We’ve discussed how to slow down in today’s busy world through recognizing your thinking patterns and implementing basic breathing exercises at times when you’re overwhelmed.
In addition, we’ve dug into the impact of reflecting and how you can learn to sit back inside of your mind and dissociate from “being” your thoughts. How you can teach yourself to simply watch and observe every thought that pops up as they come and go, without judgement. And how through this awareness, you can then extract subconscious thoughts from within and connect important and sometimes life discovering dots together.
Today I wanted to focus attention on the practice of meditation, which is another unbelievable tool that can be applied to obtain a deep sense of inner peace, awareness and gratitude. It offers a wide array of health benefits and can truly help slow you down in every sense of the meaning, especially when you feel like you’re going 100 miles an hour on all cylinders.
Through meditation you can achieve a state of mindfulness where you’re fully aware and immersed within the present moment. Through diligent practice, during this unique and incredible moment in time (it could last for only a split second) your thoughts magically (and temporarily, of course) pause.
You become so focused on the act of meditating that your thought machine quietly shuts down and takes a much needed break.
Now let me ask you a few questions:
When’s the last time you weren’t in a rush?
When’s the last time you intentionally went an hour without picking up your phone during the day?
The hidden human superpower in this day and age is being AWARE.
Being aware of your thoughts and learning how to control them.
Being aware that you feel rushed and in a hurry to speed up, and gaining the ability to instantly slow down at a moments notice.
Being aware that you’ve spent over 5 unproductive hours on your phone in one day, while picking it up over 300 times throughout that span of time, and figuring out a way to take a step back and focus on the present.
This sense of life altering awareness can be achieved through meditation.
F the BS: It’s time to learn to meditate so that you can harness the power of awareness
Obvious Disclaimer: I’m not a meditation expert. My insights below are from my research, findings and experiences through meditating. There’s no one size fits all approach here. Do what makes you feel most comfortable and focused.
When meditating, you want to make sure you perform the practice in a very relaxing and calm environment. Some say to do it in a place where you only use this specific area for the sole purpose of meditation. (I enjoy meditating in the morning, but you can realistically do it whenever you have some down time to relax and focus).
Ideally, you want to either
-sit in a comfortable chair ensuring you have proper posture
-sit on the floor with your legs crossed with proper posture
-lay completely down with your arms and shoulders relaxed (I prefer this option, especially for those with back pain).
In terms of the style of meditation, below are three different types that I’ve used in the past and still use today (apparently there’s over 20 different types to choose from!).
These days there’s a ton of apps that offer guided meditation. This is when a person is speaking to you and takes you through the journey, hence guided.
If you’re brand new to meditating, this is probably going to be your best bet initially as someone’s voice will be with you every step of the way to bring you into a relaxed state so that you can focus on the practice.
Focused Attention Meditation
This is simply the act of focusing on something specific throughout your practice, such as your breath. Fully observing your body and what it does every time you inhale and exhale. It’s good to choose a word to say each time you inhale as well as exhale to help you prolong your focus.
I learned this incredible practice from Eknath Easwaran, an amazing indian spiritual teacher. He wrote books that I highly recommend reading such as Passage Meditation, Take Your Time and the Mantram Handbook.
Passage meditation is a unique form where you initially memorize an inspirational passage (ideally one written from some of the world’s great spiritual traditions). You then slowly read the passage word for word over and over again, without thinking into the meaning of the words.
This form of meditation is by far my favorite, but it’s also the most difficult of the three. By focusing on a passage filled with positivity, you essentially become what you meditate on.
To wrap it up…
Meditation is NOT easy. It will take you a LONG time to be able to slow down your thoughts and fully focus on the present moment throughout your practice.
The GOOD thing is that if you stick with it, it will offer you a lifetime of peace, happiness and gratitude.
Just remember: Repeatedly returning is the key. If you find yourself getting distracted, recognize it, don’t judge it and simply return to the practice.
“A calm mind releases the most precious capacity a human being can have: the capacity to turn anger into compassion, fear into fearlessness, and hatred into love.” – Eknath Easwaran