Author and meditator Michelle Zarrin explains the benefits of meditation, along with how to practice it.
The world of meditation is intriguing and mysterious to those who have not tried it. For those who have meditated, they realize it’s one of the most profound tools for gaining self-awareness, clarity and compassion. In this article I’ll explain what to expect when sitting on a daily basis and then what to expect once the practice becomes a part of your life. Results are different per person because we are each on a unique path. And one of the main things the path of meditation and spirituality teach us is to honor our individuality, tap into our authenticity and create a life very fulfilling for our soul.
Your space for meditation should be free of distractions. The quiet will allow you to focus deeper on your breath, enhancing your journey inward. It is fine to meditate while sitting cross-legged on the floor or sitting upright on a chair. It is not recommended to meditate lying down. The point is to keep an erect spinal column, where the nervous system is housed. Set a timer on your smart phone or other device for the number of minutes you’d like to meditate. By doing this, you will alleviate any relation to time and can surrender to the journey at hand.
Some people feel comfortable meditating with soft music or mantras. I prefer meditating in complete silence. I feel this makes a deeper connection with my Being, my soul. With a straight back, eyes closed and timer set, focus on your breath. The breath will be the anchor during the process. Our mind can only do one thing at a time. So it can think one thought (even if this is at a rapid rate), or it can focus on the breath. The point of meditation is to create space between the thoughts and the breath is this tool.
During your meditation sitting, it is very normal for thoughts to race through consistently. The natural tendency of the mind is to continuously think. When you notice the thoughts have taken over, do not hold an emotion to them. Do not judge them. Do not judge yourself. Recognize what is going on and gently bring your focus back to the breath. This small act of not judging yourself during your sitting, will expand into your life when your eyes are open and you actually judge yourself less. So bring your focus back to the breath.
When you are able to attain a few seconds of no thought, then that is when you have tapped into stillness. It does not have to feel like bliss. It does not have to feel like anything. It is simply a few seconds of no thought. However, these few seconds are incredibly profound. They are the space that is needed within the mind for clarity, for less anxiety, for going deeper within oneself. If you sit for ten minutes and all you attain is a few seconds of no thought, that is fine. The key with meditation is to keep the discipline and sit again the following days.
Your mind will remember those few seconds of no thought. Even if you are not able to attain a few seconds of stillness the following day, that is okay. Just keep sitting each day. Dedicate this time to your soul. The mind will remember the portal into your stillness you have created. Each time you penetrate into this portal, however brief, will be immensely radical for your well being. It is the accumulation of stillness over a period of days, weeks and months that you’ll recognize the difference in your mentality and outlook.
The long-term effects of keeping a meditation practice are:
- Incorporating the four C’s: Clarity, compassion, creativity and consciousness. The space you create in your mind through stillness will allow you to view your life with a clearer perspective. You will develop more compassion for yourself and those around you, because at the core of each person resides a world of love and warmth. As a species, we are creators. And the clearer our minds are, the more space we open up for seeing life in new ways. Our stillness expands our consciousness because we learn to live from our Being versus our thinking. And living from our Being resonates deeper on all whom we come into contact with.
- Viewing life from an expanded perspective: The more space we create in our minds through stillness, the more we are able to view the big picture of our life. We worry less about the little things that happen and see where each occurrence falls into the big picture. This produces a sense of calm and alleviates stress.
- Disconnecting from the ego: The ego is the part of the mind that is never satisfied, is competitive and makes us feel we are never enough. Ego is very different than self-confidence. Self-confidence comes from a place deep within, a place of contentment. The ego wants us to strive for more because it never feels we are enough. Self-confidence wants us to strive for more because it knows our potential and is excited to express it.
One of the most profound gifts you can give yourself is to meditate. Not only will this gift benefit you, it will benefit society. The loving energy you will carry as a meditator will resonate on all whom you come in contact with. People will feel comfortable around you. They will want to share with you. They will want to work with you.
Everything in our life is a result of who we are on the inside. If something is gnawing within you to improve, do not go out and buy the next material possession. Do not go have work done on your face or body. Do not throw yourself into a meaningless relationship. Instead, sit in meditation. Allow your stillness to pave the path for the most contented and joyful life you will experience.
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