5 Things Everyone Should Know About Meditation
As with many things in life, when it comes to meditation, many people psych themselves out before they start. Also, many people approach meditation with different ideas and expectations about what it is or isn't, or what type of experience they are "supposed to be" having. When meditation fails to meet their preconceived expectations, they quit. After teaching a lot of folks meditation, here are a few items I think everyone should know whether new to the practice, or looking to stay committed to the path.
1. The calm, peaceful mind associated with meditation is a result of the practice, not the prerequisite for it. Paying attention to what the mind does and where it goes during practice IS meditation. The busy "monkey" mind that derails so many people's practices is just the thing one should be paying attention to as the practice. The mind is mainly just trying to get your attention with all of its chatter. Pay attention to what it is saying with your full awareness, and it will start to settle. Bam.
2. Meditation is under no requirement to deliver a relaxed or transcendent experience. Rather, the power of meditation is in simply paying attention to the experience you actually are having during the practice, and letting go of the attempts to have it be something different. It creates a safe place to release all of the harmful, toxic crap you've been storing up in your "mental attic" for months, years, or decades. This leads to the cultivation of the calm, peaceful mind that got you interested in meditation to begin with. Boom.
3. Meditation is just a practice. What matters is the impact it has on your daily life. The science shows that within a few short weeks of a regular practice, your brain literally begins rewiring itself for increased self-awareness and emotional balance, among other things. This may even improve the function of your immune system and other critical organs in your body, in addition to improving your communication, task efficiency, productivity and effectiveness, and ability to love, forgive, and nurture. Wow.
4. If you are breathing, you can meditate. All it really takes is breath, a little time, and a fair amount of willingness. If you're not currently breathing, meditation is far less practical, not to mention a lot less necessary. Simple.
5. All of the reasons you are telling yourself you "can't" meditate are the exact reasons you should be meditating. Not having enough time, having a crazy mind, or feeling like you just can't do it are all perfect reasons to begin a practice, because these are the exact things that are causing you to be stressed, cranky, unable to sleep, or even physically ill. Meditation, at least as I teach it, is a life skill that will make your life a better place to live. It's not "airy-fairy" or "for other people to do." It's for you, and it's doable, appropriate, and for most people, necessary. Period.
Thanks for listening. That's all I really have for now.