Most of us know that meditation is helpful for some kind of relaxation and for making a connection with our inner self, or with higher reality (in whichever form you believe it exists : God, spirits, teachers, universal energy…); even those who don’t know anything else about meditation than that it’s been around for ages and that Buddha did it :), even they know that there’s something to it.
What people usually think is that meditation is a technique reserved for those who are more spiritually advanced than us, and that not all of us can do it.
This is a myth, and one you need to disperse right away because meditation is something that can be learned, and something that you can benefit from tremendously. You, me, everyone – there’s nothing mysterious about it, and all of us can benefit from it.
Do You Know what Kind of Party Your Thoughts Throw when You’re Gone?
Our mind is in line with the way we live: it has thousands of thoughts (between 40,000-60,000 a day – that’s roughly 10 thoughts per second), all passing and colliding, coming and going; some of them we register, some we don’t, but they happen anyway. So our mind is like a beehive. Can you imagine what it would be like to try to stop the bees?
With so many thoughts that pass through our mind, it’s practically impossible to consciously keep track of all of them. So, many of these thoughts get processed directly in our subconscious, some of them even get stored there for future reference.
And you know what happens to a thought or a set of thoughts that go through our subconscious repeatedly? For example, if you constantly hear that you’re good for nothing, or that the world is a horrible place?
With time such thoughts become stronger and lead to forming our beliefs. Now add to that that you’re not even aware of the biggest part of the thoughts that get stored in your subconscious, and you can understand how not many of us can actually and consciously influence what we will believe in.
Now that you understand why you should gain control of your thoughts, let’s go back to meditation.
It’s Like Normal Focusing, Only Better
There are hundreds of meditative traditions all over the world, but you don’t need to know all of them – and it can be really confusing anyway: some teach that you should focus on your breathing, others that you should chant a mantra… What you just have to understand is the basic concept, and do whatever kind of meditation you feel will suit you.
We will focus mostly on breathing technique, as it’s the easiest form of meditation.
All ways of meditation have one thing in common: they shut down the normal stream of thoughts that are flowing through our minds. The most difficult form of meditation is probably to try to shut down the thoughts altogether – but you don’t need to go there. You can choose one thing, just one, and focus all of your thoughts on it.
So, what happens when you focus on one thing – your breathing for example?
At first your mind won’t be very happy about it and it will send all kinds of distractions your way. You may start thinking, for example: “Mm, that yummy ice cream, I could go buy one after I finish with meditating” and, instead of focusing on your breathing, your mind focuses on the ice cream, it can fix you up with the girl who sells it, and who knows what else.
When you notice this is happening (and it will), kindly remind your mind about what you’re doing here and take it back to your breathing. Distractions will come, and you just shouldn’t let them disturb you – notice them, be aware of them, and let them go. Focus on your breathing over and over again.
Even if you start meditation for just 5 minutes every day, the exercise will eventually help you stay focused on what you’re doing – just one action, or, if you prefer it that way, just one thought. If you want to meditate on the beauty of life – to fill your mind with thoughts of only that – that’s also very cool.
This way, meditation helps clear your mind of the flood of random thoughts; with time you will be less prone to random distractions and you will learn to take in your mind only what you want to be there.
Once you learn how to take control of your mind, you will be able to discover the connection between your mind and your body, as well as the connections that exist within your mind (thoughts that you weren’t aware of). When you become aware of what is happening to your body, you can also begin to control the reactions that your body has to certain situations and to increase your energy, or to simply calm down when you feel the need to.
Meditation is definitely a learned skill – even the Buddhist monks weren’t born knowing how to do it, and with practice it gets better. It will help you find peace in the present moment, and stop magnifying the things from your past, or worrying too much about what the future will bring. Use it for healing, spiritual growth, mental concentration or just for relaxation – you won’t be wrong, and you’ll definitely benefit from it.
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