My Winning Formula: Reading, Writing and Meditating….

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BY Toyosi Olatunji

I read a lot, well, I try to. Maybe it’s more appropriate to say I read moderately, but I aim to read a lot. So I buy tons of books – fiction/non-fiction, self-help, motivational, inspirational, professional, all sorts really.

Sometimes, the books don’t have anything to do with improvements I’m looking to make personally, but because I find myself often in a position of coaching, guiding, mentoring, I read them anyway and often refer to the learnings when I’m giving out advice to others. Many times, I‘d even suggest that they read the book or loan it to them.

Reading opens up my mind, almost in the same way that travelling and discovering new places does. And it’s not just books, I read tons of magazines, interesting news and lifestyle articles, short stories, old letters, pretty much anything (apart from trolling blogs – those I find toxic).

The bottom life is that reading gives me life and I cannot recommend it enough.

Enough about reading…

One other passion I’m reviving within me is journaling/writing. When I was a teenager, I wrote a daily diary (pink and cute with a padlock) and this continued into my early university years. It was important to me then to record my thoughts, my daily activities and anything remotely important to a teenager/young adult. I wish I could blame mobile phones for stopping this practice, but I think I stopped when the pressures of uni got to me and always thought there would be time to start again. Well, 20 odd years later is the time. I find journaling to be a very effective tool for self awareness. I have different journals for different situations.

There’s the “I can’t sleep” journal for passing the time when insomnia strikes, the “one-minute gratitude journal”, which prompts me to write three to five things I’m grateful for daily, the “Keel’s simple diary” by Phillip Keel which is rather hilarious to fill in and my newest one, a gift from my dearly beloved friend, E; “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, a guided journal for discovering your voice – it digs deep into forgotten/ buried memories, thoughts and feelings. For me, writing via any of the above or even just randomly into a notebook is as important as reading. I feel empowered and even when I don’t share what I’ve written, I feel as though I have given something of myself for the greater good.

On to meditation…

I know this one has people confused – what exactly is it? What does it do? What do I do? Is it yoga? Do I chant/hum/sing kumbaya?Trust me, it isn’t that serious.

Meditation is really whatever you make of it, as long as you are able to shut out all the noise and focus on what’s going on with you internally. Sometimes it’s as simple as just taking deep breaths for 5 minutes or sitting still for 40 minutes. Personally, I prefer guided meditations (I use Balance and Headspace apps) because my mind wanders a lot and I can get restless. However, if you have anxiety (or experience lots of anxious moments), as I do, you will benefit greatly from meditation. The one thing meditation does for me is that, it resets me. So whether it’s once or twice daily or weekly or bi-weekly, the important thing is knowing that I can get that reset whenever I need it. Even the Apple Watch reminds us to breathe for as little as a minute and when I do that (sometimes 2 minutes back to back), I feel instantly energised.

Interestingly, might I add, reading and writing are considered to be meditation techniques also, which makes sense as all three situations can be relied upon to shut out all the noise – sometimes external, but mostly in your own mind.

This trio combination serves me well and gives me the essential balance I need to be happy and effective at work, life, relationships and everything in between.

I know this may not work for everyone, but if you don’t know for sure that it doesn’t work for you, I’d urge you to try them out.

And for those who have it all figured out, what’s your winning formula? Please feel free to write me back with your thoughts.

Toyosi Olatunji is a Strategy and Financial Services Professional and also a budding Life & Business Coach based in Lagos.