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The only trick behind being more effective at what we do and avoid distractions

I came across this app called Headspace for meditation and have been using it every day for the past week. It has a delightful design that helps cultivate a habit for daily meditation.

The simple approach it takes and the principles behind it are what are essential for cultivating any daily habit, and for becoming better and more effective at everything from playing football to writing to the avoiding distractions in our lives.

Understanding what it takes to get better and to be more effective at anything is the easy part. Almost none of us are doing anything that hasn't been done before. We can always find others who have been successful at what we are setting out to do and draw lessons from them.

Immediately after we draw these lessons is the time when we are ardent followers of them and make progress on our quest to get better. But, every interaction with the world we have after that dulls these learnings until they fade away into the background and we are consumed by something else altogether. To be fair, many interactions enhance these learnings too, but given the distracted lives that we lead, the net effect is invariably to dull these learnings and to shun them to the background and out of immediate memory, which means out of the realm of day to day decision making.

As a consequence, we fall back into a path that isn't best suited for the progress we initially set out to make.

What Headspace enables, and what meditation does in general, is to let us sit back and observe everything that is going on in our head, look at our thoughts and feelings from a distance and collect our thoughts around what approaches and reactions towards these thoughts and feelings are the best suited for the progress we wish to make.

Three minutes in the morning is all it takes. Just sitting down and closing our eyes (or looking out the window at the trees and the birds and the canals) is enough to remind us that we need to take a detached look at things and be objective about them.

The length of a day is a long enough timeframe for this effect to last before our interactions with the world begin to dull these realizations again.

In that sense, meditation is just like drinking water. We drink a glass of water, and then we go about our lives without feeling thirsty or exhausted and our bodies are able to make rational decisions around how to expend energy effectively without worrying about a scenario of water scarcity in the body. And after a few hours, we have another glass to replenish and so on.

The only trick behind being more effective at what we do and avoid distractions is to have a control on our thoughts and emotions. And three minutes a day is all it takes to master that control. 

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