Meditation is a practice where you can use a technique known as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular thing, idea, thought, or activity. It allows you to train your mind on attention and awareness, to achieve mental clarity, and an emotional calm stable state.
Here are some reasons why you should meditate:
I would like to first state that there are different styles of meditation, and should not be seen as a one size fits all. There are some basic principles that will assist you in your journey in learning to and practicing meditation.
Learning to meditate
With mindfulness meditation, we are training the mind on how to stay focused and to keep paying attention to our breathing while inhaling and exhaling. The idea is to identify when the mind is distracted and wonders from the breathing technique, so we strengthen the skill to return to breathing and ultimately build the muscles of staying focused, paying attention and being mindful.
By practicing how to focus and maintain our attention to our breathing exercise, we are training and developing our ability to return to, and focus on, the present moment, and we learn how to focus ourselves in the now, in our current thoughts and or feelings with intention.
As simple as it may seem to practice mindful meditation, the practice of it will require your patience, so take your time. When I first started it was hard to maintain the focus, the ability to connect my mind to where I wanted. I was surprised at how much time I needed practicing the technique to get there, but with patience and practice, I did, and it is worth it.
Meditation for a Beginner
The practice of mindful meditation strengthens our ability to focus and maintain that focus for as long as we wish, it is not going to be some magical way to get rid of everything in our minds and remove all the thoughts and or ideas that we process daily. To reiterate, the goal is the practice of paying attention to our breathing, and then constantly going back to breathing when we become aware that our attention or thoughts have moved away from it.
Before you begin, get comfortable and prepare yourself with the idea that you will be sitting still for a few minutes. If you would like to try now, read to the end of this paragraph and go ahead, begin with focusing on inhaling and exhaling, focus on your breathing. Ask yourself, what part of your body do you feel your breathing the most? Is it in your In your stomach? In your nose? But still maintain your attention on inhaling and exhaling. Continue the activity for about 2 to 3 minutes, take a deep breath in, expand your stomach, and then exhale out slowly, acknowledge how your stomach contracts back in.
How was that for you? Did you notice how long it was before your mind wandered away from your breathing exercise? Did you notice how many thoughts came into your mind even though you were trying to think of nothing? As your mind wandered off, was it some time before you realized it and returned to breathing? or back to this post? We often overthink situations or thoughts, and make them bigger than they actually are. We ask ourselves things like, “It’s month end and rent will be due” “what is happening with the election” “will everything be OK with the pandemic” or “I don’t have time to meditate or pray, I have too many things to do.
The practice of mindful meditation is to train ourselves on how to identify when our minds are constantly on overdrive everyday, and learn how to slow it down so that we’re not overwhelmed, feeling scared, anxious or hopeless. We learn how to take a pause from all the chaos and its resulting thoughts for just a little while, so we can choose what we’d like to focus on.
We've all experienced these kinds of distractions, and with everything going on in the world, it’s going to happen even more. If you have noticed this about yourself, you’ve discovered how often we are in our heads, how often we allow our thoughts to go places, exploring the future or the past, and ultimately, not being “in the now”. but it doesn’t have to be like that. Meditation helps us stay in tune with ourselves, by looking into our hearts, thoughts and feelings, ultimately having healthier relationships with others as well as ourselves.
For me personally, I begin with greeting God, being thankful for my life, family and friends. I pray, not only for those close to me but for all in existence, I continue by connecting to God and all living things. This is one of the most rewarding and overwhelming feelings in my heart, in my soul, it brings peace and quiet to the point where I miss it when I don’t get a chance to do it. It enhances my ability to respond well to bad or negative situations, I am able to discern what choices I should make to better my life and those around me. I am able to discern truth from falsehoods, and believe me there is a plethora of falsehoods going around these days.
Of course meditation is not going to make everything in your life run smoother, but it will give you needed time alone. It will give you the opportunity to evaluate things in your life that you may need to change and or improve, it provides a way to self reflect and take care
of your emotional, mental and overall health. Given everything the world is going through with a pandemic, civil, and social unrest, it is easy to feel depressed, anxious, lost and not have hope that things are going to improve. Allowing yourself to have this downtime, meditating, connecting with God (or the universe as you may hear), searching within ourselves, and asking for guidance may help. We should aim to strengthen our ability to create peace, clarity, and understanding, not only within ourselves but as a collective. Searching for knowledge and finding answers could lead to making better decisions, for ourselves, friends, families and our communities.