I, probably like you, would love to feel zen and have considered meditating several times – but instead find myself thinking of what to cook for dinner or wear to a party, instead of drifting off. Sound familiar? We ask Dan Murray how to start with meditation…
And for those who don’t know, Dan is a great person to ask. He’s the co-founder of Dawn, a company that creates scientifically proven and uplifting content around nutrition, psychology and neuroscience. The company is in the process of testing nutritional products promoting brain health. Clearly, he’s a busy guy, and he’s been trying to meditate for years.
“I didn’t get into it with ease, that’s for sure. I struggled for years with both the practice of it and the desire to do it, so being honest I think the answer of how I got into it comes down to a lot of persistence.”
“The concept of keeping a totally still and clear mind is false. That notion is what made me think I was so incapable of doing it and failing at it. But meditation is actually the idea of observing your thoughts, judgement free, and being forgiven by yourself when you are distracted by them. It is not about monk-like clarity – it’s simply about taking some time out to be present.
“The other misconception is that you should do it at x or y time. There’s definitely no right or wrong time – I’ve found doing it as a ritual before I go to bed helps me sleep and guarantees I won’t skip doing it.”
How to stay consistent
Dan has meditated daily since September, but it took him years to figure out how to be consistent. Don’t be too rigid – he’s learnt this the hard way. “A few months ago, I was back to back and out for a friend’s party. Realising I wouldn’t have time to meditate, and would likely be getting home drunk, and forget, I took myself to the toilet, sat in a cubicle and meditated for 10 minutes. I later realised this is completely absurd – and I should have just let it go. If meditation is about forgiveness, forgiving yourself for missing a streak is probably better all round than sitting in a toilet cubicle of a club like a weirdo. Lesson learned – next time I’ll just skip a day!”
Tips for beginners
So, his advice? “Try a few different classes or styles you can find on YouTube. I was under the false impression that it was all woo woo and buddhist monk level and in reality there’s as many types of meditation and mindfulness you can try just like you might run, lift or do yoga for your body. It’s about finding a type for you. I like to use the mantra “I am present, and I am fine” and “breathe”. My buddy Michael [Acton Smith] is the founder of Calm, so I’ve been a user for years and that’s what I use every day now.”
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Charlotte is a London girl through and through. She sweats through spin and puffs through Pilates to justify trying the latest restaurants and devouring copious amounts of sweet potato fries, burrata and bread – preferably on holiday. Her favourite destinations include Italy, the Maldives and anywhere where the sun’s shining and there’s a strong breakfast buffet. She’s obsessed with walking, visiting farmers’ markets and reading. She’s also learning to cook. Wish her (and her husband) luck.