GQ Insider, Menswear Journalist, and Weirdness Enthusiast Parker York Smith of www.thelooksmith.com talks about his journey to meditation.
I always thought meditation was stupid. Even as a child I can remember cartoons mocking the ommmmmm and woo-sah chants and engraining in me an idea of buffoonery involving the whole process. As I grew older, celebrities that I looked up to started to endorse it, saying that daily meditation unlocked their creativity or let them step away from the stress of their everyday lives - because being rich and famous was sooooo stressful, I’d thought. It honestly seemed a lot like some sort of hippy-dippy thing to make people feel like they were being productive while actually they were doing…well, nothing. Also I didn’t wear any beaded necklaces, Birkenstocks or oversized linen shirts so I couldn’t possibly have a place in the world of meditation, right?
I should mention that I’m a guy from the Midwest who grew up in a relatively closed-minded area. Aside from my close group of friends, the majority of people from my hometown believe mostly the same things that everyone else believes and do the same things that mostly everyone else does. You couldn’t even get away with dressing differently than your peers, let alone expressing interest in something as free-spirited as meditation. If you’re feeling like something’s missing, have a drink. "That’s what beer is for man," I can picture them saying. Thankfully, in the years since I moved away, my town has progressed leaps and bounds in the field of open-mindedness. I even have friends who are yoga teachers and mental health coaches. It’s really awesome.
Only once I gave myself the freedom to fail, did I finally give in to meditation. I started with five minutes. I laid out a towel on the ground, sat down Indian-style, set my phone’s timer and closed my eyes. I pushed passed my thoughts. I let my mind wander where it wanted without control. I felt like I was having a major breakthrough. I was doing so well as a first timer that I decided I deserved to check the timer, so I did. 90 seconds had passed. My attention span for nothingness was that of a little girly man. Rather than getting frustrated with myself and quitting like I would with most things in my life, I pushed through. I went the full five minutes. Nothing much happened in the way of enlightenment, but I told myself that I would try it again the next day, so I did. That was six months ago and I’m now doing an almost daily mediation of around 25 minutes.
My experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. I’m happier. I forgive others and myself more easily. If you’ve ever known the feeling of a healthy addiction to working out, I equate it to that. It’s something that I look forward to each day as a reward for working hard and as motivation to keep it up. The pieces of my life aren’t exactly where I want them to be yet, but I know that since beginning meditation I have made more strides forward in my personal and professional career than in the rest of my adulthood combined. I don’t pretend to have the key to the universe, but I will say that things that would’ve once bothered me don’t anymore. I’m able to recognize the gravity of situations and understand whether it’s worth taking the time and effort to upset myself or not.
If you’re in a place in life where you’re pissed off more than you’d like to be, or waking up in a funk on the regular, I’d recommend giving meditation a try. As a guy who went from total non-believer to practicing participant, I can promise that pushing through the walls of confusion will lead to deeper, more meaningful states of mind. These will carry over into your everyday life and you’ll start to realize that the people you surround yourself with will become more positive towards you because of the positivity you’re bringing into their lives. It’s cyclical, really - you just have to believe in your own ability and understand that it’s going to take time.
P.S. Meditation doesn’t have to carry the stigma of a long beard and baggy linen dashikis. Think of it as a tool to help you become the best possible version of yourself. You’re not going to start craving boba tea and become a vegan. Unless you discover you do want all of those things, which is great too. Meditation is great for students, athletes, and businessmen alike.
Parker on Parker: I’m a dude in his 20’s still very much figuring everything out. I hail from the Midwest but have been dwelling in Los Angeles for the last few years, being a pretty stereotypical aspiring actor. I’m a fashion geek, I love to walk (a LOT) and I do my best to find the bright side. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please get in touch with me via my social networks or at firstname.lastname@example.org - www.thelooksmith.com