Meditation for High Achievers

Meditation for high achievers – Meditation is tough, especially when you’re a high achiever. 

There, I said it. 

I’ve been practicing meditation for almost 20 years and it’s still wickedly hard for me to do.

Between:

  1. my busy high achieving brain thinking all the things at once
  2. the wild intrusive thoughts from my OCD
  3. my generalized anxiety about life, the universe and everything
  4. my phone and watch receiving notifications throughout the day
  5. our one cat either having the zoomies and making all kinds of noise. She can also be screaming at me because she wants to sleep on my lap
  6. our dog bopping his nose into my arm to get some snuggles. Scaring the crap out of me when he sneaks up and licks my face when my eyes are closed
  7. all the regular distractions and stressors of life
  8. the unrealistic expectations of meditation as portrayed in the media and on social media platforms like Instagram
  9. the pressure to meditate for a certain length of time each day at the same time each day. 

Meditation ain’t easy. As you know, especially meditation for high achievers

That being said, there’s a reason (a number of reasons actually) why I continue to come back to this practice.

I’ve just had to play with it to make it work for me.

Friendly reminder — it’s called a Meditation Practice, not a Meditation Perfect.

It’s called a Meditation Practice, not a Meditation Perfect

This might be news to you, High Achiever, but meditation isn’t about the outcome. It’s about the process.

That was really hard for me to actually accept, especially at the beginning. When I thought I was being gentle with myself and embracing the journey. In reality, though, I was just working towards having a consistent outcome.

I wanted to feel calm, emotionally regulated, and maybe even a hint of bliss every time I finished a meditation practice. Sometimes that happens. Most times not so much.

I was also working towards this goal to be like some of the big spiritual teachers out there. Those who meditate for an hour or three every morning. I mean, it’s all well and good that Depak Chopra has 2 hours every morning to meditate. Which works for him, but I don’t have that kind of time or that kind of brain.

The Real Goal of Meditation for High Achievers

Plus the whole idea of a meditation practice isn’t to sit down and completely shut off your thinking brain while you breathe slowly with your eyes closed.

It’s not to achieve more productivity, or optimize your health (although it does help with both of those things.)

It’s also not meant to help you feel calmer (even though it sometimes does that, but not always).

The intent behind meditation is to know yourself better.

Because we’re always changing, adapting, growing and learning. It’s not like we’ll reach a certain milestone with meditation where it’s like “Bing! Yup, mastered that.”

Learning more about who you are is a life-long process. So we have to keep practicing interacting and with ourselves. Connecting to our inner world and Inner Objective Observer and all of the parts that make up who we are. We’ll never have ourselves perfectly and completely figured out – and I think that’s kind of exciting!

I love it when I surprise myself, don’t you?

Sometimes, though, meditation can surprise us in the worst possible way.

Meditation practice for high achievers can surprise us in unexpected ways—sometimes revealing uncomfortable truths.

Meditation isn’t always the right choice

As I’ve already shared, meditation doesn’t always lead to a blissed out, calm state. It can actually reveal some really uncomfortable truths and emotions before it leads to that place of inner peace and calm. In fact, there are many cases where meditation can actually be harmful or dangerous.

I was leading a group meditation several years ago and I noticed one of the participants was showing signs of an activated nervous system:

  • quick, ragged breathing
  • twitching, bouncing the legs and feet, and shifting around
  • grimacing and tightening their eyes and fists

So I came over to him, gently tapped his foot to get his attention and quietly. I gave him something else to focus on. I then completed the meditation with the rest of the group.

Afterwards he came up to me and shared that the breathing exercises brought him back to the combat breathing. A breathing he was taught in the military and triggered a PTSD flashback for him. He was grateful that I brought him back to the present Giving him another way to continue with the meditation so his flashback didn’t take over.

Meditation for high achievers: Tailoring Meditation for Personal Need

For myself, I remember when my nervous system was feeling really dysregulated with lots of my own PTSD and complex PTSD close to the surface. I sat down to meditate, and then all of a sudden I was outside walking my dog about 20 minutes away from our home. I had no idea how I got there, and I was just grateful that our dog had a leash on, that I was wearing a jacket and shoes, and that I knew where I was so I could get us back home. That was one of the strongest dissociative experiences I’ve ever had and it kind of shook me, to be honest.

A client of mine was really struggling to do the seated, still meditation because of her ADHD. She was getting really frustrated because she really liked the 1 – 3 minute meditations in the Creating Calm app, but the longer ones were just not working for her. It’s actually a pretty common thing nowadays that people either: (A) struggle to sit still long enough to meditate, or (B) fall asleep. 

For all three of these circumstances, and for many other reasons, it’s important for us to adapt our meditation practice so that it works for us.

Adapting your Meditation Practice as a High Achiever

Now that you know the true intention of meditation before modern interpretations and commercialization of the practice changed it, let’s talk about the different ways the practice could look like for you.

Meditation changes how we view life in general – and that goes far beyond what you can achieve sitting with your eyes closed paying attention to your breathing.

Because we’re using meditation to gain that deeper insight into how we really work beyond our egoic reactions to life, it gives us ways we can take meditation off the cushion. In difficult or busy situations, we’re able to practice meditation by noticing and quieting our mental chatter (vrittis). Being present and connecting with others, including strangers, over our shared need for safety, love, and belonging is meditation in action.

Discover your own meditation practice as a high achiever—some days it might be a minute, others an hour.

Going for a walk, doing the dishes, cleaning the house, or doing something where we can:

  •  let our mind wander, and then remove ourselves from the steady stream of thoughts
  • or listen to a guided audio visualization 

…that’s also meditation.

High Achievers Guide to Personalized Meditation

As a high achiever, meditation doesn’t have to look a certain way, or follow a particular pattern, or be at the same time every day, or be a certain length of time.

There’s a reason why I’ve made so many different lengths of guided meditations in the Creating Calm app. I truly believe you just have to meditate until you’re done.

Some days that might be 60 seconds. Some days that might be 45 minutes or an hour. Keep the focus on discovering more about the truest version of you. Move past the beliefs you were taught, the way society tells you to be, and the thought patterns you have learned that don’t really serve you anymore.

Take a moment to spend time with you and just hear what you have to say,

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I am Light - India Arie