One of the most influential minds of the late nineteenth century, William James, divided people into two categories: “the sick souls” and “the healthy minded”. He identified life as a constant psychological challenge, saying, “What inhibits the will is the tendency to question everything.” He defined the sick souls as being overcome by emotion and accepting a life engulfed by constant analysis. He regarded the healthy minded as having the capability to chose to ignore disasters and accept situations as they are, allowing the mind to solve problems more quickly.
As craftspeople, guitar builders and repairers, we are constantly drenched in problems. From customer service to bench work, our minds are wrapped in analysis, night and day - which means we must take an active approach to becoming healthy minded and balanced.
“The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will. No one is compos sui [master of himself] if he have it not. An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence. But it is easier to define this ideal than to give practical directions for bringing it about.”
One of the easiest ways to gain control of your mind, harness the power of your full intellect, be able to access all of your wit, become the master of yourself, is through meditation.
Dubbed as new-aged hippie propaganda, meditation is quickly overlooked by people not engulfed by a yoga, vegan culture. However, meditation is metal as fuck! Meditation allows you to have that same mind-over-matter that warriors and athletes talk about; it allows you to focus when you want to, and relax fully when you need to; it shuts up your self-critic and allows your inner-badass to take charge. Meditation doesn’t cost money, it doesn't take a lot of time, and you don’t have to be a vegan or practice yoga in order to fully benefit from it. So, you should do it.
There is no wrong way to start meditating. Some companies meditate as a group; other people meditate by themselves. You can cross your legs and touch the tip of your pointer-finger with your thumb (called the gyan mudra), or you can lay on a couch with headphones on. You can keep your eyes shut or keep them open. You can take your shoes off or leave your shoes on. You can meditate in the morning, or afternoon, or evening, for however long you’d like.
The idea behind meditation is not to be perfect, but to push pass the imperfections your mind keeps over analyzing. The habit of meditation will allow you to recognize your numerous thoughts, and move forward without negating their importance or having them use up all of your brain power - giving your brain time to cleanup and organize itself.
There are quite a few resources and phone apps out there to help you meditate. There are a few different types of meditation you can try, the most popular out there are called "mindfulness meditation” meditation” and "guided meditation.”
Guided Meditation is more like listening to an open-ended plot or story that allows you to relax and stay in the moment. This type of meditation is great if you need a break, if your brain keeps going over and over one idea or problem. You’ll need a place to sit comfortably, some headphones and a device (phone, computer, etc.) to listen to your mini-mental-vacation.
Mindfulness meditation is more for a quiet setting, no distractions, no added sounds; you’ll hold a slightly distant gaze about 3 feet in front of you. As thoughts come into your mind, you recognize them, and without further analysis, you push the thought aside. You can say, "Hi, thought! I’m going to get back with you later” - then imagine pushing that thought out of your head. This type of meditation is great for cognitive control and discipline. It can help you organize your thoughts and clean up the pathways to information that you haven’t accessed in a while.
A few great phone apps to help you get started:
Headspace: Meditation & Mindfulness, by Headspace Inc.
Let’s Meditate: Guided Meditation, by Heal Me Team
Calm: Meditate, Sleep, Relax, by Calm.com Inc.
Meditation & Relaxation: Guided Meditation, by Fitness22