I’m sure you’ve heard that meditation is good for you. You might have even tried it yourself. Maybe with some success and then maybe not.
Exactly what are the benefits of making meditation a part of our regular routine? Is there a “right” way to meditate? How do you know if it’s making any difference?
These are all good questions.
The main reason that meditation is so good for you is it slows and calms down all aspects of your being – your mental, physical and emotional systems. There really is no one size fits all when it comes to meditation practices. It’s as unique as each individual. The purpose of meditation is to reset your circuit breakers, for no better term.
Meditation does a number of really cool things.
First, it quiets the brain activity which helps with shutting down the monkey mind. I know some of you say that that’s exactly the problem. When you try to meditate you can’t seem to quiet your mind. The monkey mind seems to hang in there even when you try to meditate. My response to that is it does take a little practice and diligence. You have to find something simple enough to quiet your mind but not so simple that it’s not enough to focus on.
Here’s a few suggestions.
See if there is any kind of subtle noise going on in the background of your room such as the air conditioner or furnace fan to focus on. Right now I have my clothes dryer on tumbling clothes which is making a monotonous sound. If you’d like something more soothing check out videos on Youtube. There are all kinds of videos with various white noise sounds, frequencies and healing sounds. Play around with which ones seem to resonate with you. Here’s a link to a video of Tibetan healing sounds. It has over 24 million views so there must be something to this one for that many views. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5dU6serXkg
Another thing to try in addition to listening to something monotonous is to count your breaths.
Focus on your chest rising and falling as you breathe, counting each breath. When your mind has a distracting thought start over again. Each time you start counting over again see if you can’t go to a higher number before a thought pops in. It’s a challenging exercise but for those of you who are linear and are goal oriented this is something you might like and will work for you.
Some people meditate with their eyes open. When you do this you have to again find something to focus on. You can try focusing on a flickering candle flame or if you’re outside and there is a breeze you can watch the leaves on a tree sway back and forth. Youtube again is a great place to find videos of all kinds of things to focus on, everything from ocean waves to babbling brooks to colorful changing pictures.
When our mind has a regular opportunity to consciously relax it seems to embrace the experience with a sense of clarity. It helps the mind prioritize things in your life so that it is easier to focus on things that really matter and ignore those that are just background noise and annoyances. Think of it like allowing the snowflake particles to settle in a snow globe after you’ve shook it up. It takes time doesn’t it for the clarity and clear scene to return, doesn’t it? We’re not much different.
The second thing that meditation does for you is it calms your physical systems down. It slows down your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, relaxes your muscles, calms down your digestive system and gives your nervous system a break from all the outside stimuli. These are all physical benefits. Combined they can help your overall health because relaxed and calm systems, which are taking place literally at the cellular level, slows down the ageing process and boosts the immune system and gives the cells time to rejuvenate and heal. Now that is a huge benefit.
And third, on a emotional and spiritual level it puts you in a place where you are more heart centered. I did a blog about aligning your head with your heart which you can read here. When we come from a more heart centered place we make better choices in life. We get in touch with our natural intuitive ability to not just know how to navigate through our lives but to feel our way through our options and choices. Meditation helps us tap into our higher self which is a wiser aspect of who we are. I think that it strengthens our emotional shock absorbers and makes it easier to handle all the ups and downs of life.
Since there are numerous ways to meditate there really isn’t one “right” way. Therefore, there isn’t any particular benefit I can tell you that would apply to you. Everyone’s mind, body and spirit will use the practice of meditation for their own highest good. In other words, everyone will receive a slightly different benefit according to their needs.
The most important thing is to give it a try for a designated period of time. Set a goal that you are going to mediate at a certain time of day for X number of days in a row. Find the best place for you whether that is in the corner of a room in your house, outside in nature someplace or even in your car parked in a secluded and quiet spot. Make that time special and sacred so that you deem it a priority. Don’t worry if you don’t calm your mind down right away. It might take some time to get to the point where you feel your brain waves shift. From my experience it feels kind of like I’m drifting off to sleep but I don’t actually check out. I just feel this shift that is hard to explain. But trust me, you’ll know it when you experience it. It feels so relaxing and calming and in todays world we need to calm and relax ourselves any way we can.
So have I convinced you yet to give meditation a try? Who knows? You might not just like it but will see real benefits to your everyday life.