What Is Meditation Anyway?
Growing up I never really knew much about meditation. I thought it was for “some other religion” like the monks in the Himalayas that had nothing better to do. It sounded boring, and like a HUGE waste of time.
It seems that throughout my life I somehow gained a belief that people that practiced meditation were WEIRD. They were the rebels, the hippies, the monks that chose celibacy, and the cooky religions that I wanted nothing to do with.
It’s not that I thought it was bad, it was just that I didn’t know anything about it and found it useless in my life.
I didn’t need to meditate, I was already perfectly happy with my life. I knew how to read and ponder the scriptures, and how to think about things (so I thought). I knew how to hear the “still small voice” and be led by my conscience to “do what is right” (so I thought). I had no need and no desire to sit like a granola-eating hippie and chant or look at the sun or whatever it was “those” people did.
Nope, meditation was not for me. I didn’t want to be one of “those crazy people.”
Then one day, I was feeling stressed out, overwhelmed and ready to cry at a moments notice. I made a choice that my life simply couldn’t go on that way. I longed for peace. I wanted to hear the “spirit” that others kept telling me would guide my life. I wanted to not only read the scriptures, but to live them. I wanted to become a living breathing example of the peace, joy, and happiness that supposedly comes from living a “Christ-like” life. I didn’t feel it and I needed help.
Mindfulness Came First
I started looking up books at the local library about how to de-stress and cope with the turmoil of life. I learned about the benefits of stress in the book, The Upside of Stress, by Kelly Mcgonigal. I highly recommend this book to anyone that is stressed out or having a hard time learning to relax. You can get it here:
I also started listening to podcasts, like Optimal Living Daily, and watching everything I could about improving satisfaction with life. As a result, I started hearing more and more about mindfulness. It was a new concept to me, but made perfect sense.
I had had moments in which I could stop and notice the wind on my face, or literally stop and smell the roses, but it certainly wasn’t a consistent thing in my life. In fact, it was rather rare.
I began learning about mindfulness and all the benefits of “being mindful”. I immediately began practicing it in my life. I started trying to have more of those “notice the wind on my face” kind of moments. I wanted to be more aware of my thoughts and feelings, the reasons behind my actions and beliefs, and I really longed for the peace promised by being more mindful.
There are many books out there about mindfulness, and many methods of practicing it. Some teach you to try not to think about anything, while others teach you to focus on some aspect of your life and make it better. They tell you to think about reasons you are grateful for a certain person in your life and give them praise during your “mindful” time. They teach you to be compassionate and express thoughts of kindness and compassion to others when you are thinking.
One method I found told me to start by simply trying to have one minute a day in which I thought about nothing. Let me guarantee you, it is not as easy as you’d think. It was a lot harder for me to do than I expected. I could think about gratitude and compassion and kindness all I wanted, but NOT THINKING? Yah right!
I learned that my mind was completely out of control. If you have never tried it, just take a minute right now, to quiet your mind and not think about anything. I dare you!
It seemed absolutely impossible to me. I was amazed at how many thoughts seemed to go through my mind in a matter of minutes. I thought it would be easier to catch a pen full of greased pigs than to control my thoughts.
Mindfulness Led to Meditation
Over time, I was seemingly able to control my thoughts for one minute, so I added a few minutes. Soon, I was up to five minutes a morning, of just being “mindful.” During this time, I found great peace and comfort in this practice and found that it helped to de-stress myself and calm me down. I wanted more of that feeling. I wanted to be stress free and without worry.
That led me to meditation, a kindred spirit to mindfulness. I started learning that meditation was not what I thought it was. It was just a natural extension to mindfulness. Meditation is the act of quieting one’s mind to the point where they can be “in the unknown.” or the state of creation. It is when we get to that sweet spot during meditation, that we truly connect with the “higher power”, “the still small voice”, or the “infinite intelligence” within us.
When we are thinking or pondering our thoughts are often too loud to hear such a quiet voice, such a whisper to our soul. The higher power within us all is anxiously waiting to guide us to all that we could possibly dream of, but we are often holding ourselves back from gaining access to that guidance. When we learn how much chatter is truly going on inside our minds, it can be alarming. Scientists now have data showing that we have between 60-70,000 thoughts a day. When you divide that by 1040 minutes/day, we get right around 60 thoughts per minute!!! Take the math a step further and you see that we have around 1.23 thoughts/second.
I don’t know about you, but I am not even close to aware of a small percentage of those thoughts! It’s crazy. Science also proves that we are only consciously aware of around 5% of our thoughts, which means that 95% of our thoughts are subconscious and the same thoughts we’ve had every day. We are living our lives on auto-pilot and don’t even know it.
The Benefits of Meditation
Since practicing meditation, I have learned how extremely beneficial it really is. Here is a list of SOME of the benefits I have become aware of:
1. Meditation teaches us how to turn off that chatter for a while and connect with “God” or “source energy”.
2.It teaches us to tap into the power of the subconscious mind and retrain our brains to become new people. This allows us to rewire our brains (neuroplasticity) so that we can change the 95% of our thoughts that are functioning on autopilot.
3. Meditation helps us learn to relax our bodies and allow the energy to flow through us in a way that is hard to achieve otherwise. (It helps our chakras work like are supposed to).
4. Meditation decreases stress and anxiety, allowing us to feel more at peace.
5. Meditation has been proven to help people cure many diseases: from Parkinson’s Disease, MS, Cancer, and Spinal Cord injuries.
6. Meditation can slow the aging process and allow our skin to appear and feel more youthful.
7. Meditation fills us with energy.
8. We feel full of love and gratitude when we meditate. It makes life feel worthwhile.
9. We gain control over our thoughts and feelings through meditation.
10. We have more clarity in our lives and receive answers to the things we need when we can hear the higher voice from within.
If these benefits haven’t convinced you that meditation is worth your time, then I don’t know what will. It is the most amazing thing I have ever done. I have literally become a new person through doing at least a half-hour meditation every morning for the past year. I love it. By now, you hopefully want to learn how to meditate! Well, good news- I have a post dedicated to teaching you just that- click here: How to Meditate For Beginners
If you want to keep your life exactly how it is and don’t need to improve at all:
YOU SHOULD NEVER MEDITATE!