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A Primer on Meditation


Editor’s Note: This is a guest collaboration with my friend and long-time meditator, Jason Marshall. Check out Jason’s blog, Living in the Now where you’ll find practical info on self-development.

When you hear the word “meditation,” you may think of Buddhist monks or Hindu swamis sitting with legs crossed and eyes closed, a New age pony-tail guy communing with nature in the woods, or wealthy folks sitting in a meditation center in San Francisco.

You likely didn’t think “manly.” And you may not think that meditation has a place in your practical, workaday, red blooded American life.

But you might change your mind if you give meditation a try. It’s truly a practice that can be useful for any kind of man, whether you’re a granola-loving hippie, a straight-arrow lawyer, or a rough-around-the-edges firefighter. Wherever you are in life, meditation can help bring you closer to becoming the man you want to be.

The Manly History of Meditation

Meditation has a long and storied manly history, and it has been utilized by men from many different walks of life for thousands of years. It has of course famously been a tool used by adherents of many religions, from Buddhist monks to Jesuit priests. But philosophers of all stripes have always seen its value as well; the Stoics used meditation as a tool to develop their fortitude and self-control, for example. And warrior classes across cultures used meditation to instill in their soldiers a keen mind and a fearless heart. The ancient Samurai are perhaps the most famous warrior/meditator class. They meditated upon death daily so that they could fight without fear.

Many of history’s greatest thinkers also happened to be meditators. For example, Darwin and Kant unknowingly practiced what is called “active mediation.” They would take a daily walk where they would ponder some idea they’d been working on. Oftentimes it was during these walks that they had their biggest insights.

Fast-forward to today and you’ll find corporate leaders and star athletes using meditation to reach their full potential. Executives from companies such as Google, Target, and General Mills practice meditation. Many people in high-stress (and often testosterone-fueled) jobs such as stockbrokers and attorneys are starting to pick up the practice in order to find peace and calm, as well as regain focus.

Champion boxer Vijender Singh uses meditation as part of his pre-fight training regimen. He explained, “Mental conditioning is very important as it keeps you focused during the bout. When you have a large crowd watching you, the pressure starts building on you, and it’s meditation that helps you at that time. I usually invest 15 to 20 minutes on it every day and it has helped me a lot.”

Phil Jackson, one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, with 11 NBA titles to his name, is also a longtime meditator. Jackson not only practices meditation in his personal life, he also taught meditation techniques to his players to help them stay calm and collected under pressure, as well as more focused during games.

Even the U.S. Marine Corps is testing meditation as a way to increase soldiers’ mental performance and clarity under high stress conditions. Also, many groups and agencies are employing meditation techniques to help soldiers with PTSD and other psychological issues when they return home.

We could go on, but you get the picture. The takeaway here is that meditation isn’t just something for dudes who use crystal deodorant instead of Speed Stick. It’s a practice that is not only compatible with manliness, but can be a vital tool in developing it.


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