Christopher R. Edgar

Chris Edgar helps people find focus, motivation and peace in their work through his writing, workshops and private coaching. Chris is the author of Inner Productivity: A Mindful Path to Efficiency and Enjoyment in Your Work. You can find out more about Chris’s work at www.InnerProductivity.com.

What To Do When Meditation Gets “Hard”

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Many people have told me they’d like to meditate more regularly, but they just find it “too hard.” The reasons people see meditation as difficult vary. For instance, perhaps they find themselves getting easily bored while sitting alone. Or maybe anxious thoughts race through their minds, and they have trouble relaxing.

If you’re having a tough time keeping up your meditation practice, I want to offer a perspective that may help your motivation and focus. The perspective is this: meditation isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s actually a technique for noticing the patterns of thinking and acting that are blocking you from reaching your full potential.

In other words, when meditating feels difficult, that’s because it’s helping you see the places where you have room to grow. As meditation teacher S.N. Goenka wrote, meditation “takes you to the deepest level of the mind and allows you to cut the roots of past conditioning.”

meditation hard

3 Keys To Developing Inner Productivity

inner productivity

Looking at the number of books and articles on organization and time management available today, one would think the market for productivity strategies was close to saturation, and the demand for more would be dropping. But this doesn’t seem to be true. Instead, it seems like a new book, article, or seminar on productivity comes out every day.

Why are people still hungry for productivity advice, even with so many techniques on the market? I suspect one reason is that the existing literature doesn’t address one of the biggest obstacles to our productivity — the patterns of thinking and feeling that limit our ability to get things done.

Here’s a common example. As I’ll bet you know firsthand, it’s hard to get much done when our awareness keeps drifting into the past or the possible future — replaying arguments we had with a loved one, worrying about how much the bonus in our jobs is going to be this year, and so on. The “tips and tricks” productivity gurus offer us — more efficient ways to organize our e-mail inboxes, make to-do lists, hold shorter meetings, and so forth — can be useful, but they won’t do much to help us get more done if we can’t focus our attention.

inner productivity

Learning To Listen To Our Inner Wisdom

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One of the most disturbing things in my life right now is that I know several people who feel the need to drug themselves in order to go to work. In the morning, they drink, use prescription drugs, or even take painkillers or sedatives to make sure they stay composed, and keep themselves from having “emotional outbursts,” while in the office. Without a little something to take the edge off, they don’t feel like they could function.

These may sound like extreme examples, but in some way most of us are “taking the edge off” to deal with the stresses of working and other aspects of our lives. When we get home, for instance, most of us immediately turn on the computer, radio or TV, craving an escape from the anger, fear or despair we experience in our working lives. Like “hard drugs,” these activities temporarily distract us from, or numb us to, how we’re feeling. The fact that most of us do this in the evening to “wind down,” as opposed to doing it in the morning to “gear up,” doesn’t seem like a very meaningful distinction to me.

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How Your Darkest Secret Can Empower You

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Throughout much of our lives, instead of following our bliss, we’re busy trying to avoid being seen a certain way. Perhaps we’re designing our lives to make sure we aren’t perceived as selfish, arrogant, weak, incompetent or something else. Whatever way we don’t want others to see us, the compulsion to make sure others don’t think of us like that feels overwhelming. Our anxiety about being viewed the wrong way can be so intense that it’s almost as if we’d be hurt or destroyed if others ever learned the “awful truth” about us.

We don’t want people to hold these beliefs about us because, on some level, we’re convinced that those beliefs are true. We’d have no reason to fear someone calling us incompetent, for instance, if we didn’t have a deep-seated conviction that we actually are. Not only that—we believe, consciously or otherwise, that if people discovered our “dark secret,” no one would want anything to do with us. We’d be left completely alone and helpless.

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The Power Of Admitting Where You’re At

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One of the most significant breakthroughs in my personal growth happened when I admitted to myself that I felt like an impostor.

I’d been practicing law for around two years. My colleagues and clients consistently told me how much they appreciated my work. However, I was constantly plagued by a nagging suspicion that all the praise wouldn’t last. Eventually, I’d make a major mistake, or people would learn something embarrassing about me, and the image they’d formed of me as smart and competent would fall apart. It was as if I was an impostor—a fraud posing as a good lawyer—and sooner or later I’d be found out.

When this anxiety arose, my usual approach would be to deny it and insist to myself that I was the real deal. “No, that’s not true,” I’d tell myself. “I’m brilliant, hardworking, and all-around awesome.” Sometimes, this would temporarily pick up my mood. But invariably, the sinking sense that I wasn’t actually good at what I did, and that eventually my “deception” would be discovered, would return.

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