David Ji: The simple meditation technique I teach the military, marines and police force

David Ji is an internationally recognised stress-management expert, corporate trainer, meditation teacher and bestselling author.

Originally a corporate businessman based at the World Trade Centre, David spent 18 years working 24/7, which resulted in him sharing a bed with his Blackberry.

Normal everyday life involved walking around with a knot in his stomach and washing it down with a big glass of scotch at the end of the day.

But David started to realise he was living a life that lacked intention and purpose.

After the devastation of 9/11 David found himself walking past a row of cardboard boxes that people were using as homes in southern Manhattan. In a life-stopping moment, a homeless man grabbed David’s leg as he was walking past.

“What is going to be on your tombstone,” the man asked glaring up at David.

David didn’t have the answer, but what transpired would be a journey of self-discovery to find the meaning and purpose he so deeply craved for his life.

He quit his job, moved to India for six months and worked for free in order to gain guidance and training from some of the world’s wisest gurus.

David would go on to ultimately become Deepak Chopra’s apprentice and then Chief Operating Officer for the Chopra Centre, before starting a company of his own to help people discover their own sacred powers through the practice of meditation.

David’s passion is working with entrepreneurs, business leaders and those in high-pressure, high-stress situations. His teachings on stress release, conflict resolution, and mindfulness are now practiced in many of the top Fortune 500 companies, the military, and some of the largest police precincts and academies in the US.

And now, in an exclusive Kerwin Rae interview, David Ji is here to show you how meditation can transform your life too.

How is meditation and spirituality connected?

Meditation is simply an ancient tool that people have been using for thousands of years.

Those who originally used it, used it in a spiritual context to connect to the stillness and the silence that rests within, to connect to their higher power, to connect to their god, and now fast forward 10 thousand years, we get to use those exact same time tested techniques to connect with the best version of ourselves.

The benefits of meditation

Many people give up on meditation early on because Buddha didn’t arrive on their shoulder, or Jesus didn’t whisper in their ear.

People put too much pressure on themselves to experience some mystical state, but that’s like going to the gym, doing a few bicep curls and a few minutes later wondering why they can’t lift like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The magnificence of meditation and the results of meditation happen in your waking state, when your eyes are open, hanging out in the real world with the rest of us, not when our eyes are closed.

Science is now proving that meditation boosts your immune system, it increases your growth hormones, it increases your sex hormones, and consistent meditation actually suppresses cortisol, adrenaline and glucagon. We also know meditation lowers your blood pressure, we know that it allows you to sleep better at night, and really, what I believe is it allows our brain to just take a breath for a moment so that we can make better choices and more conscious decisions.

On top of that, I believe we can use it as a spiritual tool, and I define spirituality as just a journey that you take every single day to awaken your best version.

How to meditate?

I’m going to share a technique with you, that I’ve shared with the military, with the marines and police forces around the world.

Step 1

Think of something that’s been bothering you this week. Don’t go too deep, but something that’s been constricting you, that you’ve been chewing on or obsessing over for the last couple of days.

Step 2

And now close your eyes with me, and through your nose, take a long slow deep breath in and watch that breath until it gets down to your belly and then hold it when it gets there and continue to watch it.

Keep holding it and keep observing it.  

Step 3

Now release it and witness it as it moves up your chest, through your throat, out through your nostrils and hold that breath out. Continue to exhale and keep watching it, keep witnessing it, keep observing it.

Step 4

And now breath normally and now open your eyes.

That was 16 seconds. And in those 16 seconds if you were playing along, you were not in the past, you were not in the future, you were fully present and that’s meditation.

If you do it four times, that’s a minute, if you do it 20 times, that’s five minutes.

That’s the foundation of any meditation practice and you can share that with anybody.

I recommend people do that while they’re stuck in traffic, on hold, at the dinner table – pretty much any type of scenario. All of us can essentially unplug for 16 seconds and that will actually arrest all those hormones and chemicals that were otherwise surging around your body.

Creating habit

I think we have to first shift our mindset and view meditation as a benefit and a gift, rather than a chore.

We also need to start small and incrementally. I meditate for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon, and I recommend that everyone ultimately gets to that space but I’m also a realist.

I’ve fallen on and off the whole meditation thing, and that’s really why I wrote my first book, The secret to meditation, because everyone has a different access point and everyone has a different type of style that feels right to them but either way we have to think of it as

a habit or a ritual that’s integral to our day.

We have between eight to 15 morning rituals and we do them pretty much in the same order every single day so it’s about weaving meditation into that.

That’s why I developed a technique called RPM which stands for rise, pee and then meditate. You can even stay in bed to meditate – I call it ‘Beditate’.

As soon as your alarm goes off, tap the snooze button and then keeping your eyes closed, and keeping your blanky pulled up around you, you just slide your tush to the head of the bed, put your back against the headboard and then just watch your breath – just witness it and then in 10 minutes when your snooze timer goes off you’ve done BOOM 10 minutes of meditation.

So to ‘Beditate’ now means the snoozers are winners so everyone who pushes the snooze button is now a champion as opposed to a loser!

That’s one way to do it, but it’s a lot easier when we can ritualise stuff in our lives, and if we can add meaning to ritual, that equals transformation.

Meditation sets the intention for the day

There’s a great book called Broadcasting Happiness by Michelle Gielan. She did a brilliant study on 5000 people who were shown negative or violent images within the first 30 minutes of waking up.

People were made to watch the news or read the newspaper and then at the end of the day, 12 hours later, they were asked how their day was.

And even if they fell in love, got a new job or got a new car – at the end of the day they were 40 per cent more likely to say, “Ehh I had a crappy day,” just because they started their day with that seed of negative imagery.

Then on the flip slide, if they started their day with positive imagery such as watching puppy videos, making love, spending time in nature or meditating – they were 20 per cent more likely at the end of the day, even if they broke up, got fired, or crashed their car, to say, “You know what, it was a pretty good day”.

So, imagine the seed that we plant within the first 30 minutes after waking, is how we actually intend to interpret the value of the day, and that ultimately feeds into our lives.

Do we have to give our meditation a mantra or an intention?

People think there are so many parts to meditation and I think that’s the reason they are hesitant to do it.

They think they’ve got to call on the angels, and what if they can’t pronounce the mantra…I don’t believe in dogma when it comes to meditation.

Be light-hearted about it and experiment what works for you – if in doubt close your eyes and witness your breath, that’s meditation.

Start with 16 seconds and build it up to a minute.

When I first started teaching members of the military I taught them the 16 second rule, and then I drove back the next day and we meditated again for 16 seconds, and I drove home and then I did it again, and again and again for a whole week until we got it up to a minute.

And the next week we added another minute and by the time we had got to the 26 week mark they were meditating for nearly 30 minutes.