Meditation: it isn’t just for monks anymore.
You know that person that can remain calm in any situation? It’s that person that doesn’t let their emotions control them, that person that is polite and respectful but also has an air of love. The power of the universe seems to come from them naturally without effort. You can be that person, and you’re already halfway there! (Or maybe you’re already like this, in which case, good job! Keep up the great work.) Reading this and taking the initiative to better yourself as a person is half the battle, and you are already winning.
Meditation is an amazing thing that is both complex and simple in nature. It’s so easy, that it can be incredibly difficult. However, the benefits far outweigh the initial frustration. According to Wikipedia, “Meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.” It sounds more complicated than it actually is, but to a lot, it’s the act of clearing your mind while obtaining inner peace. You don’t have to go to the top of a mountain to practice, and you can do it any time you want. Once you start, you will almost immediately see some benefits.
There are almost as many forms of meditation as there are people on the planet, since everyone will do it a little differently. It is as unique as you are, so there isn’t any “right” way to do it. Chances are, you’ve done it before and haven’t even realized it. Maybe when you couldn’t fall asleep and focused on your breathing to relax into a calm state of mind. Maybe it was those few deep breaths you took before you almost exploded at someone. Maybe it’s the simple act of drawing, painting, or cooking, and you get in the zone and creativity flows out of you like a bubbling river.
There are books about meditation that you could pick up if you’d like to know more in detail, and lots of classes available in almost every city (these classes have the best behaved students, probably.) But since this isn’t going to be a novel, let’s get started on some simple ways to feeling zen in no time.
- Ready: Meditation is all about clearing your head, so the best time to do it is when you can be free from distractions for a few minutes. It doesn’t have to be an hour long session, as you might only be able to do a few minutes at a time at first. However, the more you do it, the longer you’ll be able to remain still. The more you meditate, the more benefits will start to show. It’s a gradual process but every step counts.
- Set: Posture is important, but you don’t have to be stiff or uncomfortable. You can even do it laying down, however it’s best done when you are up straight and alert. It’s not considered “zoning out”, you’re actually doing the opposite. You are becoming aware of your body and your place in it, so feel your breath. Don’t try to control your breathing, just notice it. Feel the air slightly cool as it enters your nose, and slightly warm as it leaves. Feel your heartbeat and feel your muscles start to relax with each breath.
- Go: Start letting your thoughts go. Don’t try not to think, since that will feel like you are fighting a battle with your thoughts. Simply detach from them and be aware when you are chasing a thought. It’s normal to be distracted by them, but the more you notice them and let them go, the less they will bother you. Think of them as colored balloons floating through the sky, or clouds that are passing by. Then refocus on your breathing. From this point, just try to last longer and longer without breaking your focus. There are many different exercises to do, but just sitting and not thinking is a gateway to a new level of consciousness.
Some people compare meditation to a snow globe. When you’re busy and in the midst of the chaos that surrounds us on a daily basis, it’s like shaking a snow globe. Meditation is letting the snow settle and being able to see the image more clearly. Meditation is clearing your mind from the constant chatter of the ego and just letting things be.
When you have thoughts, you can start to notice a pattern. Where does your mind float to when you’re not aware? You can learn a little bit about yourself this way.
If you don’t want to sit down and dedicate time to this, you can practice meditation in other ways. There is a type called “walking meditation” where all you do is walk. Focus on your feet touching the ground, feeling the earth with each deliberate step. Take your time.
Mindfulness can be practiced every day, no matter what you’re doing. Just pay attention to the world you’re in, especially when it’s easy to get caught up in your own bubble. You can then start to notice when other people are stuck in their heads as well. Once you start noticing things about yourself, you can start noting things that humans do as a whole.
Meditation is an ancient yet modern ability to find a sense of inner peace and kindness, as well as many other great qualities. You can learn to feel compassion for all the other living beings on this planet, because we are all connected.
Try some of these and let us know how they worked for you!