It’s the ability to catch yourself.

 

Meditation, or the bizarre act of willfully sitting down and doing absolutely nothing for sometimes up to an hour or more, is a practice that has been around just about as long as humans have. People associate it with Buddhist monks, or Indian gurus, but meditation is practiced by people from all walks of life. Heck, there’s even a United States Congressman –Tim Ryan– who not only practices it, but promotes it.

 

Why Meditate?

First and foremost, meditation is a practice; no one ever becomes an expert at it…no one. {And if someone claims to be an expert meditator, be wary, they are just speaking from their ego and very likely trying to sell you something.} The practice of meditation is an ongoing, life-long task. Consistency, discipline and patience are the foundations of gaining the most benefit from it.
Next, meditation teaches you control. Control of thoughts, control of emotions, control of life.

“Now wait a minute”, you may be thinking, “how can sitting quietly, doing absolutely nothing, teach me to control my life?”

I thought you’d never ask.

Try this: sit there and close your eyes (after you read these instructions, please), and empty your mind completely, no thoughts, totally blank. Do this for one full minute. I’ll wait. Ok, Go………

So what happened? Did you experience a void of thoughts, a peaceful, empty head, for that whole minute? Not bloody likely. Your mind wants to think, that’s what it’s there for, and now you are insisting that it stop. Of course it’s not going to. Consider it like a habit. You have a habit of sleeping at night and being awake during the day. If you were to suddenly decide to swap that, you are definitely going to experience a difficult transition from the one habit to the other. That same idea is happening here in your mind. Quieting your thoughts takes a lot of practice, but it teaches you so much beyond just the act of meditation.

 

Life Training

Meditation is a practice to train you to deal with the ups and downs of life in the real world. The thoughts that float by in your mind when meditating are like trying to catch ghost fish, not only are they slippery and elusive, but they aren’t even tangible. When you’re not in meditation and just living your daily, waking life, these thoughts –and emotions– are swimming around in your head with a mind of their own. If left unchecked, these thoughts will end up taking over your life; and usually taking you in a bad direction. Have you ever felt an emotion, say guilt, or regret, and found it completely sucking all joy from your life and being present every moment of your day, for days, weeks, or months? Yeah, me too. This happens because of a simple lack of presence and discipline. Without this regulation, your thoughts are in charge, not you. And when this happens, it’s like your life is taken hostage.

 

Discipline the Mind

I once heard Michael Beckwith discuss how meditation is the disciplining of the mind, and I have never heard a better way to describe it than this. When you practice consistently gaining dominion over your thoughts, you will find a greater confidence and power in your being as these evanescent thoughts and emotions lie in obedience rather than dominance. This idea of thoughts and emotions running rampant and running your life is simply a lack of discipline. Think of meditation as ‘Thought Wrangling’. With consistent practice, not only will the meditation become easier, you will also find you have much better control of your life and your thinking, because your mind will be present rather than distracted and hijacked. Those feelings and worries that once would weigh upon your whole experience of life, now come and go like clouds in the sky. And your ability to make decisions will be so much more focused because your mind is clear and undistracted. Doesn’t that sound nice?

In addition to all this great stuff, regular meditation will also improve your sleep because along with the talent of being able to keep excess thoughts at bay, your mind can let go much easier and that helps you fall asleep faster.

 

How to Meditate

In my next article I will discuss the benefits and the basics of meditating, and I am also producing an original guided meditation recording that you can listen to or download for free! But until then here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • First: There is no wrong way to meditate. The only way to do it incorrectly is to not do it at all.
  • Second: Start small~ Set a timer for 60 seconds. Sit down in a quiet space, close your eyes and breathe. Notice the thoughts that pass and attempt to stop them before they continue and spiral off in tangents.
  • Third: Never beat yourself up. There is no failure! Try it again tomorrow. Eventually you will achieve some peace, but for now just practice.

I’ll be back with more soon. Until next time, always do your best.

 

Photo by Deniz Altindas on Unsplash

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