I've always wanted to meditate.
Okay, okay - I know that sentence may not have riveted you to your seat - heck, I'm almost tempted to stop typing and go grab a beer, BUT let's hang in there and see where this goes. Deal? Good! In fact, I'll give you a hint: For those of you in the U.S., this ties to the 4th of July.
Okay...where was I? Meditating, right! So, I always wanted to try this as the health, focus, and calming benefits were appealing to me. And every couple of years I'd make the promise to myself - "This year I'm going to start meditating!" And I would...for a month or two. One time I even made it 6 months. However, I always hit the same wall - time. How can I devote 10, 15 or even 30 minutes to this each day?!?! And, eventually, I'd walk away from it, head in shame. Only to return to it again the next year, or year after...as I'd repeat the cycle as if I was on some Sysyphus-ian hamster wheel as I pushed the boulder of mediation up the hill each day, only to have it crush me flat each night. And this cycle continued...
I was discussing mediation with someone I trust and they suggested that I start mediation 3 minutes, 3 times a day. I shared with them, "Really? That can't work, can it? How can I achieve peace and calm in the time it takes me to eat a Chipotle burrito? That must be against the rules of mediation, right?" He went on to say that I could build to mediating for longer periods, but that I should start small. And you know what?
It worked. I'm still meditating each day - multiple times - and I'm loving it!
It is at this point that you might be wondering, "Where are you going with this, Mike? We are 'oh-so-proud' of your personal accomplishment, but what's the WIIFM* here; what's the useable insight?" Here's the it is: I couldn't figure out why it worked for me for a few weeks - was it the small chunks of time? Sure - but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was something even more specific. My friend gave me a gift with his suggestion. It wasn't just his prescription of "3 minutes, 3 times a day" it was this...
...He gave me permission. He gave me permission to get past my preconceived notions of how mediation worked and how long it had to last. And in doing so, that permission helped me to thrive.
How can we put this to use in our everyday lives? Well, for one - if there is something you've always wanted to do, but were afraid, nervous, or unsure if you could do it - you don't have to do what I did and wait for someone to give you permission. YOU can give yourself permission to try it, to fail, to succeed, to do it differently, to throw out the directions and experiment a little!
If you are reading this in the U.S., isn't this what we did over 200 years ago? Someone told us we had to live, worship, and be a "certain way". Then, our forefathers gave us permission to rebel; permission to fail as we risked everything to create a new way of life. The great thing is that we can do this in our personal lives each and every day. Wake up each morning and give yourself a permission slip to meet the person of your dreams, to live a little louder, to work a little harder, or to chase that dream you've always kept to yourself.
Give yourself the gift of permission. This is something to reflect on as those of us in the U.S celebrate our Independence Day this week. Why not give yourself permission to declare your own personal Independence Day and make a choice to do the things you've always wanted? In fact, why not take a piece of paper out right now (or whip out your mobile device) and write a "permission slip" to do whatever that special something is you've been putting off? Make the commitment and go for it, you might just be surprised by the results! In fact, why not take a few moments to write what you are committing to in the comments below? What have you got to lose?
Until next time, make today great and crush it!