We live in a society where busyness is expected and even prized. We find ourselves stressed out, rushed and sprinting from task to task. As this increases, Meditation is referenced as a solution for dealing with the stress but rarely touching on the fact meditation means many different things. If you haven’t studied meditation, it may leave you feeling confusion, overwhelmed and unsure.
On my discovery of mediation over the last 20 years, I’ve tried a variety of different meditations, from a ten-day meditation retreat to my current daily meditation practice averaging five to ten minutes a day. To me, the underlying theme for all forms of meditation is mindfulness, being aware of your body.
Because our minds are constantly planning, evaluating, judging, anticipating and jumping to the next scenario, our brains can feel in overdrive. Mediation, in any form, is about slowing down the brain, relaxing and taking a break from the hard work of trying to predict the future.
What are the benefits of mediation?
There are many studies about the health benefits of mediation ranging from increased energy, slowing the aging process, an increased immune system, etc. The Huffington Post has a great article called “8 Ways Meditation Can Improve Your Life”, which outlines these in greater detail.
For me, the true benefit of meditating is balance. My brain has a lot of practice at racing through problems and solving them. It doesn’t get a lot of practice relaxing and quieting.
Meditation for me, is a 5-10 minute period where I am practicing quieting my mind. I want this muscle to be strong so that when I’m:
- In bed trying to fall asleep, I can put aside unsolvable problems
- At work needing to focus, I can let go of personal worries
- On vacation wanting to relax, I can guide my thoughts away from work
- Outside exercising, I can focus on the proper technique and enjoying the outdoors
- When I am trying to listen to friends problems, I can resist from blurting out solutions
That meditation period also strengthens my discipline, it’s not easy to sit still for extended periods of time, especially with all the stuff happening around me. It provides me with willpower and focus.
Most importantly it provides me with the opportunity to give myself peace and quiet when I need it.
What areas of your life would you benefit from having increased peace and quiet?
Interested in trying it out. Basic mediation is simple:
- Get into comfortable clothing
- Sit in a comfortable position
- Close your eyes
- Quiet your mind, you can do this by counting your breaths to ten or concentrating on your breath, feeling the sensations in your lungs, throat and nose
- When you get off track gently coming back to your quieting technique
Before you jump into meditation, be aware your mind might react in different ways to meditation. Keep in mind:
- Your brain is sneaky, strong and relentless – You’ve spent your entire life thinking, it’s a super useful skill. You’re great at it, so learning to turn it off takes time. Be patient, understanding and loving. Making it 1 or 2 breaths is a big accomplishment.
- Be Curious – The voice in your head is going to come up with different ways to talk to you. Your job is to gently thank it for sharing then return to quieting your mind. Marvel in how creative that voice can be at trying to trick you into listening to it.
- Each day is different – Your mind is going to vary from day to day, so don’t worry if one day it’s quiet and the next you can’t make it stop. Who knows why, that doesn’t matter, the louder the brain means you’re getting much more practice that day.
- 2 minutes is better than none – It doesn’t always have to be 10 mins. Take any time you can.
The Next Step
There is a lot of information and many different types of mediation to try. If you’re interested, do some reading, try different types of mediation, sign up for a meditation course. When you try something you’re stuck with nothing, so see what works for you. Here are few different forms of meditation:
- Seated Meditation
- Walking/working Meditation
- Moving Meditation (Tai Chi or Yoga)
- Visualizations or Guided Meditation
- Inner body work or Chi Kung
- Wherever you go, there you are by Jon Kabat-Zinn – Amazing book on meditation and mindfulness
- The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh – Great short read on mindfulness
- Meditation Tracker (Apple or Android) – Free app which helps you track your meditation time
- Calm – Provides the option of calming noises for meditations to help you ease into meditation
At CMPNY, we have a weekly meditation session allowing members to practice whatever type of mediation they prefer. It’s also an opportunity for them to talk to other members about their discoveries and see what works for them. We have a number of different break out spaces for our members to work from with varying degrees of busyness and in Coquitlam we even have a dedicated meditation room.