Jay Thompson is a former brokerage owner who spent the past six years working for Zillow Group. He retired in August 2018 but can’t seem to leave the real estate industry behind. His weekly Inman column publishes every Wednesday.
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I’ve found something that is easy to do, costs virtually nothing, takes just 10 minutes a day and is (potentially) life-changing — so I figured I’d share it. I’m talking about meditation. Your mileage may vary, though, as not everyone gets the same results.
Some might even see it as a bunch of psychobabble. Fair enough — I used to feel pretty much the same.
My journey to meditation is rooted in decades of chronic — and quite miserable — insomnia. In my never-ending quest for sleep, I tried everything, including semi-regular trials of all sorts of meditation.
Despite some successes, nothing really seemed to stick. The frustration insomnia introduces tends to thwart all efforts to relieve it. Anyway, this is not about the woes of being sleepless in Seattle.
What I did find in those early days of exploring meditation was that my ability to focus and clear my mind was super helpful in many ways. Better sleep, yes — but there were also things like being more calm in stressful situations, approaching problem solving from different angles and, hokey as it may sound, I found myself with a sense of well-being. I just felt good. Happy. Rested but energized.
With all those benefits, why didn’t I continue meditating? Why didn’t I practice it regularly and more frequently?
I don’t know. I got busy. Life happens. I forgot. Couldn’t find the time. Meh. But Netflix — pick an excuse, any excuse. We all have plenty of them and use them frequently.
First came the apps
About a year and a half ago, I stumbled across an app called Simple Habit. Its mission? “To empower humans to stress less, achieve more, and live better.”
Well sign me up!
Simple Habit is one of many apps designed primarily to offer up short video or audio segments of “guided meditation” sessions. Most of these apps have similar business models — they provide several meditation sessions to give you a feel for their session leaders and the user experience, for free. If you want more sessions, you pay for them.
Typically, they are subscription-based with monthly or annual fees charged for all access. Some apps let you download sessions so you can meditate without needing an internet connection. Pricing varies, sometimes significantly.
The introduction of the app was, for me, a pivotal point in developing my meditation habits. It makes taking a quick guided session simple. Always available, you even get gentle (to nagging) reminders that it may be time to meditate.
The meditation apps helped me in several ways:
- Realization that even a five-minute session is very beneficial.
- “Always on” instant access removes the “I don’t have the time” and “can’t do it here” excuses.
- Provides wide variety of sessions and instructors.
- Reinforces the need to practice meditation frequently and regularly.
Practice makes perfect, even with meditation. Dabbling for years did little for me. Once I started regular sessions, I began to reap all the benefits. If you’re interested all all, look through the apps, download a couple, and do not pay a dime — you’ll want to try them out a bit before committing to paying for additional content or enhanced features.
You’ve got options
Simple Habit, Calm, Insight Timer, HeadSpace, and 10% Happier are some of the popular meditation apps. Insight Timer has the most free content that I’ve found.
YouTube is another source for guided meditation sessions. Personally, I prefer the apps over YouTube videos because I like the tracking and reminding features the apps provide. I’m 100 percent convinced that “habitual” meditation is the way to go — and the apps help you get in the habit.
When you find something that positively impacts your day-to-day life in many different ways, you’d think that getting external validation of that something would be of little consequence.
But we’re human beings, and as such, our basic needs often enter into the equation, no matter how senseless that may seem. Validation is one of those needs — humans crave it. We want to know others can accept who we are and what we do.
Late last year, a few weeks before I was headed to the Worthshop conference in Hawaii, which I highly recommend, I was listening to Hawaii Life broker and Worthshop founder Matt Beall on Bill Risser’s outstanding Real Estate Sessions podcast.
At the end of the podcast, Risser asked Beall for one piece of advice he would give to a new agent. I was expecting to hear what you usually hear when that question is asked: “Find a great broker” or “work your sphere” or “answer the phone” or “get a coach.” You know the drill, you’ve heard all the answers.
Bet you haven’t heard what Matt Beall says every new agent should do: “Learn to meditate.”
Beall went on to say, “the ability to hone your mind, to have some mindfulness and understand what focus is and how to direct your attention and use it for your benefit is huge.”
Indeed. As I began to practice meditation regularly, I discovered that it’s not just about emptying your mind, it’s not just about turning off that sometimes constant and overwhelming stream of consciousness. Yes, that’s part of it, but meditation is also about focus. Being able to sharpen and focus your mind, exclude distractions and lengthen your attention span.
A few weeks later, Beall opened the Worthshop conference by having someone lead a guided meditation session. Yes, there were a few people with a, “Really?” look on their face. Some readily embraced it, most gingerly slipped into the zone, stealing the occasional furtive glance.
Several attendees talked later about incorporating more meditation into their lives.
With practice and time, you will see positive results from regular meditation. I sleep better, I feel better, my stress levels are down and my blood pressure has measurably decreased. I’ve improved my ability to let things go and to not get so stressed out.
When there is something that needs to get done, a quick meditation session helps me focus and apply myself. The opposite holds true if toxicity is taking over.
Dealing with a nightmare transaction? Need to talk a client off the ledge? Just found out that your buyer thinks a new listing coming on the market constitutes an “emergency,” complete with urgent text message at 2 a.m.?
Can’t focus and really need to apply yourself to a specific task at hand? Meditate!
Is your brain full and you can’t sleep? Meditate!
Meditation won’t bring on world peace or end hunger, but it sure can help you relax, focus, connect you to nature, make you feel better and be the agent you want to be.
Yes, you have time. Everyone has five spare minutes — finding 30 won’t be that hard once you realize how much meditation benefits you professionally and personally.
Jay Thompson is a real estate veteran and retiree in Seattle, as well as the mastermind behind Now Pondering. Follow him on Facebook or Instagram. He holds an active Arizona broker’s license with eXp Realty.