Why meditation is necessary to overcome obstacles
by Heather Thatcher
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You don’t have to be following me for long to know that I think very highly of meditation.
I practice meditation every morning, and my big thing about it is to meditate until you’re done.
For me, this means sometimes I meditate for 15 minutes, other times it’s an hour and a half.
There are so many research studies that show the profound impact meditation can have on our health and mental wellbeing. But knowing that something is good for us isn’t always enough, right?
Otherwise, we’d all be exercising regularly and eating only healthy food.
Not exactly the Western Society norm, is it?
We, as a generalization of society, like things to happen as fast as freaking possible. We want what we want, when we want it and not a moment after.
The same goes for when we try and solve a problem.
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We can become so laser-focused on the problem and keep bashing away looking for a solution.
But as Albert Einstein said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that we used when we created them.”
So that means that the mindset we’re in when we discovered or created the problem is often not going to allow us to see the solution. We will be too focused on what we don’t want, or what’s going wrong or what we want to change.
It’s like we’re in a little boat being tossed about on the ocean. We have no control over the waves, the rain, or the wind. We’re just trying to stay afloat.
When we’re in this survival mindset, that so many of us are experiencing daily, it’s tough to get unstuck and solve our challenges or overcome those obstacles.
The problems keep piling up.
We think of solutions, but then the what-ifs appear and the predictions of how others will react, and how the situation might play out if we try this solution or that solution.
We keep getting tossed about in a sea of all of the factors contributing to our problem that are entirely out of our control.
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Let’s come back to the visualization of that stormy ocean. On the surface, life is rough for that tiny boat. So much is happening that is drawing your attention.
If you go 30 – 40 feet below, the water is calm, quiet, and completely unaffected by what is happening on the surface.
Meditating on your problem when you’re in survival mode drops you down into that quiet, calm place where you have distance from the problem.
This calm space is what I like to call the home of your Objective Observer.
The Objective Observer is like having a mediator or impartial arbitration come to help you solve a conflict.
It’s the equivalent of asking someone else to help you resolve a disagreement between you and a friend.
The Objective Observer can see all sides of the story at once, how they influence each other and ultimately what the best solution is, and how to get there.
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Everyone has this Objective Observer within them. You do, I do, we all do, and we can access this objective, calm, reasoning part of ourselves at any time.
And the easiest way to learn how to do this is through meditation.
When we meditate, we focus on slowing down our breathing which keeps our stress response from ramping up and can even turn it off. This rest and digest state is geared towards healing and processing our experiences and coming to a deeper understanding of our world and ourselves.
Meditation allows us to slow down and focus on one thing at a time, noticing it, and observing it as it is without labels or judgement.
Think of it this way.
Imagine that I have asked you to perform your most complicated duty at work, while having the radio blasting in the background, with three different people talking to you and asking you questions. Then I asked you to keep subtracting seven starting at 943…how well do you think you’d do?
Now, what if you were sitting in a calm, quiet space, with no distractions and asked you to subtract seven starting with 943?
Yes, it would still take brainpower.
And if you’re like me and have some limiting beliefs like “I’m not good at math” then you’ll have to work against that as well.
But I think we can agree it will be a heck of a lot easier than in the first scenario, right?
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Meditation gives you that quiet space without distraction to work on the problem and focus on the real cause of the challenge.
Does that make sense?
If you feel that you’ve been bashing your head against a wall, unable to solve a particular problem, step back and go into some form of meditation.
Sometimes this looks like what we most commonly think meditation is. We see someone sitting on a cushion, cross-legged on the floor with their hands resting on their knees while breathing slowly and deeply with their eyes closed.
Sound about right?
True, this is the most traditional and most transformative way to meditate.
Could you not put on some calm music and go for a walk outside to clear your mind, change your environment and access that mindful observer within you?
Quite often my walks with my dog Takoda create this meditative space to solve problems that have come up for me as I’ve been working.
Just like everything in life, the more you practice, the easier it gets.
The first time you’ll try to sink below the surface of the problem and access the mindful observer within you, it might be hard. That’s okay, though, because next time you’ll have already done it once and your brain will start to recognize the pathway that brought you there.
Again, and again, every time you meditate and find your inner observer, the more established that neuro-pathway becomes.
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It’s like if you started walking across the grass to cut across a field. Every day that you walk that same path, the grass becomes more worn until one day it’s a clear dirt path leading you where you want to go.
You’ll do the same thing with the neurological connections in your brain. The more you meditate the easier it will be for you to access your mindful observer in a hurry when you need it with a few deep breaths.
High powered executives, leaders, and emergency room physicians all know how to do this quickly.
And it’s all because they’ve practiced accessing that calm inner center.
I have a free guided meditation that is going to show you exactly how to do this.
But, if you haven’t meditated much or are brand new to meditation, you may want to start by signing up for my Meditation Foundation free 5-day challenge.
In just five days, I’ll show you how to get all of the benefits of meditation (not just the ability to access the Objective Observer and solve your problems quickly.) I’m going to walk you through how to calm down your brain and dismiss all the thoughts that pop into your head the second you close your eyes. A busy mind is a real thing, but it’s easy to learn to control and quiet. You’ll learn proper meditation posture, breathing techniques, and some strategies to set up a regular meditation habit that will flow as naturally into your day as getting up in the morning and brushing your teeth.
If you’re interested in that online Meditation Foundations course, then go to heatherthatcher.com/meditation to learn more and save your seat.