Meditate like a Baller: What 32 Years of Meditation Looks like on You

My dad in a meditative state.

My dad in a meditative state.

Since beginning my business/podcast renaissance, I have listened to pros like Chalene Johnson and Foundr Magazine tout meditation as a key to their success.

Meditation is not a new concept to me thanks to my dad. I've watched my dad meditate religiously (no pun intended) my entire life. So much so that I didn't even know what meditating was except that it meant my dad sitting in a chair seeming to fall asleep.

My dad is a total meditating baller. He can do it in a car, at the airport or at a boring soccer game. He is not easily distracted, and he DOES NOT COMPROMISE about meditating. This is one of the coolest things about my dad's commitment to his practice. He does it EVERYDAY. One session in the morning and one session at night.

I remember being annoyed by this as a kid, we had to wait until "dad meditated" to leave, or we had to wait until "dad meditated" to eat dinner. Now that I am an adult with my own business and two small children, I see the utter commitment that type of consistency takes. And I can tell you from watching my dad first hand what type of a difference it makes in his life – mentally, emotionally and physically.

^^^ That's my dad seven years ago at my wedding. In the picture on the right he's about to walk me down the aisle. In all honesty, he still looks the same – maybe better. I'm sure meditation has something to do with it.

^^^ That's my dad seven years ago at my wedding. In the picture on the right he's about to walk me down the aisle. In all honesty, he still looks the same – maybe better. I'm sure meditation has something to do with it.

So I'm making a 90-day commitment. My guru (yes, my dad, okay?) recommends at least 90 days of meditating before giving up.

I think I can do it, and you can too.

It's not too much to ask for a calm mind, more creative ideas, and healthier looking skin! 😉

Cool as a cucumber.

Cool as a cucumber.

Now, take some advice from someone who's been meditating for over 32 years.

Here's an interview with the real expert: Steve Graham, my ballin, meditatin' dad:

1. When did you start meditating? Why did you start?

When my wife was pregnant with our first child, she wanted to find a way to relax. So I went along (she lasted three weeks). I was also writing my dissertation and having trouble sleeping. We went to the TM (transcendental meditation) center in Iowa City and learned from a certified TM instructor. The instructor was also the one who gave us our mantras.

2. How often and how long do you meditate?

I meditate twice a day for 20 minutes, with a 2-3 minute transition coming in and out. So about 25-30 minutes total each session. That totals to about an hour a day.

3. How do you look when you are meditating? Criss cross on the floor? Levitating?

I sit in a normal chair, usually looking down with eyes closed. I look like I'm sleeping. I could do it anywhere. Once you practice, you can do it anywhere, even with lots of distractions. Restaurants, cars, airports. Ideally I am in quiet room with white noise, like a bathroom fan. Music or people speaking is the most challenging due to the distraction.

4. What is the room like when you meditate?

A nice quiet room with white noise is ideal. You don't want to set up a situation where you fall asleep, so I try to avoid dark rooms. 

5. Can you briefly describe what you do when you are meditating? Repeat a phrase? A word? Mantra?

I use a formal mantra, given to me by the TM instructor. It's a word with no meaning. A two syllable word that is meant to help you avoid thoughts: the whole point of meditating. Personal mindfulness is the key to meditation. If you can quiet the mind, you can go into a gentle state of relaxation. I don't share my mantra with anyone, it's a personal thing.

6. How do you come out of meditating?

The way I learned it is that you have a minute or two to settle yourself, (breathing, calm prayer etc.) When I come out of it, I come out slowly. That's critical. Take a few minutes to slowly open your eyes, bit by bit. I set a timer for myself in case I fall asleep to start the coming out process, and another timer to tell me my time is up. One alarm for 20 minutes and one alarm for 25 minutes. That makes sure I come out in case I fall back into it after the first alarm.

7. What has meditating done for you? Can you list the top three benefits?

  1. Relaxing and calming. It takes the edge off for me. I can be cranky but then feel completely different after meditating. It also helps me reduce anxiety, which helps me during really stressful times.

  2. Really creative ideas. Often after meditating, I come up with ideas I never would have otherwise. I will problem-solve issues I didn't even know I was thinking about while meditating, and that's because it was completely subconscious.
  3. Allows me to sleep less. I use it in lieu of sleep. I average about 6 hours of sleep a night.  I have never really needed a lot of sleep, but I feel meditation provides another powerful option. And it's something I can do whenever I need it. Pro tip: Don't meditate right before bed!

8. What advice would you give to someone who wants to get started meditating?

Read up on it and get some guidance from someone who does it. I really liked having a teacher to follow up with me when I was getting started. As a beginner, I took up meditation during a particularly stressful period of my life. I found that when I imagined the thoughts as bubbles, floating up to the top of the water and letting them go, I was able to manage the flood of thoughts that feels uncontrollable when you start meditating.

Your thoughts mean nothing when you meditate– don't worry about the things that cross your mind. Meditating is your mind cleaning itself.

The best way I can describe my experience meditating, is that it's being in that zone between being awake and being asleep.

9. What would you say to someone who says they are too busy to try meditating?

It's just like anything else, working out, eating healthy... If it's important to you, and you see benefits from it, you'll keep doing it. Try to sleep 30 minutes less and dedicate that time to meditating. STAY WITH IT! Meditation doesn't provide powerful benefits until you keep with it. Don't quit before 90 days and you'll thank me later. 

Thank you, dad, for your great advice, and for setting such an awesome example of self-care!

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