When I conduct Wim Hof Method breathing and cold exposure workshops, I always ask the participants beforehand who has tried to meditate and who simply can’t seem to get it right. Overwhelmingly, those who have tried to meditate acknowledge they struggle with it. One reason for this, in my experience, is because people have a misconception about what meditation is.
In the Tibetan language, meditation means to become familiar with your mind. That’s it! It’s no different than emotional awareness and recognition or metacognition that you hear me speak of so often. To be familiar with your mind you must be present and in the moment to where your mind is right now. We can practice this through some basic breathing and meditative work.
Maybe someday I’ll write the Leader 193 handbook for meditation, but not today. I simply want to provide you a few basic guidelines using your breath to practice the art of being in the moment.
Get Started Meditating
First and foremost, remind yourself that meditation is not easy! Anything worth doing takes work, and meditation, while calming and beautiful is no different.
Start your meditation for about five minutes (you can set an alarm if you need to). You want to focus on ONE THING. For our purposes, let’s focus on your breath. It does not matter for now if you are sitting, standing, or lying down; just be comfortable. Inhale through your nose, not your mouth. I recommend exhaling through your nose as well, but if you prefer to start exhaling through your mouth that is fine. Eventually you’ll want to do full nasal breathing.
As you begin your breathing, your focus is to remain only on your breath. When your mind wanders to something else, bring it back to your breath. The key here is that it does not matter how many times your mind wanders. As long as you are familiar with your mind you can bring your attention back to your breath every time. If your mind wanders fifty times in one minute of breathing and you bring it back to your breath every time … congratulations! You are meditating. It’s as simple as that.
Early Expectations of Meditation
What can you expect during the early stages of your breathing/meditation practice? Frustration for starters. You will be shocked at how hard it is to sit for five minutes and focus your attention, and you won’t believe how many times your mind wanders. You will feel like you spent only .01% of the time focusing on your breath and the rest of the time bringing your mind back from where it wandered. Good! You’re meditating. You are aware of where your mind is, and you are consciously bringing it back to where you want it.
Like anything else, it will take time to get good at. You must put in the work. When your body is screaming to get up and get on with your day, which it will, you must force yourself to sit still and focus on your breath. When your mind wanders, bring it back. Eventually you will learn to focus on your breath to such a degree that you will finally get past your analytical mind and into your subconscious mind, which is where all of our creation and peace comes from when we consciously tap into it.
For now, though, start your meditation with focusing on your breath for five minutes a day and when your mind wanders, bring it back. When you do this you practice being in the moment, and when you learn how to be in the moment you will have emotional and cultural awareness. When you have emotional and cultural awareness you can make a true and honest assessment of the areas in your life that need improvement, and you will have full situational awareness and be able to make good decisions.
Now get out there, put in the work, and the rewards will come!
Errol Doebler is the founder of Leader 193, a leadership consulting firm. After successful careers as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander and FBI Special Agent, Errol founded Leader 193 to realize his passion of empowering great leaders and better human beings. Errol provides executive coaching, keynote speaking, and corporate retreats to individuals and teams across the world.