Russell Simmons, the man who brought the music of Run-DMC, LL Cool J, and the Beastie Boys (among many others) to the mainstream with Def Jam Records, has a quiet, simple ritual he has subscribed to for 15 years, and to which he partly attributes his success: Meditation. Twenty minutes, twice a day. When asked why he — or anyone — should meditate, the media mogul has a straight answer: "The first, most important thing about meditation is happiness. You become a happier person when you meditate," he says. With the launch of his new app, Meditation Made Simple (a companion to his best-selling book, Success Through Stillness) Simmons is sharing his straightforward, no-nonsense take on the practice, which he first adopted in yoga class, and later infused with principles from Transcendental Meditation, a mind-focused style he learned of at a school in South Africa. It's an unorthodox method from a man who knows how to innovate. Here are some pointers he offered to get started.
Slow Down the Rush
Growing up in Hollis, Queens, Simmon's got his nickname, "Rush" since his attention could never stay put. That drive fueled his early career, but it was when he slowed down, finding value in quiet moments of stillness (like sitting in a silent recording studio working on a final mix), he says he felt more fulfilled and inspired. "Meditation got me to learn to be more patient," Simmons says, "And the only thing you really need to be a good meditator is patience."
Set an Alarm, and Commit
"Put your alarm on, don't move, and commit," Simmons says, when describing how to meditate. "The mind will go crazy without the movement, but the mind has no choice but to settle, as the nervous system settles." In his guided meditation, Simmons says there's no "right" way to meditate, so start with what's comfortable — sit however you like, wherever you like — but set an alarm for 10 or 20 minutes so you won't worry about the time. Eventually, your mind will relax, and you'll gain the ability to let go of unwanted thoughts, worries, or frustrations. If you still find it too challenging, Simmons suggests toughening up: "My daughter started at nine, and if she can do the twenty minutes, so can you."
Find Your Mantra
Simmons recommends using a mantra (a word repeated during meditation) and in his app, the "Vibration" option is simply a wordless repetition of his suggested rhyme: "rum." He doesn't mean the alcohol: "Rum" is a thousand-year old mantra, and a reverberation that can be stripped of all meaning so it won't bring up any connotation, interpretation or judgment when you hear it. "Words are static but vibrations are free," Simmons writes in the book. "And in meditation, you always want to be free." So every time your mind wanders or gets distracted, return to that solid syllable, choose it, and find a calm, stable place.
Make the Time
If you feel like you've got no time to meditate in your busy schedule, Simmons suggests you re-evaluate your priorities. "If you don't have 20 minutes, you need two hours," he says. "Everyone should re-boot their brain every day." That's because maintaining your mind should have equal importance as taking care of your career, body, home, and money. He recommends the morning as the best time to do it, and suggests in his book that you get creative about where to meditate if you don't think you have a quiet spot: Try the car, a stairwell, or a hallway.