Do we really know how powerful our minds truly are? Do we know that our minds can bring about peace, just the same as we allow it to bring about worry and pain and discontentment?
We are busy and distracted constantly. We have thousands of thoughts per day, planning what we need to do or what we need to get or what we need to be, and this level of constant distraction breeds discontentment and dissatisfaction, according to meditation teacher, Angie Kane.
Meditation has become a popular term in recent years, thrown around by everyone from athletes to spiritual teachers across denominations and practices. It’s credited for its powerful effects on the mind, body, and spirit…
But why now?
Why has this age old ritual become so integral to our current tech-driven existence, and how can we continue to use it to become more productive in our everyday lives?
Meditation helps us to wrangle our minds and control this vital aspect of ourselves that can feel like a rabid monkey—jumping from thought-branch to thought-branch, seeking stimulation. “Meditation allows us to experience a taste of inner peace and comfort. And the more we practice, the more that grows,” says Kane.
It’s true that we are more overworked and stressed than ever. Meditation is a tool that can help us maintain a sense of calm and sanity when life feels like it’s too much to handle.
So what is meditation?
Well, it’s much easier to define what meditation is NOT, rather than trying to use words to define what it is.
- It’s not yoga: Those who don’t know what yoga or meditation is just assume that the two things are the same. Although meditation can be use with yoga, as it can with everything else, yoga is yoga; it’s not the same thing.
- It’s not just sitting quietly: Although you do generally sit quietly, meditation is not only that. In fact, you can put yourself in a meditative state while doing almost anything, from walking to cooking. The point of it is to quiet the mind itself, so you don’t need the room to be quiet in order to do this
- It’s not hard: Meditation is often misunderstood, and therefore thought of as something that is too hard to start, so most people never bother. But this is perhaps the worst misconception about the practice. Meditation is like walking; when you start, you’re not very good at it and will likely stumble and fall. But as little as 5 minutes a day will work wonders as you grow.
Who is meditation for?
The answer to that is: YOU. Any and everyone can benefit from meditating.
Meditation increases productivity and creativity. Science shows that practicing meditation, even for just 10 – 20 minutes a day, builds up the connection in the prefrontal cortex. This, simply put, makes your brain stronger. This helps with everything from your work to your workout—basically, everything you need to use your brain to focus on in life.
It’s a practice
You can’t meditate once and get results or even be good at it. Meditation is a practice, which means that it should be done consistently. It takes daily rehearsal in order to benefit.
Sitting, legs crossed, with eyes closed, is just a posture that signifies meditation, but the meditation itself is happening in the mind.
Meditation is a method to make our minds calm and peaceful. It helps us to slow down, gain focus, and find peace and calm.
It promotes mindfulness
Today, we pride ourselves on our ability to multitask and we breeze through much of our lives on autopilot. But mindfulness is simply the act of paying attention. “It suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through,” according to mindful.org.
Of course this seems harmless, but not being mindful allows our minds to do what it wants or take us where it wants us to go, which is usually somewhere that’s not in the present moment. This causes stress, anxiety, depression, and worry, all because our minds are focused on something we likely can’t control—somewhere in the past or in the future, which no longer or may not ever exist.
Do you know how much you miss out on by being somewhere physically, but being absent in mind?
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” Mindfulness through meditation brings us back to the present moment.
We all want to find contentment, and obtaining peace of mind requires training. Just like an athlete trains in her sport, we have to train our minds. Like our physical bodies, the brain needs exercise or it, like any other muscle, will become weak and useless. This is why meditation is good for preventing brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Today, there are countless apps for both IPhone and Android that provide guided meditation, which make getting started really easy. It’s like a bike with training wheels.
Meditation in schools
Imagine if kids knew how to train their brains. This means that earlier in life, we would have a better hold on our mental state and better understand how to deal and cope with life’s inevitable problems.
There are a number of schools now using meditation over traditional detention, and getting incredible results from students, such as: more attentive, better grades, kids are more self-aware, and have overall better ability to deal with life’s problems in and outside of school.There are many types of meditation, so you’re not subjected to just one way. Transcendental meditation has become a very popular form. It doesn’t focus so much on breathing or chanting, but instead focuses on rest and relaxation of the mind, which is perfect for today’s constant state of unrest.
But transcendental is just one form. There’s sure to be a method of meditation that fits you and your lifestyle. Don’t let your lack of knowledge or misconceptions about meditation stop you from experiencing something that can change your life.
Whether you find yourself stressed out with problems that are difficult to handle, or if you consider yourself to be fairly content, you can still benefit from daily meditation. Let this introductory serve as your starting point for more research.