Being Still: How Doing Nothing Is Essential For Success

by Deepak Chopra

Most of us were brought up to believe in the Law of Most Effort and Busyness. Particularly in the US, there is a strong cultural belief that success can only be achieved through relentless effort and endless nights “burning the midnight oil.”

If something comes easily, we have a tendency not to value it as much as something for which we struggle.

Yet, if we look at nature, we see its intelligence functions with effortless ease. In the ebb and flow of the tides, the blossoming of a flower and the movement of stars, we don’t see nature straining.

Birds aren’t led on their migratory paths by a coach calling out, “No pain, no gain!” They don’t lie awake at night wondering how they can get ahead, or feeling stress about everything still on their to-do lists. They follow their own internal rhythms, which are in harmony with the universe’s infinite organizing power.

In the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, this is known as the Law of Least Effort, which is the principle that we can accomplish more by doing less if we’re not wasting energy struggling and trying to force outcomes that aren’t ready to manifest.

Do Less and Be More

If you want to align yourself with the infinite organizing power of the universe, the first and most important step is to spend time each day in the inner quiet of meditation.

Meditation takes you beyond the busy chatter of the mind, into a state of expanded awareness. You connect to what is known as the field of infinite possibilities, or pure potentiality; you are open and receptive to new ideas, fresh perspectives and flashes of insight.

The world’s great innovators, athletes and other high achievers have described this state as “being in the flow,” being in the right place at the right time, or a state of grace. Time seems to stand still, and instead of struggling and trying to force things to happen, everything you need comes naturally to you.

You do less and accomplish more. You aren’t burdened by the past or worried about the future; you are flowing in the ever-present, eternal now. This higher state of consciousness, which you can access through meditation, is the birthplace of all creativity.

Expand Your Focus and Concentration

Taking time to experience stillness in meditation will also help you to develop focus and concentration. It trains the brain to stay focused on the task at hand, rather than letting your attention be pulled away by every passing thought and distraction.

This one-pointed attention makes you more productive and less stressed. There is a lot of interesting research showing how meditation and mindfulness improve the brain’s focus and concentration.

A study carried out by the Kyoto Convention Bureau found that when people meditated for at least ten minutes before a meeting, they were much better at focusing, listening, retaining information and completing projects.

Meditation Sharpens Your Ability to Learn

Meditation will help you tap into your brain’s unimaginable powers to learn and adapt − and to accomplish with more effortless ease.

While scientists used to believe that beyond a certain age, the brain couldn’t change or grow, we now know the brain has a quality known as plasticity, enabling it to grow new neurons and transform throughout our lives.

A growing body of research is finding meditation is a powerful tool for awakening new neural connections and even transforming regions of the brain.

A major study led by Massachusetts General Hospital found that participants who meditated for just eight weeks (an average of 27 minutes each day) experienced significant changes in their brain structure, including increased density in regions associated with memory, learning, self-awareness, compassion and introspection.

Conversely, MR images showed decreased density in the amygdala, which plays a vital role in anxiety and stress. It’s amazing to consider how many benefits we reap from the simple experience of being still and silent.

We’ve only discussed a few of the ways in which meditation enhances our health, emotional wellbeing and our ability to tap into our highest potential. Even more important than discussing these benefits is having a direct experience of meditation.

If you’ve never meditated, I encourage you to begin. If you used to meditate and stopped, now is the perfect time to return to your practice and experience all the gifts that await you.

Getting Started with Meditation: The 21-Day Meditation Experience

When you’re beginning to develop a meditation practice, it is helpful to have structured guidance and a supportive community encouraging your efforts to take the time for meditation.

These elements are part of the 21-Day Meditation Experience, which is a free online experience that guides you in the foundations of meditation with three weeks of daily audio meditation and tips on establishing a practice.

On March 16, Oprah Winfrey and I will be launching the next all-new, 21-Day Meditation Experience, Manifesting True Success. You can learn more and register here.

To get you started now, here is a powerful meditation technique you can try:

So Hum Meditation

1. Choose a place where you won’t be disturbed. Sit in a chair or on the floor, using blankets and pillows to make yourself as comfortable as possible.

2. Close your eyes and for a few minutes and observe the inflow and outflow of your breath.

3. Now, take a slow, deep breath through your nose, while thinking or silently repeating the word, "So."

4. Then, slowly exhale through your nose while silently repeating the word, "Hum." Continue to allow your breath to flow easily, silently repeating, "So...Hum..." with each inflow and outflow of the breath. Whenever your attention drifts to thoughts in your mind, sounds in the environment, or sensations in your body, gently return to your breath, silently repeating, "So...Hum..."

5. Do this process for 10 minutes. Just breathe easily and effortlessly, without trying to concentrate. When the time is up, sit with your eyes closed for a few minutes before going about your usual activities. As you continue to meditate, you can extend your practice period to 20 or 30 minutes.

Don’t worry if you find your mind wandering, if you find it difficult to relax, or if you can’t complete 10 full minutes.

With time and practice, you will find a rhythm to this process unfold effortlessly, and you will begin to experience tremendous mind, body and spirit benefits. You will find your flow.

About Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience

"Oprah and Deepak's 21-Day Meditation Experience" is a powerful guide of daily audio meditations voiced by Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra. Over 3.6 million people from around the globe have learned mediation through this powerful event. Join Deepak and Oprah, starting March 16, for this transformative experience. Register here.