I’ll be focusing primarily on some Buddhist meditations I’ve learned over the years. Of course there is always cross-over and other ways to meditate.
What is meditation?
Meditation is the quieting of our minds. Oftentimes we have innumerable thoughts running about quite haphazardly. We usually don’t even know they’re going on.
Many of these thoughts tend to be destructive. We have negative thought patterns that we’re used to and think unconsciously – “I’m fat”, “I’m not smart enough”, “I’m not good enough”, or something along these lines. Or perhaps you have many “What If” scenarios constantly bombarding you – “What if I get hurt?”, “What if this is like last time?”, “What if something bad happens?” These tend to be negative worst-case scenarios that occupy our minds, causing us to be stressed and unhappy.
In Buddhist philosophy, all of the thoughts running wild through your mind are “false thoughts”. In short, the world around us is an illusion. This is the topic of another post. You don’t have to subscribe to Buddhist philosophies to enjoy the benefits of meditation, however.
Back to false thoughts. All of our thoughts go through our mind unobserved. Meditation brings awareness to your thoughts. You start beginning to watch them and see them for what they are.
Meditation allows you to use one false thought to help focus your mind and clear it of other thoughts. This thought might be watching your breath, or body awareness, watching your thoughts, visualization, or other methods. But they are all the same – focus on one thing at a time to quiet your mind.
What are the benefits of meditation?
Meditation has many benefits, both spiritual and physical. Physical benefits include relaxation, stress reduction, focus, concentration, being able to control your thoughts better, and a sense of calm. You might meditate once and think – “I didn’t do very well”, or “I failed”. There’s no such thing. Every time benefits you.
After meditating for several days in a row, you’ll notice your ability to control your emotions better, to be more calm and relaxed in your everyday life, find it easier to sleep, and generally more happiness. You’ll learn that your happiness depends entirely on your perception.
The spiritual benefits of meditation are many as well. For those following Eastern Religions, you will better be able to understand your true self, Atman, Buddha nature, inner self, and your connectedness to life and the universe. For those who follow Western Religions, you’ll find a spiritual link to God, Yahweh, or Allah. And those of you who are atheist or agnostic, perhaps it can give you some further insight into the nature of the mind and existence.
It’s impossible to explain all of the benefits of meditation without trying it. You just have to give it a shot. Set yourself some time aside each day to practice. Start out small, maybe 10 or 15 minutes after work or before bed. Maybe you do it two times a day, once when you wake up, and once later. Whatever you decide, you won’t regret meditating.
Let me know how it goes! Or tell me about your own meditation experiences. In my next posts, I’ll go over some different techniques to put this to practice.