Welcome back to the Daily meditation with me, meditation teacher Paul Harrison.
Today, one of my students asked me how meditation can make them more productive.
Well, the good news is that meditation can indeed massively increase your productivity levels, and by the end of this episode, you’re going to know a few easy but very powerful techniques that you can use to make sure that your productivity levels are high each.
So why does meditation help with productivity?
Well, in a nutshell, the primary reasons why meditation helps with productivity are, 1) meditation empowers the mind to focus through distractions, and that’s really really important because one of the number one impediments on our way to productivity, in other words one of the things that most affects our productivity levels, is our inability to focus because of distractions. For instance, let’s say you’re at work in a busy office. You’re trying to type a document, but there’s noise in the back. Even though you’re trying to focus on the document that you’re writing at work and be productive, your mind keeps going to that sound in the background. You keep getting distracted by it. So the first thing that meditation does is that it gives us the power to focus through distractions. In other words, if you meditate you’ll be able to focus on whatever you want to focus on, regardless of what’s going on around you.
Another really big reason why meditation helps with productivity is because it helps with motivation. In fact, on The Daily Meditation here you can find episodes that are all are about using meditation for motivation.
So motivation is a huge part of productivity. In order to be productive, we need to know that there’s going to be a positive outcome for the work that you’re putting in because you simply won’t bother putting work into anything if you don’t believe that you can get a positive result from that work. So to be productive, we need to believe, to be positive, to believe that we can achieve things. Because that will motivate us to put in the effort.
And those are two of the biggest aspects of productivity.
Now one of the most common mistakes that people make with meditation is that they believe that it is all about breathing, and I’m here to tell you otherwise. Because of course, there are very many different meditation techniques and some meditation techniques are better for productivity than others. So I’m going to show you the most powerful meditation techniques for productivity. These are meditations that have specifically been scientifically researched and shown to make us more productive.
So the very first meditation that will increase your productivity is Zazen. Zazen is the most important principle meditation technique used in Chan Buddhism or otherwise called Zen. Now, Zazen (Zen Meditation) is similar to your regular breathing meditation, but with one very important difference. In zazen, we sit facing a wall with the eyes partially open. So, just as you do with the regular meditation, you sit you and focus on your breathing and you calm your mind and so on…. The the main difference with zazen, as I mentioned, is that in zazen we have the eyes just a little bit open, about like 1/3 of the way open. And we’re also sitting directly in front of a blank wall. Now that sounds, I don’t know, maybe a bit silly, bit kind of trivial like, well, why do I need my eyes open in front of a wall that’s completely blank? So actually it’s really important. It makes a big difference to do this in front of awall with your eyes open for a few reasons.
Have you ever noticed when you meditate with your eyes closed, oftentimes you enter a sort of dreamlike state. It’s as though when we close our eyes and we completely shut out any external stimuli the mind creates its own stimuli. In fact, that is precisely what happens when the mind is understimulated. It creates its own stimulation. In other words, if you’ve got no information entering your mind, your mind will create its own information, such as via thoughts and daydreaming and things like that. And that is why, if you sit with your eyes closed meditating, you might find that you enter a sort of dreamlike state where you’re not really focused and your mind is lost in thoughts. This happens to a lot of people. So the reason why zazen is very, very powerful and the reason why it’s so important to sit in front of a blank wall with the eyes open is that it prevents us from going into that dreamlike kind of state. We’re still massively reducing the amount of mental stimulation that that we’re being exposed to because the only thing we’re looking at is a plain blank wall. However, there is still something that we’re focusing on and having something to focus on really helps to prevent the mind from getting sunk into that kind of daydream state.
So again, zazen is one of the best meditations for productivity. And to do that, we sit in front of a blank wall with the eyes partially open about 1/3 open, and then we focus on our breathing. Stusies on Zen monks show that they have massively higher productivity levels than the average person because their levels of concentration are significantly bigger. There’s extensive tests on this that have taken place over the last five years and they universally show that Zen monks have way better productivity levels and a huge part of the reason why is because they do this meditation technique. Ergo, if you would like to increase your productivity levels, I recommend that you try zazen.
Now that’s one meditation for productivity. But it’s not the only one.
Another meditation technique for productivity that I would like to recommend to you is Trataka / Candle Gazing Meditation. This is a meditation where we are focusing our gaze on one particular point. So traditionally we would focus our gaze on a lit candle. Hence why this meditation is also called candle gazing. However, you certainly do not need to do it on a lit candle in trataka. The most important thing is that you hold your eyes. You hold your gaze completely still. And this is hugely important for one psychological, neurological kind of reason, which is that when we hold our gaze still the mind becomes still.
Now, the reason why is really interesting actually, the reason why this is true is because there is a direct link between movement of the eyes and the activity of mind. So basically, thoughts and minor fluctuations in neural activity lead to tiny microsaccades, tiny movements of the eyes. Now, what that means is that if you’re thinking a lot, your eyes will be darting your and all over the place. So if you’ve got a lot of neural activity going on, you’ll be, you know, gazing here there and and and everywhere. And conversely, if you hold your gaze completely still, then your mind will become still.
Now, a still mind is inherently a more productive mind, because when the mind is still or more able to focus on one singular thing, whatever it is that we are trying to do. So again, if you’re at work, Tratika will enable you to focus on the one thing that you’re actually trying to do, rather than getting lost in, you know, all the other distractions taking place.
So far we’ve seen two different meditation techniques. The first is zazen, which again is sitting in front of a blank wall with the eyes about 1/3 open and then meditating on the. The second is Tratika, which is holding your gaze completely still and meditating on objects directly in front of you. So those are two really good meditations for productivity, ones that help with your concentration. The final meditation that I would like to mention in this episode is one that is going to help with your motivation.
So I mentioned at the beginning of this episode that to be productive we need to be motivated because the more motivated we are the more likely we are to be effortful and to focus on the thing that we’re trying to do.
In turn, we need to feel that there is going to be a positive result from whatever work that we are doing. So with that in mind, the final meditation that I would like to mention is a visualization and meditation, and I’ve covered this before in this episode. The best meditation for motivation and the best visualization for motivation is simply to visualize yourself accomplishing whatever goal you would like to accomplish. And then when your mind brings up objections, acknowledge them and imagine overcoming them.
Now I’m going to give you a couple of very specific examples of this just to illustrate that. So let us say that your motivation is to get in shape. And so you visualize yourself being, you know, being in whatever shape, whatever physical form you would like to be in. Then your mind will inherently automatically come up with certain objections. For instance, you’ll say, well, I can’t lose weight because because I I like junk food too much, you know, or I can’t lose weight because I don’t like going to the gym. And so you will acknowledge those objections of the mind and visualize overcoming them. So, for instance, say yes, I do get cravings for junk food, but I’m just going to, you know, power on through and ignore those. Or Umm? I don’t enjoy going to the gym. Therefore I’m going to do a different exercise that. I will enjoy. So that’s one example. Another example might be, uh, getting promoted at work and in this instance you would visualize yourself being promoted, and then your mind would say, well, yeah, but I’m not very good at this aspect of my job, so I’m not going to get promoted. In which case you say OK that is a. Yes, that is, that is a weakness of my work performance. And here is the way that I’m going to overcome it. Uhm, if you want to know why acknowledging those negatives is really important, I recommend that you check out my episode on motivation.
So that’s about it for this episode on meditation, for productivity, just to go with everything again. Yes, meditation can massively improve your productivity and the two primary ways in which it will do that is by empowering you to concentrate through distractions and increasing your motivation.
The best meditation techniques for that are zazen, where you’re sitting in front of a blank wall of your eyes about 1/3 open and you’re focusing on your breathing. Trataka, where you’re focusing your gaze still and looking at an object a couple of metres away and you’re holding your gaze, you know, completely. And finally, the motivation meditation that I’ve covered previously
And that is our episode on meditation for productivity.
Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison