In our fast-paced, frantic world it seems like the thing we want most is to be able to just sit and relax! And then we get the opportunity to do just that . . . and then the TV goes on . . . and the smart phone . . . and the tablet – and before you know it there you are surrounded by technology and providing your brain with no less than 4 separate tasks. Does that sound relaxing? At all?
Meditation is pretty much the exact opposite of that. It is an opportunity to be mindful and completely present, an opportunity to take control of your thoughts and not let them kidnap you and run away with you. There is an abundance of research on how helpful mediation is in calming anxiety, stress, and general unhappiness. It has incredible short and long-term benefits. It is free and takes no more than 20 minutes a day. So why aren’t we doing it?
It is so hard to slow down and to give yourself the luxury of doing nothing but sitting and being present. Do you even know how to do that? It certainly isn’t intuitive, you have to learn how to do it and work on being present and still. Meditation is an act of cultivating stillness and silence. Those are two things that society tells us is bad, that to be happy we need to be seeking the next best thing and to be doing something fun and enjoyable. If that were actually true wouldn’t the search for happiness be over?
Something must be off, so let’s try something different and look inward for sustainable happiness. Something that doesn’t fade and doesn’t have conditions on sticking around.
How do you meditate?
This is a very simple question, simple process, but with difficult follow-through. In order to meditate you sit in a quiet place in a comfortable position, generally on a chair (not a lazy-boy), and close your eyes. Then focus on your breath, breathing in and out being mindful of you body, remaining still and silent. You’ll have a lot of thoughts come zipping through your mind “Did I pay the water bill?” or “I want ice cream” or “This is boring.” Just let them pass and fade away and remain still and silent, focusing on your breath.
So easy, right? After you sit for 20 min, let me know how easy it was to stay focused on your breath! It is challenging but the cultivation, the continuous process of bringing your attention back to your breath and the here and now, that is the mediation. That is what will lower your stress and anxiety. The decision to respond to life’s challenges in a mindful and intentional way is how you can stop stress from controlling your life and stop anxiety from creeping in when you least expect it.
A good introduction to mediation is to practice mindfulness, I have posted about mindfulness in daily life and mindfulness for stress relief, but there are also great resources out about mindfulness meditation that are a great addition to your personal library. 1
Have you ever tried to meditate? What was it like for you?
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