Meditation has been one of the most beneficial habits I’ve implemented into my life. I’ve been practicing it since 2014 and it’s always been an important part of my morning routine. I love it for the simple fact that I shut off all distractions and can focus on my inner world (body and mind). For 20 minutes a day, it’s just me, myself and my body exploring the depth of my consciousness. But I have always found it contradictive that while doing meditation as part of my morning routine, the rest of the day I can be distracted a thousand times. Especially by my smartphone and other technology at hand. Please don’t get me wrong, meditation has brought me many gifts (focus, clarity, self-awareness) but it always felt odd to spend only 20 minutes on meditation while the other +-16 awaken hours you are far from that state.
A month ago I was checking an interview with Dahndepani, a Hindu priest who spent 10 years in a closed off monetary and now is a self-development trainer and entrepreneur. The interview had some amazing insights but one thing he said really hit me. He said that you can only truly benefit from meditation if you can be focussed throughout the rest of the day. A great percentage of people in now a day’s society can’t focus anymore. This reminded me of what Tai Lopez said on Tim Bilyea’s show Impact Theory stating that our attention span has become shorter than that of a goldfish (6 vs 5 seconds win for the goldfish). And the technology we use today is a major reason for that. Of course, practicing meditation is still better than not practicing it at all, but the benefits you get from it are a lot less appealing.
It’s like an alcoholic saying he stopped drinking in the morning and instead drinks 3 glasses of water. Great and it’s an improvement! Better than drinking throughout the whole day. But what if he drank water throughout the whole day, and only drank a glass or two in the evening? You might think it’s a crazy comparison. Maybe. But let’s break it down:
With meditation, we practice exploring our consciousness and detaching from our conditioned thought processes. We just watch and observe. This can be a very liberating experience for people all over the world. We just rest our mind in the present moment. But because we are creatures of habit, the time we spent not being present to the moment will have a lot more impact on us. Realizing that the impact I was getting out of meditation was minimal to what it could be really hit me. But on the other side realizing that the depth of my meditation could be a lot greater felt exciting and challenging.
So, if we need to focus more throughout the day to get more out of our meditation practice what are the solutions? I split it up into two solutions. The first is to minimize distractions out of our everyday life so we can focus more. And the second is learning to be more mindful throughout the day.
1) Minimize distractions
In now a day’s society distractions are everywhere. And growing technological possibilities have a great impact on this. Although a lot of technology has great benefits (I’m writing this blog in a cafe in Rishikesh (India) on a MacBook with pretty fast internet) it also has a counter side. We are always connected and are always open to unexpected notifications. That we have a smartphone in our pocket and are always connected to our friends and the rest of the world through social media has magnified the distraction rate. So what can we do? If we are addicted to our smartphone or other devices we first need to look at how we can be focused and mindful with the current technology at hand.
Here are 4 practical tips that helped manage the technology I use:
1) Get rid of all notifications on all devices.
Research has shown it takes at least 20 seconds to get back at a task at hand, let alone get in a flow state.
2) Clean up your home screen.
Move all your apps to the second page of your device and keep only a few necessary ones on the first page. It will take an extra step to
3) Manage your communication.
Check the incoming social media messages and news after 12 hours, or even later and only 2/3 times a day. Yeah, people will still stay your friends, and if not, they are the ones with a problem.
4) Download the iOS app (Moment)
This app will give you amazing insights on how often you are distracted by your phone! If you’re on android I’m sure there is a similar app as well.
Implement these simple tips and they will give you more control over technology instead of the other way around.
2) Be more mindful throughout the day.
This is something that will take a lifelong of practice. But there are shortcuts as in any practice in life. So what are the shortcuts and how can we implement them?
1) Experiencing mindfulness throughout a big part of the day.
I would recommend going on a 10-day Vipassana retreat or similar meditation course. During this retreat, all you do is meditate for 10 days straight. You are not supposed to have contact with anyone else and just focus on your breath and bodily sensations. This will force you to become more mindful, and you will reap the benefits after the course. I’m going on a Vipasanna course this year and will share my insights after the course.
2) Finding an accountability partner.
This one is huge for me. Having someone (ideally someone you see daily) who holds you accountable for being mindful and present throughout the day will help you when things get tough. Hold each other accountable, it will help you grow both.
3) Give yourself notifications.
This seems contradictive to what I said earlier about eliminating distractions and notifications, but in this case, you are in control of the technology, not the other way around. Give yourself a notification (something like: be mindful) at set hours.
Many of the above tips are out of first-hand experience and totally subjective. I hope you can relate to the article. And if so, give the above solutions a try! And let me know if it has helped you in your meditation practice. If you are new to meditation and want to implement it into your life please check my blog on how to implement habits into your life. If you have any other tips/insights? Please feel free to share!