In a nutshell, meditation is about training your mind to stay focused on the present moment. While meditation is becoming more popular, we’re probably not practicing it as much as we should. The artificial stresses of modern life need resilience. This post hopes to inspire people to get started with meditation.
If you’re prone to anxiety or depression, you might find that your thoughts are constantly wrapped up in worries about the future, things that could go wrong, regrets, or bad memories from the past. Sometimes these thoughts spiral out of control, taking up many hours of our day, or stopping us from sleeping at night. Sometimes, even just having the label of being ‘anxious’ or ‘depressed’, perpetuates this cycle of negative thoughts.
Often, we’re thinking without even knowing that we’re thinking. Our thoughts come in many different forms. While thoughts are useful when trying to do a job, make plans, learn and interact, we also have an enormous amount of ‘baggage thoughts’, that serve us no purpose at all, even hold us back.
As we get better at pulling away from these thoughts, we realise that many of our problems are not really problems at all, rather it is our perceptions of external events that cause what we experience to be problems.
Meditation is not just about Spirituality. While it is integral to certain ways of living, like Buddhism, it is also backed by science. A lot of wisdom and health benefits can be taken from these lifestyles and applied to Western life.
When looking at the brain scans of monks and nuns who have dedicated their lives to meditation, there are remarkable changes on their brain scans. Trillions of neural connections had changed their configuration.
Buddhist monks also describe a feeling of ‘oneness’ and ‘connectedness’ with their environment, the people around them and the Universe. Meditation has been shown to improve our attention, improve our relationships, make us more resilient to stress, increase our compassion for others and improve our physical health.
Practice Makes (Almost) Perfect
You’re not the next Dalai Lama. Being more mindful takes dedication and a lot of practice. At first, you might find that your mind is constantly drifting away from the present moment and back into your anxieties, or what to have for tea. That’s okay, just notice it’s happened and return your mind back to your breath.
The more we practice, we get better at diverting our attention away from any negative self-talk or thoughts we might be having and re-focusing on what is in front of us.
Once you get better at pulling your attention away from those thoughts, layers, perceptions, your body and it’s sensations…there’s nothing left to perceive. The only thing that remains is a feeling of existence, in tune with the immediate sounds and vibrations around us, the ‘eternal here and now’.
You’re Not Too Busy
You absolutely have the time to meditate and be mindful. Lots of people who meditate regularly say that it makes them feel like they have more time in their day, as they are able to focus more of their attention on what they should be doing, instead of the constant chatter of the mind.
You can be mindful during your daily life. How many of us enjoy a meal in silence without the background of the TV? Try eating a meal and focusing on keeping your mind clear, enjoying the taste, colours and textures of the food you are eating. Try to brush your teeth or wash the dishes with a clear mind. Make your bus journey without using your phone, look out the window and focus only on what you see, clearing your mind of thoughts as they drift their way in.
Are you experienced with meditation? Share your experience.