Once or twice a day, I go into my bedroom, turn down the lights, lay on the bed, and look up at the ceiling. I start off by reflecting on a small handful of things that have really brought me significant joy in the past few days. After a few minutes of that, I focus entirely on emptying my mind for a while, and once that’s done, I just drift without anything in my mind. Sometimes thoughts drift in and out of my head – sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I doze off for a bit – other times, I don’t.
After about twenty minutes of concentrated mental relaxation, I almost always feel refreshed and much more able to tackle whatever is on the table in front of me, whether it’s a household task, some work to be done, some bills to be paid, or anything else. I get that stuff done faster and better than I ever would have done before the meditation.
Call it meditation or prayer or whatever you wish – it flat-out works.
When I first started doing this, I seemed like it would be an utter waste of a good twenty minutes. I started trying it at the urging of my pastor at the time, who told me to try to take some time every day to pray and to let God speak to me. I didn’t really have any idea what that even meant, so I tried mostly just spending some time reflecting on what was going on in my life in a positive way. I tried to spend fifteen minutes a day just reflecting on the good in my life.
It didn’t really work.
Instead, I started reading books on prayer and meditation to see what others had discovered. What I seemed to find, time and time again, is that people found success in just letting their mind drift and seeing what answers were revealed to them. This pops up over and over again in all sorts of religious and other writings.
What I’ve found is that an empty mind is a real clarifier. Those twenty minutes spent letting my mind be as empty as I can make it do more for my day than anything else I do.
That time seems to fill my mind with a great deal of motivation and, often, with solutions to the problems I’m immediately facing.
I could attribute it to God speaking to me subtly. I could attribute it to my subconsciousness. I could attribute it to the simple benefit of rest. I’m not going to claim that I have any sort of proof as to why it works, and I’m not going to enter into a metaphysical discussion about it.
I can only say that it really does work.
I’m going to challenge you to try this, just once, and see if it actually works for you even half as well as it works for me. If it does, you’ll find that it’s really a useful addition to your life, whether you attribute it to a religious or spiritual cause or to a psychological or physical cause.
Sometime in the next few days, when you’re feeling really stressed out, go into a room that doesn’t have a lot of distracting elements. If it’s at work, you can even use a bathroom stall if you want.
Sit down and get as comfortable as you can. Then spend a couple of minutes thinking about the good things in your life. What in your life makes you happy? Whatever that is, think about it for a bit – say, two or three minutes.
Then try to clear your mind. Try to think about nothing at all. Close your eyes and make an effort to clear your mind of all of the noisy jumble in it. When a stray thought comes in, avoid thinking about it. Try thinking about nothing at all.
Close your eyes and just let your mind drift for a while. If a bit of sleep comes, that’s okay.
How do you know when to end it? For me, the best way I can describe it is that reality catches up to me with a start. I almost always startle myself out of it, and usually, about twenty minutes have passed.
What I notice more than anything is that I feel really, really refreshed and that my mind is usually racing with good ideas. I often find myself jotting down post ideas for The Simple Dollar right after doing this, and I’m usually very productive for the next hour or two. I also usually don’t feel tired, even if I felt tired before doing this.
I’m sharing this simply because this has really worked well for me and has gone a long way toward improving the quality of my personal, professional, and financial life. You might try it and get nothing out of it – or you might try it and find that it’s a game changer for you. I sincerely hope that it’s the latter.