There is a lot of confusion around mindfulness vs meditation vs different types of meditation. This article covers the differences quite well. For the deepest healing and spiritual evolution, I believe it is important to go beyond the senses into silence. Therefore the senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and hearing need to be withdrawn from. The level of cognition and brain activity in a guided meditation is higher than in silent forms of meditation. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali talks about Pratyahara - Withdrawal of the Senses - which is best achieved through silent forms of meditation. In this silence, we discover our deepest level of being.
It seems life is a constant struggle, managing your work, your career, your family, your relationships, your health, and the myriad other things on your plate. It seems stress and struggle are a constant in today's world. I knew that life all too well during my career as a stressed out business executive, over-achiever, father, son, husband and "fighter". In my mind, it seemed without struggle, everything in my life would fall apart and I would never achieve all my goals. However along with that struggle, came a lot of pain, sickness and also a convenient distraction from discovering my true self.
I have discovered a new way of living my life, one that has much less stress, much more health, much less struggle and a lot more happiness - it is a life of flow. A wise teacher observed me recently, "Wow Vish, you seem to be rowing with the current these days vs rowing against it!" Is it that obvious, I thought? What has really changed?
The key for me was really slowing down. The most successful people I know seem to have this consistent mantra - do less = more done. Now as I struggle less, hide less, and embrace my inner being, I find I am open to all sorts of possibilities that I had closed off in my busy-ness. Slowing down and noticing, has created all sorts of serendipitous moments in my life. From this awareness and openness, my boat has about-turned into alignment with the direction of the river's flow. My marriage, my health, my fatherhood, my business are all in a much better place of flow than ever before. Back then, I wouldn't have believed it if you told me "less is more", but these days, it really seems to be key on a path to happiness.
Some of the longest living, and happiest people on the planet have a common attribute, discovered by Dan Buettner and his National Geographic research around finding the world's "Blue Zones". That attribute, is to live life with a clear sense of purpose. In business, we call this having a clear sense of mission. In the Indian Wisdom Tradition, we call this understanding your Dharma. Whichever way you look at it, having a clear sense of purpose, drives focus, intention and power into your existence. Things that don't serve you fall away, and opportunities that support you, magically present themselves.
Imagine a company without a clear mission statement - the chaos, disorganization and lack of motivation becomes evident. That is why companies invest heavily in firms to help them discover and craft a strong mission statement. As an individual, it is important that we too invest the time in ourselves, to discover our own mission.
It took me half a lifetime to figure mine out! I exist to help people find their way. I found the power of this sense of mission in some of the work I am doing with military veterans in transition from military leadership roles into civilian leadership. These talented men and women, that served our country with so much courage and bravery, had the strongest and clearest sense of mission that propelled them to lead our troops into battle after battle. Leaving the military and taking up leadership roles in corporations, I found a common theme, a confusion in their sense of personal mission. Helping them find that clarity has led to not only career growth, but reduction in the post-traumatic residual effects of battle that make for a happier existence both at work and at home.