To give some background to the first of this two part series, I have been meditating almost daily for the past six months or so. I originally decided to give it a go just as a way to relax but, I have found that it has provided me with a lot more than that, and I now consider meditating as important to my daily routine as brushing my teeth, if not more so.
Personally, I have experienced side effects such as calmness, mindfulness, greater clarity, increased focus and the biggest of all; happiness and the ability to stay positive despite whatever the external circumstances may be.
This has resulted in a dramatic shift in almost every area of my life. From my relationships with myself and other people, my emotional wellbeing, and my performance as a Designer at Razor.
The experience has been so profound for me that I couldn’t help but share my experience with some of the people closest to me, the people that most of us spend the majority of our time with: our colleagues. After all, pre-meditating me never thought in a million years that I would resonate with this, but I was completely wrong. So if it worked for me, could it work for others?
We have to experience ourselves as well as each other
In the Western world, we are conditioned to perceive our world with our five physical senses. We often allow our emotional state to be dictated by things outside of ourselves. If a colleague disagrees with a decision you have made, it can sometimes hurt your feelings of self-worth and make you question how good you actually are at your job. Or if a client is being particularly difficult we might take that baggage home with us and let it affect us emotionally outside of work. Sometimes we make mistakes and instead of accepting them as a learning experience, we allow them to eat away at us, affecting our confidence and happiness.
But what if I told you that you don’t have to let those circumstances be your reality? What if you knew that as an observer of your own thoughts, you could learn how to overcome your negative emotions and instead choose to feel better? Choose to change your perspective.
If you had that level of clarity, if you became mindful and aware of your own thoughts and learnt how to direct them, then you would automatically become more compassionate towards yourself. And you would learn to be more compassionate towards others. That client could be having a really rubbish day too, but it’s fine because you can direct your thoughts, you have awareness and you know not to take it personally.
These are all the tools that meditating has equipped me with. It’s a pretty remarkable shift in perspective for someone who had no meditating experience whatsoever, and I was a complete skeptic (I have indeed learnt that being skeptical about something I have no knowledge of is the height of ignorance 😬).
The science of quieting your mind
Beta brainwaves, which have a frequency range between 12 to 38 Hz, dominate our normal waking consciousness when our attention is directed towards the outside world. They give us the ability to perform cognitive tasks, and when these waves are active, they allow us to be alert, able to solve problems, allow us to use our judgment and make decisions. This is perfect for allowing us to perform our jobs.
The downside? Beta brainwaves are also responsible for high levels of anxiety and stress. And continual high frequency Beta waves are not an efficient way to run the brain as they use a tremendous amount of energy.
These high frequency brainwaves would be useful if we were running away from or fighting predators, but we're not. But our society is structured in such a way that we always feel the need to fight, to compete, and to survive. Is it any wonder that in the Western world we have such high levels of stress, depression, anxiety and heart-related health problems? We simply cannot function well like this. If you’re constantly worrying about what your colleagues are thinking of you, if you undervalue what you bring to the table and you worry that making a little mistake means you’re going to get fired then you are on a fast track to gaining some health problems which in turn, is going to make you feel like you can’t perform optimally and the cycle continues.
I would like to add at this point that our culture at Razor is to look after each other. No one would ever get fired for making a mistake and we also never criticise each other. Everybody here is very kind and mindful but that doesn’t always mean that everybody feels secure at all times.
Insecurities are often within ourselves and the way we perceive outside circumstances can create anxiety internally. This is not a problem with our specific jobs, it’s a problem within humanity and we can change it by changing ourselves and setting the example.
We would all benefit highly from slowing these high frequency brainwaves right down. Even for just a small amount of time can prove to have dramatic results. A 15 minute meditation is all that’s needed to slow brainwaves into Alpha (8 to 12 Hz).
Alpha brainwaves are dominant during quietly flowing thoughts and in meditative states. We are in Alpha when we’re truly in the present and this is a resting state for the brain. Alpha waves aid mental co-ordination, calmness, alertness and learning.
If we get really deep into our meditations, we can even slow down to Theta waves (3 to 8 Hz) which occur most commonly in sleep. In this state, our senses are withdrawn from the external world and are focussed within. This frequency is responsible for intuition, great creativity and inspiration.
Sounds good. How can I do this then, Zen Master Sammi?
Unfortunately you'll have to wait for part two in this series (patience is a virtue, good things come to those who wait etc etc 😜). In my next post I'll be sharing the meditation sessions we did and the results. If you want something to do in the mean time though, thinking of five things you're grateful for each morning is a good start to getting out on the right side of the bed.