There has been quite a bit of recent information about meditation and the importance of practicing it, so it’s easy to wonder what can possibly be so great about it.
The thought of sitting still for that long seems torturous, so many people never even give it a shot. That’s definitely what happened to me. Others try it out a couple of times, but become discouraged. It’s easy to feel that it isn’t working when we can’t clear our minds. It’s hard to understand what all the hype is about.
I first began a meditation practice a little over a year ago and while I enjoyed saying that I meditated, I really didn’t experience all of the benefits until I spent a weekend at Kripalu for a mindfulness training. During the training, we meditated several times a day for a minimum of 30 minutes each time. It was during this weekend that I fell in love with meditation and all that it does for us.
Here some of the reasons why:
1. Meditation is there for us whenever we need it.
Meditation is like a loyal friend: it always has our back. Having a bad day at work? Count to 100 breaths, or set a timer for five minutes. Having a fight with our partner? We can go to a quiet place and focus on breathing until we feel relaxed. Maybe we are feeling down and we don’t know why? Trying a loving kindness meditation can make us more compassionate with ourselves. The reasons we need to meditate don’t even matter. What matters is that we can turn to meditation day or night, for however long we need it.
2. There is no wrong way to meditate.
We often give up on meditation because we feel that we are doing it the “wrong” way. We think that because we are still experiencing thoughts or sensations in our body, it means that meditation isn’t working. However, this is just part of the process of meditation. Thoughts will come in and out, and it doesn’t matter if we get distracted for a bit because we can always go back to focusing on our breath. Just noticing that we are off-track is an important part of the process, and means that we are are meditating.
3. Meditation doesn’t cost a thing.
There are not many things that are free nowadays, but meditation is one of them. We can invest in fancy cushions to sit on, guided meditations to follow along with, or even an app for our cell phone that will time us and remind us to do it, but we really don’t need any of those things. All we need is ourselves, a desire to meditate, and a quiet place to sit or lie down.
4. Meditation helps us learn to trust ourselves more.
We’ll develop a stronger intuition and sense of self by focusing on the feelings and sensations of our bodies while meditating and learning to identify what is causing them. We learn to recognize when we are experiencing something in the present moment and stay in that moment, rather than reliving the past, or becoming anxious about what may happen in the future. By trusting ourselves more, we’ll also begin to notice the times that our bodies need the relaxation and rest that meditation will provide us.
5. Meditation is a friend with benefits, without all of the drama.
There are benefits that we get from practicing meditation, without any drama. After all, it only requires that we sit quietly by ourselves and focus on our breathing. Some of the benefits that we can experience include increased focus and clarity, decreased feelings of anxiety, improved energy, increased productivity, and feelings of peacefulness.
Give meditation a chance if you haven’t tried it yet. If you already have a meditation practice, then contemplate the reasons why you love it. There are many styles of mediation that we can experiment with until we find the ones that work best for us, and that we enjoy the most. Being kind and compassionate with ourselves as we become accustomed to meditation ensures that we will be grateful for the experiences that it brings us.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Chrissy Tustison/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Natesh Ramasamy via Flickr