Most of us have a certain set of beliefs that we have adopted over time, unconsciously, from our parents, teachers, friends, co workers, roommates, or others we spend time around. We do this without really identifying why. We end up operating with a set of default thoughts about the world, influenced by those around us. We carry every bag of groceries in a single trip because we saw someone else do it once. We wash out hair first, then the rest of body when we shower. Not because we have a good reason, but because a parent taught us that as kids. We can drive with out even realizing we’re driving.
The headspace app talks about thoughts like they’re cars on the road. Some cars are shinier than others, some look more interesting. Some roads are busier than others. The busier the road, the harder to pay attention to all the cars. So we ignore them. Let them blend together into a time lapse of colors just going by in the distance. We become inattentive to our own thoughts when we never stop to think about why we think a certain way. We ignore that we automatically assign emotion to a particular topic. We ignore that we feel different when certain topics are brought up that we feel certain ways about. E.g. having the default position that healthcare is a luxury, not a right, might mean the topic of single payer health insurance makes you angry. Not ideal to become unconsciously angry when a particular topic is brought up.
Back to the topic; meditation. Being able to spend a few minutes at a time consciously thinking about your breath, or a mantra you choose, is an exercise in choosing what we think about. It’s an exercise that forces us to choose where our focus is. Once you realize your mind is elsewhere, the job of the meditator is to bring back their mind to the topic. Being able to bring your attention back to the topic is a super power for professional growth.
The guests on the Tim Ferriss show praise meditation because of the ability to consciously choose what to think about (focus) and how to feel about it (emotion). Being more conscious of what we dedicate brain power too is a key to unlocking professional growth.