Health & Nutrition, Mind & Body

A Fidgety Skeptic’s Actionable Insight on Getting Happier Through Meditation


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#MUNIonThis: Whenever we fall off track from a behavior we hope to integrate in our life, whether it’s establishing a fitness routine, going on a healthier diet, or being more patient with our partner / parents / kids / employees, it is not unusual for us humans to berate ourselves when we realize we’ve taken a detour.

From there, we may experience a downward spiral of negative self-talk, throw our hands up in the air, towards that big bag of chips and the remote control, as we plop ourselves hopelessly yet comfortably on the couch in front of the TV.

Meditation’s Major PR Problem

In my recent, more diligent pursuit and practice of meditation, I was pleasantly surprised to have stumbled upon someone who speaks about it in my language. Nightline news anchor Dan Harris, author of the book 10% Happier, speaks to fidgety skeptics, not unlike himself, when he says that meditation has thus far had a huge PR problem.

Many people still associate meditation with crystal-bearing tree-hugging hippies. And while they may arguably ward off bad vibes, it also wards off more scientific, logic-favoring cynics like myself from picking up a practice that may be seen as New Age juju.

Altruism & Philanthropy From Self-Love

As founder of MUNI, some people assume that I regularly meditate and do yoga or know my chakras and strictly eat only vegetables, but MUNI stereotypes / preconceived notions aside, I’m really just a normal person who just wants to live a happier, healthier life, and help make other people’s lives better in the process.

I just want to do more good and less evil, and I believe the first way to do that is to really love yourself first so you have more to give others, and the most important areas I believe we should address for holistic wellness is through:

  • Nourishing your mind with learning and growth (vs. self-defeating thoughts)
  • Nourish your body with fresh, energy-filled food
  • Engaging in activities that utilize this energy
  • Nourishing your soul with more positive relationships with others
  • Doing things that truly matter to you (which can positively contribute to the lives of others too)

The picture of the person in my head who wants that isn’t a hippie. Instead, it is a young, vibrant person, simple in his or her ways, nondescript, essentialist. This is a person who understands that the true value of life is not in the material, and that the attainment of goals is not the ultimate measure of fulfillment, but in the striving itself, the noting of each present moment, and relishing the journey.

THE Most Valuable Life Lessons from Meditation

I still have a struggle in aligning the whole being in the here and now idea, with striving, as these seem contrary to one another. But put nicely in his book, Dan cites a conversation with his friend Sam, wherein Sam says, all we can do is try.

This may not sit very well with people who measure life in KPIs or KRAs, and while I know these things are very important for us to figure out our day-to-day activities, I firmly believe these should not hinder or day-to-day well-being.

In his book, Dan introduces readers to Joseph Goldstein, a renowned teacher of meditation, who not unlike other gurus, remind us that the practice of meditation is in the act of noticing the times you have wandered away from the present moment, into some regretful thing you did or didn’t do in the past, or some uncertain (and oftentimes unnecessary) worry about the future. And then when you notice, calmly, gently bring your attention back – to the breath in meditation, and simply begin again.

With meditation as with life, when we fall off course, it is important to notice that we’ve noticed, forgive ourselves rather than berate ourselves, and simply begin again.


Jen Horn - Profile PicABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jen Horn is a wanderer, writer, and founder of MUNI, a community for mindful living. Through MUNI, she empowers people to think critically yet compassionately, to ask questions about how they live and work in a more socially and environmentally conscious way. She writes about psychology, wellness and the environment, and finds joy in diving, biking and tita things like preparing food and decluttering. Follow her at @nomadmanager.

 

 

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