My teacher and I — just another day at the temple

The 10 Minute Silent Treatment How-to-Guide

I spent this summer living as an ordained buddhist monk at the Kunnathi temple in Thailand. The experienced served both as a ‘digital detox’, but also a rite-of-passage to buddhism. Coming home I’ve found the experience provided me with balance in mind, something I am grateful for having and strict in maintaining. This post is a review of some of the benefits I’ve experienced from meditation, and quick guide for you to get started. As always please do reach out if I can help or advice in any way.

Recently I achieved 60 consecutive days on my Insight Timer

Every morning, the last 60 consecutive days, I have meditated for a minimum of 10 minutes, and I have no plans of ever stopping. Why? Because since I started meditation has greatly helped me in:

● Managing mental tension, anxiety, stress, and anger.

● Enhancing my state of being to make me proactively aware of those around me.

● Greatly increasing my sleeping quality.

This simple 10 minute routine provides me with a sensation of control and serenity that I’ve never felt before. Whatever happens today I am in control, not because I can predict it, but because I am prepared for it.

For the record, prior to meditation I was not a stressed out person who had trouble being aware of people around me. On the contrary for people who know me, I’d probably be described as the exact opposite. The essence of my problem is straight forward, I think too much. My brain would lead me to over-think, over-analyze and over-react eventually leading me to manifest problems that were never there to begin with. And I am not alone out there. The average human mind processes around 50.000–70.000 thoughts a day. That’s roughly 30 thoughts a minute, or one thought every two seconds.

Welcome to the zoo of your mind

Before meditation I was a slave to the restlessness of my own mind, and would often fall victim to the shenanigans of the monkey brain. Even with the introduction to meditation my monkey brain would make me drift away (since focusing on your breath is probably one of the least interesting things one can do). But I realized a simple trick to turn the motivation around.

The brain is a muscle — Train it like a muscle

Meditation is a mental workout, and should follow the principles of exercise; it should be challenging, enjoyable and be formed as a habit. In contrast to physical exercise, meditation can be trained at any conscious point in time.

Where to begin:

Start small, it’s about finding the limitations to your focus. I’ve found 10 minutes to be around my sweet spot, but if you are completely green I’d advice starting with one minute and timing it. It might sound short, but you can always increase the time. Also, you’ll realize two things: that it’s hard to actually find the time to do it — and once you do it, one minute is long when all you do is thinking about your breathing. Like any workout, it’s hard to start, but remember slow progress is better than no progress.

Remember the form:

Get comfortable, either straight backed on a chair or in the lotus position (legs crossed) on the floor. Prior starting the session hands should be rested on the knees, and eyes resting on the floor just before your knees. Upon starting, take one deep breath while moving the left hand palm up to the center of your stomach. Take a second breath moving the right hand palm up, on top resting on the left hand. Place both thumbs so they are touching one another and close your eyes shut. Look at the top headline picture for inspiration, and yes, my teachers form is much better than mine.

Where to put your head:

My teacher, Phra-a-jarn Sak, had a nifty trick. A single conscious breath is a moment of meditation. There is two steps to it. Think of your abdomen as a balloon; when you inhale, visualize your stomach expand as your abdomen being filled with air; when you exhale, visualize how it deflates till your last breath. Odd at start, but I’ve found this routine to put my mind and breath in sync.

The workout plan:

I use Insight Timer to keep my routine in check, the application also lets you meditate with others which is fun. Also I have played around with Headspace which is great for guided meditation. Now just like there are varieties of exercise there are several kinds of meditation styles, in my next post I’ll shed some light on which ones I feel work best for me. Until then, give meditation a shot — you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain!

Alexander Avanth is a ordained Buddhist monk from the Kunnathi Temple in Thailand and holds an academic background in neuroscience and business innovation. He works daily as a Future Education Specialist at Dare Disrupt mapping how the development of exponential technology impacts the way we live and learn. In addition he is chairman and co-founder of Hold Danmark a startup that strives to bring awareness on the consequences of technology and digital addiction in the 21st century.

The viewpoints expressed in this article are his alone.

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