one less thing to focus on.
Number five, have no expectations. Don’t go into this looking for something. That’s another focal point. When you have an expectation, you’re focusing forward. You’re looking for something, a revelation, a light, some sort of an experience that people want to achieve during meditation. That in itself will reduce the odds that you’ll actually achieve it because it’s a focus, but what you want is that surrender.
Have no expectations. Don’t go into meditation looking for some revelation. Look for the silence. Allow the silence to overcome you. Achieve the no mind by resting into it, by falling back into it.
Number six—and this one’s a little bit strange but I’ve seen some videos on this on YouTube. I’ve read about it and I’ve experienced it myself. When I’m meditating, I can hear a faint ringing in my ears, and it’s not just me. It’s not just me. This is fairly common. Other people hear it too. And there’s that old wives’ tale that when someone’s talking about you behind your back you hear a ringing in your ear. It’s not quite that overt the way I sense it, but it has a similarity to it. There is a faint ringing in my ear, there’s a pitch, there’s a tone. And the more I relax, the more I surrender into the no mind. The more I surrender and release into the silence, that tone gets louder. And so I use that tone as a navigation tool through my meditation practice, because by being aware of it and hearing that tone and relaxing and having the no mind and trying to clear my thoughts, the tone gets louder.
Now, as soon as I focus on the tone, it goes away, because that’s a thought. It kicks me out. So again, it’s an awareness of it. It’s an awareness of the tone and syncing into it without actually mentally acknowledging it to yourself.
And the last thing I want to share in this video, number seven, is that there are two levels to meditation in my experience. The first is to reach silence, calm, no thought in my mind. But even in that stage, I am still aware that I am sitting on my couch in my living room or wherever I may be meditating. I still have an awareness of where I am. The next level, which is difficult—it’s a level that I’m struggling with, I’ve teased it, I’ve played with it, I’ve had little instances where I’ve gotten into it but only for 10, 15, 20 seconds and then I’m back out again—but there is a second level where I’m no longer aware of where I am. I let go of that as well.
And it’s hard. It’s very difficult. But this is the essence of my meditation practice today, is to explore that second level of losing awareness. See, when you fall asleep, you obviously are losing awareness that you’re laying in your bed. You go somewhere else. Your mind lets go of that awareness and you go into sleep. Now, I meditate in the morning, so there’s no risk of me falling asleep when I meditate because I’m well-rested, but there is still that capacity to lose the awareness that I’m sitting on my couch in my living room, which is where I normally meditate if I’m not traveling. As I say, it’s difficult to get there. But know as you build your meditation practice and as you build that muscle in your mind of letting things pass by, know that there is even another level where you can lose the awareness of where you are and it’s a wide-open space out there. It’s a wide-open space.
And again, the trick is to not acknowledge that you’re experiencing it because as soon as you do it kicks you out. And that’s my challenge with it, is that every time I get there I’m in there only for a few seconds before I realize I’m there and then I’m out again. So there’s a trick and there’s a muscle—I’m trying to build it myself—to allow myself to get into that space where I’m not in my living room anymore, I’m just in a different place of complete peace, and with any luck I’ll get better at it. When I first started my meditation practice, I was shocked at how quickly I got better at achieving no thought. Within three weeks, really, I got pretty good at getting…of course thoughts come in now and then, but I can dismiss them and get back to it. I could pretty reliably get to the point of no thought. But getting to the point of no awareness of where I am, I’ve only just skimmed the surface. But I believe that that is the true journey of meditation, is that second level, and I hope maybe you can find it for yourself as well.
Thanks so much for watching this video. My name is Patrick, reminding you as always to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.