With the stresses and strains that modern day living puts us under, we could all do with making some positive changes to our mindsets so we can better deal with these various pressures. Here modern meditation teacher Mick Timpson tells us why sometimes it’s a good thing to take it easy on yourself…
Here’s a secret. You don’t have to try too hard to live the life you want. In fact, it’s more effective if you learn to stop struggling and striving, let go a little and learn to take it easy on yourself. It seems counterintuitive, but the less you resist, the more you will achieve and you will be happier and healthier too. Modern meditation will help you achieve that switch.
I started learning about meditation in my early 30s. I was the classic high achiever receiving the highest honours at university studying architecture. The world said I was a talented architect, I could be a success. As a young architect, living and working in London, that’s when things really started to change.
When I look back at the pressure I put myself under was huge. I had given myself impossible targets to achieve and expectations to meet. It was exhausting. I became the classic high achiever and I couldn’t let go for a moment, as I tried to do more and more. I ignored tensions and stresses in the body, sleepless nights, anger and frustration until one day my mind and body went pop.
It started with feelings of constant anxiety in the pit of my stomach, lightheadedness and dizziness, extreme exhaustion, stiffness and tension. Then, the panic attacks started, which were frightening. It took a while, but I eventually had to acknowledge that I was not well and I was suffering with a mental illness.
Of course, like most men, I carried on, but that’s not a good strategy. Even though today many more people talk openly about their mental health, according to the Mental Health Foundation, only 24% of men who are currently suffering from anxiety and/or depression will share and communicate their experiences with others. That means a whopping 76% suffer in silence. I know all too well that it’s hard to cope and it can be hard for others around you to cope too.
I was diagnosed with depression. Something had to change.
One evening I joined a friend at an open evening at the once famous East West Centre on Old Street in London (which is long since gone). I sat in on a talk from a yoga teacher in which he gave us a little guided relaxation. It changed everything. For the first time I felt alive. I felt like I had some choice, some control. I could change the way I think and operate in the world and achieve what was really important.
I learned to take it easy on myself. And from that moment on I began to realise that if you could learn to change your mindset from constantly thinking about what if – to what is – you can set yourself free. This didn’t feel like I was switching myself off, or not doing what I wanted, instead, this was switching on, being totally present to a life that was possible to live in.
Build yourself a different world
Now coming up for my 60th birthday my role as an architect is now evolving. Instead of working with people to change their external world for benefit, I help people change their internal world for benefit.
I now practice as an inner architect with my modern meditation training business beanddo. The publication of the book – Making Happy Work – is based on our core training programme, which we take into businesses schools, healthcare and the community. In fact, anywhere where there are people who want to be different and do differently.
Making Happy Work offers an easy to use,’woo-woo’ free guide to practicing and utilising the benefits of modern meditation in your day to day life. It’s especially designed for beginners. The clue is in the title. You can make happy work in your life. Happiness is fundamental to a successful life.
Research tells us that people who have discovered their innate happiness:
- Do better than others on a number of measures, from income to longevity.
- Are better at close relationships, work more effectively and do better in school and work.
- Are more creative, resilient and productive.
Traditionally, we’ve understood happiness as a function of external circumstances, such as income, status and possessions. And to a limited extent these things matter but not for long. Sustainable happiness is an inside job linked to how you see things and thinks about things. This is where modern meditation comes in because that is what it does. It helps change your perspective towards what really matters in life. All you have to do is follow the simple map guide in the book that will lead you through the different aspects of meditation experience, outcomes and practice.
There are no special postures to master, mantras to remember, or raisins to chew, which – believe it or not – is a popular learning technique in most mindfulness classes. There are also guided meditations on the beanddo website, which will help you explore and discover what this ancient but thoroughly modern technique can do for you. I might be biased, but I can tell you from experience that learning modern meditation will be the best thing you can do for yourself… Ever!
All you need to do is decide to do it. Once you go to that first class you will wonder why you haven’t done this before, why nobody told you about this at school? We hear that a lot.
It’s official. We are living in a pandemic of mental stress and anxiety, and of course, there are many reasons for this but it’s pretty clear we are all living and working in challenging times. This is why mindfulness and meditation is huge at the moment and it’s great that it’s now being found everywhere. What’s important about beanddo is, that I have been there and understood the mental pressures one what’s can oneself.
There are two strands to our work with individuals groups and organisations. First of all we use modern meditation to help people build innate self-reliance. This involves using meditation to help manage stress, reduce anxiety so that one can begin to regulate and manage emotions, strengthen focus and build resilience. From there we move on to self-activation, utilising the benefits of modern meditation to nurture purpose and intention, and promote insight and deeper creative intelligence. These benefits of modern meditation, combined with where you are and what you do, are the foundation to our make happy work modern meditation programmes.
From the inside out
So my advice? Try it. Because guess what? Who is ultimately responsible for your happiness? Or, better still, who is responsible from keeping you from being happy? The answer might come as a surprise or it might not. But it’s you!
So here are three tips to help you make happy work in your life:
1. Cultivate some better habits by changing how you think about yourself. It can be done. If you can focus on being in a good place rather than tackling being in bad place you will notice those debilitating and crushing mental habits you have thought yourself into will lift. Modern meditation is one of the most effective ways you can find out how to turn that around. After a while you rewire your brain and start to feel different and happy. That is essentially what a habit is – a rewiring of the brain. Modern meditation will do that for you.
2. Take it easy on yourself by learning to shift your perception about things and direct attention more wisely. Learn to let go of that overwhelming self-image which is based solely on status, achievement and reward. Don’t expect, but instead learn to accept. This shift helps you move from thinking about your life – to living it instead. This is real change from the inside out and it will open you up to a feeling of balance and purpose that you never knew you had. This is probably the most important thing you can do for yourself, your family, friends, colleagues and community.
3. Just be… and this is perhaps the most important piece of advice. Regular modern meditation practice will help you lift mental obstacles. Know that you already have all the resources, skills, energy, creativity and insight to the very best version of yourself. Don’t feel you need to look or act like anybody else to be a success.
Modern meditation is the key- Try it. It’s easy. It has worked for thousands of years for millions of people. It will work for you too.
Mick Timpson is an inner architect, modern meditation teacher and CEO/Founder of beanddo.
His book Making Happy Work: A beginner’s guide to navigating the modern world with meditation is out to buy now (£9.99)
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