Sometimes what seems like a failure, such as losing your concentration in meditation, is actually what makes the difference in learning to meditate.
According to Dan Harris, author of “10% Happier”, the reason most first time meditators quit is because they keep losing their focus when trying to meditate. However, he says that the exact thing about meditation that has a positive impact on your brain, changing it for the better, is these repeated “failures”… The failure goes like this:
- Start meditating
- Focus on your breath
- Lose your focus
- Notice that you lost your focus
- Focus again
- Repeat for 20 minutes
That’s it. So each time you “fail” by losing your focus, it’s like a type of exercise for your brain. So the failures are not failures at all… They’re the whole nature of the “practice”!
Our success is doing the work in the first place… The failures are really blessings in disguise.
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Meditation offers a path to gaining a better understanding of what’s going on in your head…
Over time, focusing your attention holds the promise that you may have a better relationship with the chaos of thoughts that is your mind.
I’m using the app and I like it a lot.
I hope to make my mind “better” in some way… Perhaps I will be able to realize the title of Dan Harris’s (no relation) book on the subject, “10% Happier“.1
I tried meditating for the first time after reading Dan Harris’s book, but didn’t stick with it.
How To Meditate For Beginners
However, after listening to Sam Harris interview Yuval Noah Harari on Monday I jumped back on the horse and did meditated for 10 minutes.
I had not done so in months…
I then downloaded the Waking Up app and used it today while on the train to New York… The app offers two types of audio:
Audio on the philosophy of meditating
I listened to Sam’s audio on the philosophy of insight meditation and the concept of free will.
Putting Meditation In Practice
While listening to some of the audio content that’s included on the app I received an email from a potentially mentally deficient client…
In that moment I thought about my thoughts about this person.
Because I recognized my thoughts as objects in consciousness this helped me not react to the person’s email.
The Waking Up App offers both a series of “guided” meditations where you can follow along with his instructions as you meditate, as well as a meditation timer.
Going To Pieces Without Falling Apart
Navel gazing is a commonly used term to refer to someone involved in self-absorbed, unproductive behaviors.
The Origin Of Navel Gazing Is Rooted In Meditation
It’s a little known fact that the origin of the term “navel gazing” is rooted in the practice of staring at ones navel as a point of focus during meditation.
The term goes back to the Ancient Greek term “omphaloskepsis“.
Omphaloskepsis is a portmanteau of two Greek words, omphalolós (navel) and sképsis (examination).
While navel gazing is considered unproductive, meditation has most assuredly proven to be a productive use of one’s time.
As such, a naval gazer (a self-help junkie who is naval gazing) would not even do the work to meditate… They would just talk about the usefulness of it.
Indeed, self-help junkies are like any junkie… They derive short-term pleasure, but no inherent long-term benefits, from their behavior.
In this case listening to good advice while not doing anything.
Thus “naval gazing” captures the habit of listening to practical and useful advice (such as that of a bad-ass Jiu Jitsu master and decorated Navy SEAL) but not putting any of his advice into practice.