Gambling is exhilarating.
There are the highs of winning, the lows of losing, and everything in between. You take risks, and sometimes you’re rewarded.
If you’re down on your luck, gambling can be extremely stressful. Even if you’re doing well, it can be easy to worry about what the next hand or next spin is going to bring.
Though there is an element of chance in gambling, there is one variable you can control: yourself.
Making irrational decisions in the moment can be easy. It’s important to find a way to step away from the highs and lows of gambling and find a sense of calm for yourself.
One of the best ways to do this is through meditation.
What Is Meditation?
The word meditation might conjure up images of monks in flowing robes. They seem serene and removed from modern life.
That’s one aspect of meditation. Meditation is much simpler than that, though.
Meditation is the act of bringing your full attention to a single focus. Often the focus of meditation is your breath, but it doesn’t have to be. Some use a candle or other object to focus on. Some focus on a word or phrase.
The phrase “clearing your mind” is often associated with meditation, but that’s not entirely correct.
Meditation is about focusing your mind. You’ll still have thoughts; you just observe them, let them go, and bring your focus back.
Meditation doesn’t mean hours of sitting on a cushion at a faraway monastery. You can meditate right where you are now. All you need is a little time.
Meditation is good for you.
It can help your gambling, but, just as importantly, it can help your overall health and well-being.
Meditation has been extensively studied, and it has direct effects on the brain. It slows down the flood of information in your brain and changes the connections of the brain’s pathways in a good way.
Meditation helps you keep a calm head in stressful situations. It can help you make rational decisions about your gambling. It can also you help you better handle the highs and lows of the game.
Meditation doesn’t have to be long and intense. You don’t have to go to any special location or set up a special room in your house, though you certainly can.
You can start your practice with as little as 2 minutes per day. You don’t need any fancy equipment to start.
Start with finding a relatively quiet spot, and then find a comfortable sitting position in a chair or on the floor. You can meditate lying down, but for beginners, this can be a good way to fall asleep.
Focus on your breath. Just pay attention to it. Let your breathing slow down. When thoughts come in, which they will, just observe them and return your attention to your breath.
If you find yourself getting caught up in your thoughts, just note this and bring your attention back to your breathing.
One way to focus on your breath is by counting. Start by counting 1 as you breathe in, then 1 as you breathe out.
Next, breathe, count 2 in, and then 2 out. Keep going up to 10, and then start again with 1.
Since mediation is all about focus, you may want to set a gentle alarm on your phone or computer to let you know when you’re done. Otherwise, you might spend your time wondering if you’ve meditated long enough yet.
Make It a Habit
Your next step is to make meditation a habit. Pick a time of day that works for you. If you’re just starting with 2 minutes, you can fit that in just about any time of day.
Experiment until you find a routine that works. You might want to try it first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or after dinner.
Once you have your 2-minute habit down, start increasing the time. Do 5 minutes for a week, and then increase it to 7 or 10 minutes.
Your long-term goal should be 15 to 20 minutes per day, though you can do longer or shorter and still see the health and attention benefits.
Meditation is not about perfection. It’s about developing a healthy habit. Don’t let it stress you out, and don’t worry about not doing it right. That defeats the purpose of meditation.
Do what you can, as often as you can, and before long, you’ll start seeing the results.
Starting a new meditation habit can be intimidating.
If you’re not sure where to start, there are a number of technological tools that can help you.
You gamble online, so you may want to start your meditation journey online as well.
There are a number of videos and soundtracks for meditation. A good place to start for beginners is what’s called guided meditation.
With guided meditation, a guide walks you through the meditation. You can just relax, listen to their voice, and follow their directions.
Most have soothing music or nature sounds playing in the background, but if that’s a distraction, you can find guided meditations without that as well.
Guided meditations can be a short as a few minutes or as long as an hour. Start with one that’s on the shorter side or that specifies it’s for beginners, then work your way up to longer meditations.
There are also apps that you can download onto your phone that can aide you in meditation. Most of these are also guided meditations, and they work much the same way.
Look for a program or app for beginners, plug in your headphones, and get started.
With these apps, you can truly meditate anywhere.
There are also apps you can use to track your new meditation habit and encourage you to do it daily. You just check in and say whether or not you’ve meditated that day. This can be a great way to see your progress.
Go Easy on Yourself
You may have started a meditation practice and let it go.
Or you tried to start one, but you found yourself too distracted.
The most important thing is to try again. Meditation isn’t about perfection.
It can be tempting to want immediate results. As a gambler, you’re used to instant gratification. You win, or you lose right away.
Meditation takes longer. It doesn’t take forever to see results, and you may experience some benefits right away. It’s more likely to take some time, though, before you see results.
Keep going, even if it’s just for a few minutes per day. Be patient, and don’t worry too much about whether you’re doing it right or wrong.
Try to make it consistent, and do the best you can.
Meditation can be a solitary thing, but it doesn’t have to be.
Any time you try something new, it can be a bit intimidating. Make it easier on yourself by finding support for your new habit.
Support could be from a spouse, partner, or friend. You could try meditating together, or just checking in with each other regularly to see how your habits are progressing.
You can also look for support online. There are groups online that provide support and accountability for developing your new habit. You can ask questions of more experienced practitioners, learn about new guided meditations, and more.
You can also look for classes. Most communities have low-cost or donation-based classes where you meditate in a group. It might sound scary if you’re not social, but the interaction with other members is minimal.
You may come across classes that are expensive. Avoid these and look for the low-cost classes. There is no advantage to spending a lot of money on a simple practice.
Look for groups that are run through local community centers, churches, temples, or non-profit organizations.
Group meditation might sound scary, but it’s not. You won’t be put on the spot.
In a group meditation, the leader guides you through your meditation. You listen to their voice and focus on yourself. This can give you structure and support for your new habit.
If you’re more social, go early or stay after to talk to other practitioners and learn how they started or how they maintain their meditation practice.
Expand Your Practice
Once you’ve started your meditation practice and made it a habit, you can apply that focus to other areas of your life, including your gambling.
Mindfulness is bringing your full attention to whatever it is that you’re doing. Our minds tend to be a thousand places at once. You might be gambling online while you’re trying to remember what you were supposed to get at the grocery store.
Mindfulness means letting go of all the thoughts in your head and just focusing on the here and now.
So, when you’re gambling online, try, even just for a few moments, to just focus on the gambling. Focus on what’s on the screen, the click of the mouse, the cards in front of you. Be present in what you’re doing.
You may find that your play improves. At the very least, you’re a bit more focused.
If your mind isn’t all over the place, you might find that you actually enjoy gambling more.
Try to let go of the multi-tasking and just do one thing at a time, and focus on that one thing.
You can apply mindfulness to other areas of your life as well. You can do just about anything with a sense of mindfulness, from doing the laundry to writing a work report.
Meditation can also be done in different ways. If you’re having trouble with seated meditation, look for a guided meditation for walking. A walking meditation practice can be just as effective as a seated one, and some have difficulty focusing when their bodies are still.
Your meditation practice is just that—your meditation practice. It might not look anything like that monk in a monastery, and that’s fine. Find what works best for you, your life, and your mind.
Gambling can be stressful. One moment you’re up, and the next moment you’re down. It can be difficult to keep a cool head when things aren’t going your way.
Meditation can help improve your ability to roll with the punches. It can help you keep calm, lower your blood pressure, and improve your response to stress. It can also improve your memory.
Meditation can lead to more focus, which improves your play. You can also start practicing mindfulness, which means giving each task you do your full attention.
Take a break from the multi-tasking we tend to do and really focus on your gambling. Your game might improve, and you might even enjoy it more.
Meditation will improve more than just your gambling, though. It’s been proven to improve your health and your life.