Meditation – The very word strikes fear into the hearts of some – is that you? Have you heard over and over about the benefits of meditation, but every time you try to force yourself to do it, you end up frustrated and disillusioned? Maybe you don’t feel you have the time, or maybe it’s as simple as you don’t know how….
Having no time usually means you don’t think it’s worth the time. We are busy people, and we do have to pick and choose what we give our attention to, we need to see value. We also tend to think that what we do externally takes precedence over how we are internally – but there is a direct correlation between our inner well-being and the quality and success of our actions. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” Meditation quiets the mind, reduces stress, and allows us to access our reserves of creativity and energy.
Is there a skill you would not have if not for learning from someone else? Meditation may be considered simple, but not easy if you’ve tried to figure it out on your own. If you’re not really sure what to do, you may try too hard and actually get the opposite result than what you want, i.e. you’ve heard meditation quiets the mind, so you try it to reduce your anxiety, only to end up anxious about whether you’re doing it right when you “can’t get your brain to shut up.” Now you’re just frustrated and convinced it doesn’t work.
There are so many things in life that are beyond our control, our internal realm does not have to be one of them. If we become aware of how the mind works, we increase our ability to maintain focus, we gain control over our thoughts, our actions, and how we respond to our world…some would argue meditation is the best way to cultivate this awareness.
What kind of meditation is best? Yes, there are different types of meditation – perhaps the “easiest” is
Concentration Meditation, which involves focusing on a single point. This could be following your breath, staring at a candle, repeating a word (or mantra), or counting beads (this might be why Catholics are comforted by saying the rosary, though prayer beads are used in many religions.) There is no need to commit to hours of this when you’re a beginner, don’t worry, a few minutes is fine to start….
There is also Mindfulness Meditation, Buddhist Meditation, and even moving meditation techniques like qigong, tai chi, and walking meditation: https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/walking_meditation
Think for a moment about how amazing our minds are…all the knowledge, memories, emotions ,motor control, talents, abilities, etc. it stores (everything we experience is experienced by the mind!), doesn’t it deserve some attention? Shouldn’t we try to get to know it better, to train it, instead of focusing exclusively on our external reality?
There is much more to be said about this amazing practice, but for now how about giving it a try? The Guided Meditation to follow takes the pressure off by actually giving you something to think about, you do not have to worry about emptying your mind of thought: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaRu14P9H84