What is meditation?
A very loaded question, this. Contrary to popular belief, meditation isn’t something that you do. It’s a state being, a state of mind, or a state of consciousness. Through the practice of meditation we quieten the mind. The aim of meditation is not to suppress any thoughts, but to detach yourself from them, from their meaning, from their consequences. It is a state of being where we let go of our worries, plans and wishes. A space where we just watch our thoughts come and go.
Meditation isn’t something that you do.
But as soon as we sit down, the exact moment we sit down, all our demons surface (right??). Completely normal. No reason to run away! It is so easy to go along with our thoughts. Our mind will provide so many distractions, thoughts that are suddenly very important. It’s dangling some desired object in front of us, and we just have to chase it.
The secret of meditation
The true secret of meditation is: you don’t have to chase it. Every time you get distracted, don’t beat yourself up about it. Realise what has happened. Be kind to yourself, don’t judge (judgment is a distraction in itself) and return to your practice. You can fix, plan, talk later. Now is the only way of being.
The true secret of meditation is: you don’t have to chase.
Through sitting with ourselves, getting used to being in our own company, we learn how to be kind to ourselves. We learn to be kind to others. We calm our body and our mind. We realise that we are in control, that we can choose to go back to the practice. And we may also realise that some things are out of our control.. and maybe we can find peace in that.
You may think that meditation is not for you. That you are too nervous, can’t sit still, have too many thoughts twirling in your head. But actually it means you need meditation more! And I can assure you, there is a kind of meditation for you to ease you into the practice. And one day, even you will be able to just sit with yourself. Hang in there!
Benefits of meditation
Meditation has been well researched by now and has many proven benefits. The practice affects both our body and mind. The longer you do it, the longer lasting the effect is. Long term meditators have a different brain than other people! It is better to do one minute every day than to do one hour a week (just like any other type of exercise).
Soon after you start practising, you might notice that you don’t get so angry anymore in traffic. Or that your anxiety has subsided. That you think less negative thoughts. Or all of the above!
Benefits for the mind
On a mental level, meditation:
- teaches you to be more kind and compassionate to yourself and others
- teaches you to relax into yourself
- improves awareness of your body and state of mind
- helps you accept yourself the way your are
Benefits for the body
On a physical level, meditation:
- reduces stress levels
- lowers blood pressure
- improves concentration and memory
- lowers pain or helps you deal with pain better
- decreases inflammation
- lowers anxiety
- improves sleep
- lowers depression
You can see how all these factors interrelate. If you have less stress, you will have better sleep; better sleep leads to being able to tackle life’s challenges in a more positive way. And that again improves your stress levels and anxiety. It is your choice in which direction you hop on the vicious circle. It doesn’t have to be ‘vicious’…