Meditation and mindfulness feels like the buzz word in this era of wellness triumph. In our hunger for information, access to technology, and quest to better the world, we live in a time where self-betterment, self-empowerment, and in general taking care of the self is what’s trendy. There’s so much information out there on how to achieve greater wellness, but if there’s one thing I can highlight is how meditation has changed me.
Meditation used to feel like a distant spiritual achievement. Whether meditation is tied to a religion (like Buddhism) or whether it was possible to practice meditation outside of religion were stereotypes I never thought to question. It took several occurrences in my life to propel me into adopting meditation as a daily practice, but over a year into my daily (or I should say at least four to five days a week) practice I’ve come to appreciate meditation beyond its traditional definitions.
I now see meditation as an essential component of my life. The same as how I commit myself to a weekly routine of sweat sessions, meditation is now part of my routine. Meditation is an exercise for the mind and like any exercise, it is a practice which requires discipline and long-term commitment. Meditation demands priority and it is not a singular but a constant practice which requires a lifestyle shift. It may seem daunting, but here are some of my key takeaways:
1. The world is always changing and moving.
This seems like an obvious statement, but this simple understanding has helped me move through life with more acceptance of current circumstance. Whether life unfolds through events which cheers me on or drags me down, there’s more clarity in realizing that where I am right now is only temporary because no matter what happens in life, time will continue to unfold whether I’d like it to or not. Life is in constant motion, therefore how I am in the world is also in constant motion. With this knowledge, I am empowered with the power of choice within this constant motion. It’s a choice about how I choose to live out this moment right now to set myself up for the moment to come.
2. I can only know what’s happening right now.
What’s become very clear to me is how I am only in control of this present moment; and only moment by moment. I have no control over what’s happened already (the past), nor do I have control over what’s to come (my future). Therefore, I can alleviate any worry of the past or the future because all I need to be concerned with is what’s happening right now because this is all I know for certain.
This is not to say I am against planning because I am someone who likes to make plans for the week sometimes even the month or months ahead. What it does help me with is to let go of any worry about what might happen or what could have happened because both are outside my scope of action. My attention is then left to attend to what is in my control, which is what’s happening right now.
3. I am in control of my thoughts.
Meditation helps to create intimacy with my thoughts because I am choosing to take time out of my day to stop and pay attention to what’s going on inside my head. So often my thoughts are only the background to my life; realizing I forgot to water my plants or worrying about Christmas presents for the holiday season as I walk through the crowds at the train station. Thoughts tend to act as background noise, but meditation presents my mind as the main act. I am choosing to stop everything, close my eyes, and pay attention to my inner world. In meditation, I give myself the opportunity and the space to attend to only myself, my body, and my inner world. The world outside becomes the background noise.
How to start meditation practice?
I use Headspace the app and am a yearly subscriber. I found this is what worked well for me. It keeps me honest about how many days I’ve practiced and keeps me on track with the different meditation series to follow. This is not the only application. There are plenty of options out there to explore what works for you. Remember, there are also different types of meditations, so I encourage anyone who wants to try meditation to give yourself time to explore the varieties as well.
Other avenues to explore might be Youtube, Podcasts, or other applications. Find what works for you!