"When it comes to success, action beats meditation."
That was the theme of a quote by a well-known “sales guru” which was recently shared by one of my social media connections.
This sales guru is certainly welcome to his opinion, but it’s also clear he has a simple misunderstanding of what meditation actually is.
Action is important. But how do you know if it’s the right action?
How do you know if it’s an action leading toward the goal in your best interests?
What happens on the days when your “monkey mind” is in overdrive?
How about when anxiety sets in?
What happens when the correct path is hidden behind the fog of the crazy and loud world?
Actions are field by your thoughts, which are fueled by your beliefs.
During the past five years, I’ve spoken to and coached hundreds of men, many of whom have taken significant action, only to realize the “goal” they attained was not the right goal.
And now they feel guilty. Shamed. Anxious.
They’re now conditioned to feel “less than” if they’re not constantly taking action — and they’re now so “busy” that they can’t slow down the motor enough to even identify the beliefs that are causing anxious thoughts leading to the wrong actions toward results they don’t even want.
Yes, action is important.
But if the thoughts and beliefs aren’t “right” — all the actions in the world won’t matter and, in fact, can be counterproductive.
To determine the path that’s in your best interests…
You first have to identify the beliefs that are a) blocking you from choosing the right path, and b) blocking you from traveling the path.
The Power of Silence
The best way to do this is simple: Silence.
Meditation isn’t just about sitting lazily and zoning out.
It’s not about pushing to reach “enlightenment.”
One of the most powerful things about meditation is the silence.
In fact, one of the most challenging things for my new clients and participants in our Mindful Month Decelerator to do is just sit in silence for five minutes as soon as they wake up in the morning.
Why is sitting in silence for five minutes so difficult?
Because we’ve been conditioned to be ready for action as soon as we wake up.
Action in the morning. Action in the afternoon. Action at night.
No time for silence.
As such, our brains are constantly in what’s called the Beta state.
Alpha, Beta, Theta
Beta means you’re alert and ready for action.
Most of us are in Beta state all day.
What’s the problem with that?
As Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief, explains, imagine you’re a sprinter and you’re in the starting blocks before a big race. The starter says, “Ready, Set!”
You’re in the blocks, ready to sprint. Your cortisol (stress hormone) is coursing through your veins, ready for action.
But the starter never says, “Go!” He or she never pulls the trigger on the pistol.
So you’re in the blocks, alert and ready for the race all day long.
It’s exhausting. It’s draining. And it’s physically killing you.
I’ll note briefly that the Beta state is different from the Alpha State, which is a state of creative flow. Alpha is more towards the state of Wu-Wei, or effortless flow, from which this newsletter gets its name.
But so many people in our society are not regularly in Alpha state. Instead, they're in constant Beta state, which leads to stress, anxiety, “monkey mind”, and even addiction.
If you suffer from these experiences, the path to joy, fulfillment, and freedom might just begin with a different brain state: Theta.
Theta state is a hypnotic, or trance, state.
It’s the state you’re in as you’re falling asleep, or as you’re waking up.
And it’s state you can enter while you meditate.
Cultivating Your Theta
Researchers at the University of Utah recently published a study that clearly shows the benefits of meditation to help a person get in the Theta state.
This particular study focused on addiction, but the results also apply to anxiety and stress.
The study, published in the journal Science Advances, was conducted among 165 adults who are long-term users of opioids. Participants were either put in a control group, which participated in “supportive group psychotherapy” or the experimental group, which was taught to incorporate mindfulness meditation into their daily lives.
Before and after the eight week study, participants had their brain waves measured using an electroencephalogram (EEG).
While control group participants showed no increase in Theta brain waves, those who incorporated daily mindfulness showed more than twice as much Theta brain activity. The “mindfulness” group exhibited “significant” decreases in opioid misuse through the nine-month follow up.
“With high Theta activity, your mind becomes very quiet, you focus less on yourself and become so deeply absorbed in what you are doing that the boundary between yourself and the thing you are focusing on starts to fade away. You lose yourself in what you are doing,” said Eric Garland, the lead author of the paper and a distinguished professor and associate dean for research at the University of Utah College of Social Work.
According to the researchers, it’s in the Theta state that “people begin to experience feelings of self-transcendence and bliss, and the brain changes in ways that actually reduce one’s addictive behaviors.”
When people have “low Theta waves” (for example, when they’re in hight Beta State), they “tend to experience a wandering mind, trouble concentrating or they ruminate on thoughts about themselves,” according to a University of Utah article.
“Low Theta waves result in a loss of self-control as the brain slips into its default mode of automatic habits.”
I began this newsletter discussing the “sales guru” quote that action beats meditation.
But what about the person who’s stressed and anxious (or addicted), even while taking massive action?
This person might just need more silence in his or her life. In that silence, he or she can get out of the Beta state, increase his or her Theta brain waves, and get into a more relaxed state.
In that relaxed state, he or she can think more clearly, make better decisions, and even more aware of the “resistance” of his or her limiting beliefs that might just be leading to the thoughts and actions that are producing the wrong results.
In other words, meditation can lead to better actions.
It can also ensure that you are defining the results that are aligned with your best interests, and that you’re able to attain those results without being stressed, anxious, unhealthy and not present with yourself or your loved ones.
If you’d like to learn how I can help you create daily mindfulness habits that can help you dissolve the stress, anxiety, and limiting beliefs that are blocking your life of joy, fulfillment, and freedom, click here to book a call with me.
You and I can discuss simple steps to take you from Beta to Theta.
Curt Mercadante helps driven men free themselves from the limiting beliefs and stress that block their joy, fulfillment, and freedom. Click here to get access to our FREE Freedom Lifestyle Audio Course.