I’m not a Buddhist Monk or a meditation expert, but I can tell you that Meditation has helped me in my life and is slowly but surely guiding me in my self-discovery journey.
Meditation has given me an inner peace that acts as a hidden support, which until now, I didn’t appreciate. That’s probably because meditation’s effectiveness is hard to measure as its results are not immediate and not very apparent like something you see with diets or exercise.
But then again, the mind is far more complex than the body.
Meditation has been the focus of many books, articles, and research studies. There have been many successful scientific experiments proving how gray matter in the area of self-awareness grew ten-fold and how it reduces stress by some percentage. These are all clear proof that it works.
However there are many skeptics out there and rightly so, as meditation is often highjacked by new age gurus glorifying it as something sacred and difficult to achieve unless you achieve some Godly purity. And usually this purity can only be reached through them and for a hefty fee.
My definition of meditation and how it works in my life is very simple and is more relatable to most people than that of many Gurus out there.
Meditation is all about quieting your inner voice (the one that doesn’t shut up) or the monkey mind for approximately 20-30 minutes a day. And it’s exercising the mind so that you reduce your stress levels and get into a more relaxed state, as opposed to the fight-or-flight response mode of our minds.
How to Meditate?
# Sit Comfortably
Sit comfortably either in a normal seating position with your bare feet on the ground or sit on a cushion with your legs crossed and hips higher than your knees. Then, center yourself with your back always straight and upright. And then take a minute just to relax and get comfortable.
# Breathe in and out
Start to focus and follow your breath through your nostrils/mouth as you breath in for a few seconds and then out for a few seconds more.
#Leave thoughts behind
Many thoughts will arise but gently bring your attention back to the breathing leaving any thoughts behind.
# Don’t judge yourself
Don’t judge yourself for having thoughts but continue going back to your breath. Some meditations would be better than others depending on your state of mind.
E.g., Most times, I can go for 30 seconds without a thought and on one occasion I spent a full five minutes without a single thought entering my mind.
This gap in thoughts without the mind wandering off is what is deemed to be that mysterious concept known as meditation.
Myths of Meditation
- You don’t have to wear an orange robe and be this peaceful spiritual person before meditation is effective. Just remove the mystery surrounding it and make meditation a habit, one that can be cultivated so that you can reap its benefits.
- Having thoughts during meditation doesn’t mean you have to start all over again. Suppressing thoughts is also not the way but rather going back to your breathing naturally when thoughts arise and then leaving the thoughts behind.
- If you don’t have time to meditate and can’t manage 5-20 minutes of your time to sit alone and meditate, then maybe it’s not meditation you seek but rather a Life.
- Meditation will not change your life and make you this enlightened Guru, who never has pain, sadness or tough times. It’s only a practice that helps alleviate stress and put you in a more relaxed state of mind.
- You don’t need a special place to Meditate. It would be nice to meditate on a quiet beach watching the sunrise, but it’s not necessary. It can be anywhere and in any place, as long as your back is straight and you are relaxed.
- Mediation doesn’t mean you become passive and get trodden upon in the big bad world out there. It means you rather become a person who has control over his emotions, and one who can respond rather than react to an adverse situation.
How Meditation has helped me?
Meditation helps to expand your perception, allowing you to see the value in every experience and every relationship. I have seen myself reach new capacities of calmness I never thought I was capable of.
E.g., I handled a 4-hour traffic jam very well, when in the past I would have flipped and left the car in the middle of the road. (Okay, I’m starting from a very steep point of impatience)
2) Inner Peace
Before I started to meditate, the only happiness I experienced was directly connected to external factors like relationships, money and achievements. Now I’m still happy even though some of those external factors are failing. I have this inner peace within me that has given me the strength to handle challenging situations.
I have a less of a need to control people, places or situations. I have tapped into the infinite source of inner happiness-present moment awareness. I now feel the party is wherever I am at, and I have lost that feeling of missing out.
3) Sleep/Dream better
The quality of my sleep is better as I feel rested and can accomplish much more with fewer hours slept. Also as a bonus I remember my dreams much more vividly than I used to do before I committed to my meditation practice.
4) Focus better
I have noticed now that I can focus better as I am much more aware of the chattering mind in me and use my breathing to get rid of the noise and refocus very quickly.
I now, last longer in my writing sessions without any breaks. I used start getting fidgety after 20-30 minutes, but now I can focus for 45-60 minutes quite easily per sitting.
5) Catch myself quicker when I’m thinking the wrong way
As I deepen my meditation practice, I’m becoming more aware that I am a witness to my thoughts, and that I need not identify with them as readily as I used to. As soon as I’m reacting badly to a situation I catch myself and then remind myself that I’m not that thought.
I’m a long way from perfect, and I often identify with a bad thought and ruminate for a few minutes.However, I cool down quickly and then find myself laughing for being such a fool and believing my deceiving mind.
6) Faith and Trust in life
Regular meditation slowly negates the deprecating self-talk you get involved in continually. You start to act more from your heart as the fears spurred by your mind slowly fade away, and you clearly hear the pure messages coming from your heart.
You start making better decisions and gain confidence in your being. And you start trusting the universe much more making it more enjoyable to live life, and you start awakening to your purpose.