Since I started teaching yoga it has become evident to me that an increasing number of people are turning to yoga to help them deal with stress, anxiety and depression as well as their physical ailments . My journey started in the same way, I was looking for a way to deal with various stresses in my life and when I found yoga I also found meditation and very early on realised its potential to help me .
Before I jump into the 5 top reasons why I think everyone should try meditation let's take a moment to define what meditation is and how it differs from mindfulness
What is meditation ? based on the term used by Tibetan monks to describe meditation, we can describe the process as a method to "familiarize ourselves with a new vision of things, a new way to manage our thoughts, perceiving people and our world"(from the book Happiness by Dr Matthieu Ricard).
What is mindfulness? based on an ancient Sanskrit word meaning "remembering" ( remembering the object of our attention) , mindfulness is "paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment , without judgment"(as described by the father of mindfulness based stress reduction – Jon Kabat Zinn) Mindfulness is knowing where you are in your mind and your state of mind right now.
Ancient texts (not only yogic ones but also from other religious and pagan sources) are full of meditation related quotes , I like this one from the Bhagavad Gita:
The mind is like a lake, and stones that are dropped into it (or winds) raise waves. Those waves do not let us see who we are. (...) The waters must be calmed. If one remains quiet, eventually the winds that ruffle the water will give up, and then one knows who one is. God is constantly within us, but the mind obscures that fact with agitated waves of worldly desires.
Meditation quiets those waves.
(Bhagavad Gita V.28).
And here are my 5 top reasons why I believe everyone should learn to meditate
1) Everyone can meditate
This ancient practice is innate, if you have a mind , you can meditate.It is one of the things we all have in common no matter where we are from , what colour eyes or hair we have , we are all human and therefore are able to meditate.
If you have kids or work with them try a simple meditation by asking them to close their eyes and focus on their breath or an object for a few moments ( a flower or a tree ) see how they respond , they will tell you all about how calm they feel.
2) It's free
You do not need any equipment or expensive gadget to meditate , you just need to sit comfortably and quietly with intention. So what's not to like ?
In some traditions like Transcendental Meditation , you can use a mantra to remain focused , repeating the mantra until the mantra itself falls away and you transcend into things as they are. There are many apps out there that provide FREE guided meditations , the one I found the most helpful is Insight Timer
3) It's portable
Do you drive or commute to work by public transport? Have you always wanted to meditate but feel that you just do not have the time in your busy schedule to sit and do nothing for an hour? Meditation does not have to be a long practice.
The next time you are on your bus or train or you arrive at work in your car , grab your phone and settle in a comfortable upright position , set a 1 minute timer , close your eyes and see how many breaths you can count during that one minute without the mind being distracted. If your mind wonders , start counting from 1 again.
4) It's the door to mindful living
Maybe you are still not convinced so what are the tangible benefits of meditation and "what's in it for me"? I hear you say.
There have been several studies that have demonstrated the benefits of a regular meditation practice on the brain and the body itself ( https://www.mindful.org/your-brain-on-meditation/ ) .
I personally found meditation has opened the door to a more mindful life.
I can see my mind thinking more clearly, and that means being better at slowing down and moving from the default mode of re-acting to a more mindful mode of responding.
Meditation has brought more contentment into my life by creating a buffer zone between my thoughts and my actions.
5) Meditation teaches you to be alone with yourself
Being alone with yourself can be a scary place especially if you are going through a period of anxiety or a period of challenges in your life. The key is to trust the process and trust yourself . Creating space for silence and reflection through meditation allows you to befriend your mind and turn fear of your own thoughts into compassion and self-love.
When I lost my mum I found it difficult to be on my own especially when the house was quiet, then I found meditation and I sat for long periods just watching my thoughts and my memories and instead of pushing them away I began to recognise them as thoughts , my thoughts. This is when I discovered that no-one else could give me the compassion I needed at that moment but myself.
Beyond the thick web of thoughts we spin every day there is a bright light that never dims , meditation allows us to dust off the webs and see that light as it is.
(Marzia on meditation)
If you liked this short blog please like and share and look out for meditation workshops coming soon!
Love and light