“Mind over matter”
I don’t believe in quick fixes. I believe in small, almost un-noticeable, wins compounded on a daily basis that eventually lead to spectacular results. However, when I began my journey into the world of Willpower Science, I came across one age-old concept that promised to enhance my willpower and discipline overnight – meditation.
I had heard about mediation before, of course, but the extent of my knowledge was probably pretty typical. I knew that it “was good for you” and that’s about it.
I didn’t know why it was good for you, I didn’t know what happened to those who practiced it and I didn’t even know how to do it. But after hearing that “it can enhance your willpower overnight,” I had to check this thing out. So I committed to learning and practicing meditation for just 10 minutes a day, and I did indeed see immediate changes!
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
For those of you who don’t know: meditation is a “relaxed focus”. It is as simple as putting yourself in a comfortable position, letting go of tension and then directing your focus to the present. 
Our minds are constantly wandering. They’re worrying about the future, regretting the past, or thinking about the million things that are currently on our to-do lists. The goal of meditation is to bring your attention away from these things and focus on your breathing, your senses or simply the one task at hand. This can enhance your willpower, because as you do this you’re training your ability to direct your focus. 
WHAT I LEARNED
Andy Puddicombe, meditation expert and founder of Headspace, suggests that just 10 minutes of meditation practice every day can make a world of difference.
So I followed his advice and after just one week, this is what I noticed:
1. My focus increased
Think of your mind like a muscle and your first meditation practice like your first time on the bench press. It’s really awkward at first and you’re terrible at it. But the second time, it’s a little more comfortable. The third time, you’re seeing improvement, and the fourth time you’re seeing some pretty big progress in your strength.
Meditation follows this same pattern. At first it was awkward and I was terrible. But as the week went on, I slowly got better. By day 4, I noticed a significant improvement in my ability to focus on the task at hand and resist temptations like checking my email or Facebook.
2. I began judging others less
Part of the wandering mind is the want to place judgment on things. We naturally judge the things we see on TV, the people we see walking down the street, and of course, the person we see in the mirror. Part of the practice of meditation is to train your brain to focus on simply observing thoughts and feelings, rather than judging them. After just a week, I began to judge others less, which freed up my thoughts to observe smaller details I didn't notice before.
3. My energy increased
This was the most immediate change. After just one session, I immediately felt more energy. I chose to do the 10 minutes after work to help me de-stress from the day. Not only did it accomplish this, but it also gave me the energy to do more in the evening. It gave me the energy to resist the takeout menu and cook a healthy dinner. It gave me the mental focus to resist the TV and read a book instead. When my willpower was low, it gave me a quick boost!
TRY IT YOURSELF
I’ve been meditating for over a year now, but I wanted to share what I learned over the first 7 days so that you can try it yourself and see if you get the same benefits. To anyone who’s interested in getting started, the first thing I would recommend is to download a free app called Headspace. Headspace is a guided meditation tool that has daily meditation exercises of 10 minutes each that are designed for beginners. Try it for just 7 days and see if you notice any of the same benefits!
Meditation is one of the quickest, simplest, ways to build your willpower immediately. In our world of constant distractions and notifications, there are huge benefits to taking just 10 minutes out of the day to train our minds to focus. Like lifting weights for the first time, it will be difficult and awkward at first. But if you stick to it for just one week, you will already begin to see changes in your focus, energy, and judgments of yourself and others!
- Puddicombe, Andy. "All It Takes Is 10 Mindful Minutes." Ted Talks. N.p., Oct. 2012. Web
- Oman, Doug, Shauna L. Shapiro, Carl E. Thoresen, Thomas G. Plante, and Tim Flinders. "Meditation Lowers Stress and Supports Forgiveness Among College Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial." Journal of American College Health 56.5 (2008): 569-78