Quick Meditation Hack

If you struggle to meditate, or you’ve never found instructions that make sense to you… this meditation hack should work for you.

Right now, as you read this article your mind is probably getting distracted by 100 different things. Because our phones and our computers can do so many things we’ve trained our brains to alt+tab from thought to thought constantly.

When we do that we end up with 100 “apps” running in the back of our mind.

Even though we’re not focusing on them, they’re still open and we feel overwhelmed. The more your mind jumps from one thing to another to another, the worse you feel because you can’t deal with each thing right now.

So we’ve got 100 apps open and our processing power is distributed between those apps. None of them work properly and all of them are laggy. Some crash.

No wonder we feel stressed as fuck.

Meditation allows you to basically restart the “computer”, close all of your tabs and start fresh. Doing it regularly trains your focus muscle. I do it once a day and highly recommend you do too.

It makes it easier to allocate 100% of your processing power to one thing, and it feels amazing.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this process ‘flow’ (no idea how to say his name). Read his book if you’re into the psychology of how & why it works. Or if you want to be more productive.

How this meditation hack is different

A lot of the meditation styles out there try to get you to focus on one thing… to basically force your mind to focus. But your mind doesn’t want to focus. It gets distracted because it’s being assaulted with sounds, sights, physical sensations, smells, tastes, thoughts.

If I try to force it to think of nothing, or to focus on just one thing, it’s like “But dude… there’s all this other shit going on. I need to keep scanning the environment in case there’s danger or whatever. Or maybe I’ve forgotten something!”

“Fine, brain. Do your thing. Open all the apps.”

And that’s how I discovered this technique.

If you actually give your mind some time to check out the surroundings, after a few minutes it’s like “Ok fine, seems like there’s no danger here. Go ahead and think of nothing.”

Meditation used to be a power struggle between wandering thoughts and “Get back to the breath, damn it!”.

Now it’s bliss.

If you actively try to control your mind, it will resist. If instead you give up control, give your mind space and just watch what it does, it will cooperate.

Here’s what you need to know:

How To Reset Your Mind In Under 5 Minutes

You have 6 categories of experience:

  • Sight
  • Sound
  • Physical sensations
  • Taste
  • Smell
  • Thoughts
Note: feelings are a combination of physical sensations and non-verbal thought, so they don’t get their own category.

Now here’s the trick:

Just sit, and wait. In a second or two your attention will get pulled to one of those categories of experience. To something you’re not consciously aware of now.

It could be the intense taste of your morning breath, or the sound of traffic, or a thought: “Did I reply to that message?”. Notice which category the thing fits into and then wait again.

A few seconds later your attention will get pulled to something else. Notice the category and wait for the next thing.

Ah, there it is.

Keep doing that, wondering what the next thing will be. Within 2-5 minutes (in my experience) your mind will get to a place that you can’t fit into any of the above categories. It feels like nothingness, and you’re not forcing it. It’s effortless.

This is where you want to be. I like to sit here for 20 minutes every day, but even if you tap into it for 5 minutes a day (set a timer if you want) you should notice the benefits.

Watch this 3 minute video for a detailed explanation + sweet animation that I made.

If you struggle to meditate, or you’ve never found meditation instructions that make sense to you... this should work for you.
Edit: A reader asked this good question.

Should I mentally put each sensation on its category? For example, I hear something in my backyard, should I just notice and pay attention to it until it goes away, or should I mentally say something like: “Oh, this goes into the “Sounds” category?”

See if you can notice the category without actually talking to yourself in your head. So instead of “Oh, this goes into the “Sounds” category”, it’s more like you just know it’s a sound, and that’s enough.

As soon as you’re aware of a sensation, just let the sensation happen. Pay attention to it until it changes to something else. This way you’re kind of focusing on one thing… but that thing is constantly changing.

Treat thoughts the same as any other sensation. They’re just sensations as well (sounds, images, etc.) but they’re coming from inside rather than outside.

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Ben

Wow. This one actually worked. I’ve tried meditation a few times. I know that it gets easier the more you do it, and one of the most important things you can do is to make it a habit. But I never did. It always felt like I was fighting with my brain, desperately trying to get it to shut up. Other ‘techniques’ tell you that, “Thoughts are natural, so don’t fight with them. Just let them go.” But that still makes you feel like you need to fight with your brain and push the thoughts away, even though it’s ‘natural.’… Read more »

Mike L. Koot

Pete,

Do you normally meditate with your eyes open or closed?

-Mike

angie

Wow it really works

It worked Pete, and your way of articulating distractions by referring to applications and the web are on point. The funny thing is, I was in a “distractionless” environment on my wordpress, and still managed to get distracted. Great read bro. Now it is time that I get back to my work.

Adam Sloane

I was writing a comment and suddenly it disappeared. If it went through, please ignore it because it wasn’t finished. I like the approach. I haved used it each of the last three days. I start by breathing deeply and then just wait and watch where my awareness goes. I take a “what is coming next?” attitude. I have not experienced what I’d call objectless awareness. I always am aware of sounds or sensations in the background, but I quickly reach a point where, for significant periods of time, I have no discursive thoughts and nothing particular is in the… Read more »

Michael

Csíkszentmihályi is pronounced a bit like…

Cheek sent me hai

Oh, and awesome post!

Will

Awesome technique. I’ve been taking a break from meditating lately. Mainly because I got into a bit of a rut. I wasn’t getting the same kind peace that I used to. This helped me find some of that peace in about 5 mins. Love it. At the start, I was getting caught up with the thoughts and not noting them straight away. What helped me was listening for bizarre, out of place words in my internal dialog. For example… I shouldn’t hear the word “dog” or “puppy” in my head… unless I actually heard a dog barking. If something like… Read more »

I’ll give this a try right now! Keep it going!

Kat

I’ve always used the focus route to meditation. It had worked for me, although it did require consistency and regular practice to feel the improvements.
At first this approach seemed counterintuitive to how I have always experienced meditation.. but actually it is very natural and takes less time to let go/clear the space. And it’s quite a different experience altogether. Love it. Thanks, Pete!