Meditation and mindfulness are all the rage right now in SF.
Yesterday a friend said she now wants to meditate 2 hours per day.
A day doesn’t go by without an article on why mindfulness is the only thing that can save our race or a post by someone detailing their morning meditation ritual.
People are even starting to go on meditation retreats.
To be fair, the pitch for mindfulness is actually pretty great:
- reduce stress and anxiety
- make better decisions
- increase focus
- increase creativity
- live longer
- decreased blood pressure and hypertension
- lower cholesterol levels
- better sleep
That seems like a bargain for something that’s entirely free (unless you, like yours truly, want to spend $12.95/m to listen to a former buddhist monk with the best voice in the world) and only takes 10 minutes per day.
And so I started.
I downloaded Headspace and Calm.com, read about the best practices for meditating, and started my pursuit of mindfulness.
Meditate 10 minutes a day, extra meditation when feeling particularly stressed, mindfulness and being present in everything you do, feeling the food in your mouth, the water on your skin, the breeze, the city noises, etc.
Doesn’t that sound like a fucking dream?
And then just a couple of weeks ago, it hit me: meditation fucked me up big time.
After months meditating, I noticed something completely different about myself.
I’ve always been used to have my mind race with ideas, thoughts, to read as much as possible on every subject, just trying to learn learn learn and then regurgitate everything back into idea form.
I used to listen to audiobooks on my commute and have my mind racing with ideas on how what I was learning could impact my life and my business.
I used to get to bed and start thinking about a million different things until I was so exhausted that I’d pass out.
I used to get my best ideas and thoughts under the shower, in those 10–15 minutes where you don’t have anything else to do than think.
But: “no!”, the inner mindful voice said.
That’s all going to kill you. You should be mindful all the time and live in the present.
During the commute, just enjoy the breeze and the view, the people, the noises.
When going to bed, feel the weight of your body and clear your mind of any thoughts.
When taking a shower feel the water on your skin and relax, be aware of your body.
And so just like that, all the moments when I used to race with creative ideas and thoughts, got killed.
I was now left with no time to actually think.
The creativity that is generated by just thinking, and reading, and thinking, and trying to see how what you read can apply to other parts of your life, now just got completely lost. This led to a very stressful state, which was made even more stressful by the fact that I did not know what I was stressing about! My life did not change much, and I was even meditating!
Sure, I have a kid, and a startup, and a fund, but that had been the case for a while.
Now, I’ve stopped meditating and feel great.
My mind races with new ideas constantly and I’m both more creative and focused when I need to focus.
Look, maybe I was just doing it wrong, but maybe, just maybe, meditation is not for everyone.
Maybe it’s for people who tend to stress really easily about minor details.
Maybe it’s for people who don’t get energized by thinking a lot about new ideas.
I don’t fucking know.
But in that form, it definitely not for me!