Meditation is said to come with many health benefits. When you sit in stillness, your cardiovascular system slows down, your breathing stabilizes, your blood pressure is lower, your digestive system is able to balance and absorb more nutrients. Other physical assets include the relaxation of the nervous system, muscle tension release, and the seemingly easy disappearance of headaches and migraines. That is not all. Look inward and observe your mind and soul while you spend time in silence. You will realize that meditation reduces anxiety and depression. We feel as if we have enough power to take over the world, which leads to improved self-esteem, focus, confidence, and motivation. At the same time, we seem to connect better with people surrounding us. Positive thoughts increase and we feel more hope and compassion as we grow our social reach. All these points are facts and much researched.
Why is not everyone meditating?
Meditation has a stigma to it. The ‘new-age’ feeling does not appeal to the masses and ‘hippie’ is one of the words that those opposing it, or those who shy away from gaining more insight, call people who ponder in silence. Although respect and praise for the practice is on the rise, there are those who believe meditation is tied to a certain religion. For them, it is reason enough not to participate. Meditation asks us to deal with ourselves. May that be a factor in finding an answer to the above question? Are we worried and scared of what we will learn about our inner personality? Psychologists appropriated meditation and tried to make it their own. Austrian born Sigmund Freud, for example, or Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and influential thinker who said, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” (Carl Jung 1875-1961)
The magical practice of meditation is not so magical for many.
Sitting in silence, cross-legged on a ‘zabuton’ (Japanese for sitting-mat) or crouched on a small ‘zafu’ (sitting cushion) can leave us with all sorts of physical sensations; our back is hurting, the feet are tingling, shoulders are heavy, and the neck and knees are achy, not even mentioning our conscious desire to get back up and move around. This all is topped by the sheer goal of stilling our brains, harnessing the power of the consciousness to tap into the unconsciousness, simply being and not following those thousands of mind-battering thoughts that seem to appear out of nowhere with the sole reason to disturb our objective of reaching total quietness. We feel like we are lacking the skills to do it right: the right equipment, the right time, the right place, the right music, the right incense, and the right people.
What do you need to meditate successfully?
The answer to this question is easy: yourself and the willingness to try what works for you. Just as in other forms of physical practices, there are many different versions of meditation. Initial choosing between mantra, kundalini, guided, energy, mindful, moving, and breathing meditation can be hard. This is why we need to explore the subject, just like you may try a hot yoga versus a restorative yoga class, which you will find very different in nature. It can be helpful to test various meditation centers, teachers, and styles. Or, you get your feet wet at home, allowing yourself to brush away excuses and preconceived opinions about the practice.
Get started, let your senses guide you, and reap the benefits
The five major religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all practice forms of meditation. See it as time that you take for yourself, nurturing self-care and the creation of awareness around your body and spirit. Spending time in stillness can be easier than we imagine, especially when we allow ourselves to play by our own rules letting our senses lead us:
- Sight: Keeping your eyes open, gently focusing on an object, or closing your eyes
- Hearing: Music, chanting, chimes, or maybe in total silence
- Touch: Sit where it is comfortable for you, maybe you would like to lie down or walk
- Smell: Choose the fragrance you like – maybe you prefer not to have any incense
The benefits of meditation are amazing when you take ownership in it: Name your practice, explore different styles, make it comfortable and fun so you want to go back to it.
Meditation is like a mini-vacation from daily stressors leaving us powerful, content & refreshed
And the best, with regular practice, rumination will turn into crystal-clear vision, deep thought into a quiet mind, and deliberation into entering the amazing space in-between.