We’re in a transformative pursuit in life, at least spiritually. I love things that give me the maximum “Bang for the buck”. But that’s figuratively speaking because in reality, I like to spend no money at all and still get a huge payback on any strategy, approach or tool I use in life. And that’s not all, I also like every strategy to take the least out of my attention.
Yes, meditators need to use the technique of “Return on attention” , or ROA as I like to call it, more than the traditional return on investment or ROI paradigm. That’s because our attention is more valuable than our time or money, even though time is extremely valuable too.
Our attention is our primary vehicle for spiritual pursuits. You can’t pay for spiritual progress, it’s a subtle, inner journey that is highly customized to you. And history shows that people spent their entire lifetimes struggling to get spiritual Self-Realization but got nowhere. All the time they had at their disposal didn’t help them. Every bit of our attention spent on low value-adding activities is attention lost for our spiritual progress.
And so, in all facets of our lives, we need those powerful tools which take minimal attention but give significant benefits.
Here are my favorite “power-strategies” in life for Self-Improvement that yield maximum ROA.
1. Physical strength or fitness
Strength or Weights training – Lift some dumbbells daily at home and it has a wonderful effect on speeding up your metabolism and burning fat. Plus there are several other benefits, all with a simple 20 – 25 min investment in strength training or workout 3 times a week. These include several protective health benefits such as reducing the risk of cancers and tumor, osteoporosis, aiding weight loss and lowering fatigue. And in some uncanny way, strength training definitely improves character or at least makes one think of self-improvement in other dimensions of our lives. For a meditator, that is a boon. You’ll have to train each muscle to failure during your workout though and in 12 or fewer repetitions. The weight you lift has to be chosen accordingly.
The vital benefit of strength or weight training is the fact that it aids excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). In simplistic terms, you continue to burn calories for a prolonged period after your workout, even when you sleep. That’s not the case with cardio type workouts. Hence the impact to your metabolism and fat burn is truly magnificent because the time and attention you spend during the workout gives you payback well after it is complete.
A close second and even simpler strategy is bodyweight exercises – especially squats, jumping jacks, pushups and planks if you don’t want to get into strength training. Read up on the 30-day plank challenge or the benefits of doing pushups and you’ll be surprised.
2. Eating healthy
There are a mind-boggling number of solutions in this area. But two of the zero cost and highly beneficial strategies with relatively low attention drain are
- Eat your last meal of the day at least 3 hours prior to bedtime. Do this consistently and watch the benefits you get on a weight or fat loss program.
- Portion control – eat only as much quantity that you will feel really hungry within 3-4 hours – don’t put more food on your plate on this.
The above 2 strategies for eating are easy enough to follow for life, every day and every meal, but following them gives a huge boost to a weight or fat loss program, not to mention improving your digestive health. I could list so many others, but remember, we’re only looking at the high impact, zero cost, low attention strategies here.
Sure you could add in avoiding sugar and fat, eating nutrient-rich food, keeping track of calories etc…, but you’ll very quickly reach a point where the extent of attention you will spend on all this will be a lot more compared to the benefits you get. In other words, the return on our attention invested drops sharply as we add in more things to watch out for in the already busy and complicated lives we lead.
3. Cardio workout or staying active
I’d say that the most effective workout is anything that raises your heart rate to high levels for about 20 minutes. It can be as simple as walking very fast or running or merely climbing up the stairs in your home 10 to 15 times very briskly. No need for counting steps, gym memberships, complex workouts. The simple and powerful rule then is that exercise or move or walk or run or do anything that causes a high heart rate for about 20 – 30 minutes and for 4 days a week.
Or if you find it difficult to motivate yourself, one other high return, low attention drag but slightly more costly technique is getting involved in racquet sports (tennis, pickleball, badminton, racquetball etc..). You may find it easier to stay active by playing something rather than having to do a workout for the sake of it. But remember the elevated heart rate, that’s the real strategy here.
4. Money and finances
In a single word, compounding. Any strategy you use that compounds your money over a long period of time makes you rich and the best returns. I’m no financial adviser by any stretch of imagination, but I do use at least 2 powerful compounding strategies to invest in whatever savings I create. And both have a time horizon of at least 3 decades. They aren’t fancy and in fact boring, but that’s what I like – minimum attention spent but disproportionate returns. Compounding builds your wealth while you sleep. The most famous example is Warren Buffett who singles it out as the cornerstone of wealth building. And it’s not just the stock market, you can apply compounding is other types of investment vehicles too. However, you will need to develop patience as a virtue for this strategy – something that meditators anyways have to develop in them.
5. Career success
If there’s one skill anyone should aim to perfect to have a huge catalyst to career progress or getting better at their jobs, it is becoming fluent and effective communicators. Communication is far more than just language skills, it’s about perceiving what others need and feel and communicating in accordance or in advance. It’s about expectation setting and perception management.
Besides, good communication skills percolate well beyond our work lives – they aids healthy relationships, have a positive impact on our self-esteem and a host of other benefits.
6. Family and relationships
In a single word, the most powerful asset is practicing detachment. This is a very nuanced approach where your love and caring happens in a detached manner, without expecting anything in return. It also helps you by avoiding judging anyone and accepting them for what they are, because it doesn’t matter to you because you’re detached.
When you have detached attachments, you can’t get hurt and you can still enjoy every relationship. Most of all, you can forgive quite easily. Again, not easy, but as meditators it is not very hard to train ourselves to detach every now and then, while still caring for people and being compassionate.
Being detached helps you avoid blind spots about yourself and with those you have relationships. It helps you see the truth clearly.
7. Holistic Life Strategy
For me, Sahaja meditation beats everything else hands down as a strategy for life that works across so many dimensions. It is the fulcrum of my existence and supercharges all other powerful strategies. Plus it gives me the path to the ultimate and the highest pursuit for human beings – Self-Transcendence. That fact that it comes free makes the return on my investment near infinity. The return on my attention spent is also exponentially high.
None of the above strategies are easy, nor are they for the short term. These are ones you want to keep for life. Indeed, if you are able to adopt and follow all the above 7 strategies, you will become a superhuman being or at least one with superlative traits and success in life.
The catch is that there are not a lot of people who don’t know about these strategies, it’s just having the consistency and discipline to follow them for life that is challenging. And we tend to get swayed by flashy ideas and options as well as those that are expensive, hoping that they give returns commensurate with their price tag. In contrast, all of the above can be followed with near zero monetary investment and all your life.