What is this meditation thing all about?

meditationThe calming nature of meditation (internalizing your thoughts) seems to have benefits ranging beyond our understanding as human beings… and yet; there are so few people who actively practice it. Perhaps it is our busy schedules? Maybe we don’t realize the importance of meditation? Maybe we don’t think it is applicable to our lives? Or maybe it is just an intimidating practice that we don’t know much about?

Regardless of your stance on meditation I would like to share some of the methods and benefits that I have gained from it. I think the effects of it are astounding, and meditation can drastically improve your life if you just give it a chance.

I am an amateur (at best) at meditating. That said, I have felt some of the benefits that it has to offer and I don’t think it is nearly as complicated as everyone makes it out to be. The thing with meditation is that you can always get better at it. Because of that, I think there is also a potential to be bad at it; and that thought scares people away from ever starting it. You are not going to become some kind of guru meditation master… most likely ever. So, now that we have that misconception out of the way we can focus on the small important steps of improving our lives.

Meditation should be done consistently and effortlessly. At just 5 minutes a day you could start seeing positive results relatively quickly. Don’t set goals or objectives for each day though; just sit and think about whatever comes to mind.

What is meditation?

Meditation is simple! It is just sitting down, getting comfortable, and having a silent conversation with yourself. Don’t have grand expectations of what “meditation” should be to you. Meditation is not some animate object that may bring you gifts of consciousness and realization when you are ready for them. That is ridiculous and you will never get anywhere if you expect results.

The benefits that will come from meditating are actually going to come from yourself; from your own mind! It is exciting when you first realize how influential you can be on yourself. Only you know what your values and beliefs are, what is successful by your standards, and what goals must be accomplished to be happy.

Meditation is being honest with yourself and acting on that honesty. Forget candles, mantras, chanting, and all the other crap that has intimidated you away from meditating your whole life. Just make an effort to sit quietly by yourself and think about your life. Start with 5 minutes a day and you should start seeing the benefits within the first week. I can not tell you what those benefits are, but you will find self-assuredness, confidence, and inspiration on some level. These things are inherent in getting to know yourself. When you identify something you like about yourself (and cast a conscious thought on identifying it) you will continue to do that thing. Likewise, if you identify things you don’t like about your life, you will start doing things to disassociate from those things.

Meditation is about facing reality and improving upon it. It is about identifying your strengths and weaknesses and acting accordingly. It is taking credit for your accomplishments and learning from your failures. It is discovering who you are and then giving that information to… you. It is self-validating, self-assuring, and self-confiding.

Why do I meditate?

I meditate as a way to remind myself of my values and beliefs in life and a continuous way to re-focus on those things that are important to me. The top 5 reasons I meditate are:

1. Self Improvement
2. Self Confidence
3. To benefit from Objectivity
4. To clear my head and mitigate stressors
5. It makes me happy

I meditate because it has a profound impact on my mental and emotional health. After successfully meditating I can go from being stressed, angry, and confused to finding clarity, feeling relieved, and increasing my self-confidence.

To me, meditation is simply thinking and analyzing my thoughts in a calming environment; it’s a way to organize and compartmentalize them. In this way, I am able to view problems, stressors, concerns, etc. in my life, assess them and then file them away so I don’t have to worry about them again. The longer you think about something the more you will either: realize that you can’t change it at all or, realize that you need to take certain steps in order to make it better. Once you get to that point, you may calmly remove the stress from your mind and let it float away!

Obviously, the stressor itself doesn’t just disappear, but the futility of continually stressing over the same dilemma does go away. I would suggest asking yourself 3 questions when attempting to calm the waters surrounding a stressful situation:

1. How did I (or am I) reacting to this situation?
2. Is there a better way that I could have (should be) handling this situation?
3. What can I do next time this comes up, in order to act in accordance with my values and beliefs?

There are countless reasons why we should all consider meditation in our own lives; and yet, there are so many people who have not given it a shot. The benefits of meditation towards quality and perception of life are astounding, but there seems to be a lot of reasons why people don’t try it. So drop all pretense, forget what you think you know, and just give it a shot… who knows, it may influence your life in a positive way!

“From childhood I was compelled to concentrate attention upon myself. This caused me much suffering, but to my present view, it was a blessing in disguise for it has taught me to appreciate the inestimable value of introspection in the preservation of life, as well as a means of achievement. The pressure of occupation and the incessant stream of impressions pouring into our consciousness through all the gateways of knowledge make modern existence hazardous in many ways. Most persons are so absorbed in the contemplation of the outside world that they are wholly oblivious to what is passing on within themselves.” -Nikola Tesla

Copyright 2013 Dan McElroy

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