May has been all about meditation! And this article will do a deep dive into everything meditation.
In this article you will discover:
And for this month’s article, I wanted to make sure the downloadable freebie was something really special.
So, this month you can download a 45 page eBook called, “Discover the Power of Mindfulness Meditation.”
This is by far the biggest free giveaway I have done so far! It is a complete guide on mindfulness meditation, and I know you will get a ton of value from it.
Many religions and philosophies advocate meditation. Meditation is also used as a tool in many activities and for self-help purposes. While all of these things might be rather disparate, the reasons for performing the meditation are rather similar.
Most of us feel we have a reasonable understanding of the practice of meditation, but many of us can’t really describe the actual purpose.
So what is meditation?
Meditation is a way of focusing the mind. Once you've gotten into a habit of meditating often, you'll discover that it's easier than you think.
Some people sit in a cross-legged position when they meditate, but this isn't mandatory. Another sitting position might be more comfortable for you, but the key is to maintain good posture. If you slouch, you're more likely to get tired and feel like falling asleep.
A meditative practice brings you many benefits:
1.) It’s the one time your mind really gets a rest.
Your mind is constantly active. It’s thinking about ten different things every 15 seconds. It’s telling you that you need a drink of water. It’s worrying about your date next Saturday and reminding you that you don’t have enough money in your bank account to pay your cable bill.
2.) You learn how to focus.
When you think of meditation, do you imagine someone sitting alone in a quiet room with subdued lighting? This is the easiest way to meditate, with no distractions. It’s like meditation with training wheels. But you could actually be meditating most of the time as well.
3.) You can find answers.
When your mind is running a hundred miles an hour, it’s difficult to find elegant solutions to your challenges. A brain needs a little space to find effective solutions to tough challenges. Meditation can provide that needed space.
4.) Meditation is healthy.
Stress is incredibly hard on the body. Meditation reduces stress, lowers your pulse and blood pressure, and improves sleep.
The beautiful thing with meditation is anyone can use meditation to bring rest and peace into their life.
Anecdotally there are many reasons that meditation is something worth adding to your life. But beyond just knowing that meditation is, “good for you,” there is plenty of research to support the massive benefits that come from meditating.
The most common image of meditation is one of a monk in a religious experience. However, meditation is actually a practice that anyone can do to improve mind function and overall health.
When you meditate, you place your body in a kind of sleep state. You're still awake, but your body can begin to repair itself in the same way that it does when you sleep. If you meditate in the morning or at night, you can help yourself transition from sleeping to wakefulness and vice versa.
Meditation has been proven to reduce stress levels and the absence of overwhelming stress improves your health in many ways. You'll likely enjoy lower blood pressure and a strengthened immune system.
Stress can also lead to mental health challenges, so when you strive to be stress-free, you'll keep anxiety and depression away as well.
When you focus on breathing and focusing your mind, you're actually centered on the present moment. On the other hand, stress arises when you think about something in the past or future.
Since you have little stress when you have a clear and focused mind in the present moment, you exude calmness. When you practice this often, you can bring a calm, stress-free demeanor to your everyday life.
Once you've become calmer and more peaceful through meditation, your life will open up to more opportunities and you'll find it easier to make healthy choices.
Stress and The Body
When you feel stressed, you put your body into overdrive. When it's overworked, it's more open to various diseases and disorders. Stress exists for a reason; you need to have the hormonal adrenalin rush and increased breathing and heart rate in order to escape threatening situations. It's simply how you're able to handle threats.
By always having your mind on past or future stressors, you keep your mind and body in a stressful state even when you aren't enduring a stressful situation in the present. This is exactly why it's important to give your body a much-needed break from all the stress.
When you learn to meditate often, you're giving your body the energy and rest it needs to stave off exhaustion and disease.
To the uninitiated, meditation appears to be a relatively easy activity. Most people think it appears boring, but easy. Meditation is anything but. Meditation can be more mentally challenging than taking a cold shower, strenuous exercise, or sitting through an all-day meeting at work.
The urges that cause you to want to overeat, lash out in anger, gossip, or procrastinate are the same types of urges you must learn to overcome to meditate successfully.
The urge to quit is great. Your brain tries to rationalize that sitting there is a waste of time.
If you can meditate successfully, you can do just about anything. Most importantly, you learn how your mind works and how it tries to trick you into doing silly things. Your ability to concentrate, regardless of the distractions around you, can be built through meditation. Meditation teaches you how to overcome your learned urges and tendencies. Your ability to focus can be developed. Meditation is a wonderful tool for building willpower, discipline, and strength of character. It’s also 100% free!
Meditation Can Alter Your Brain
Meditation is life-changing and affirming for the millions of people who practice it. Recently, there’s been some fascinating research into how practicing meditation can actually make positive changes to your brain’s structure.
The academic journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging recently published a study about meditation. This study, completed by Massachusetts General Hospital clinicians, looked at a small number of subjects and used brain imaging equipment to look at their brains before and after an 8-week meditation class.
The results were astonishing: for meditators, the areas of the brain that focus on being compassionate toward others and being self-aware got larger and the brain areas devoted to stress actually got smaller. Experts are so sure of the positive mind-altering benefits of meditation that it’s beginning to be taught in some grade schools.
Meditation is the ultimate exercise for a healthy mind and body. You'll feel refreshed and rejuvenated once you've given it a try. Who knew that "just sitting" could be so helpful!
So maybe you’re someone who recognizes the many benefits to meditation but still struggle to make it a part of your life.
Meditation is simple, cheap, and highly effective, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. And to be honest, it actually is pretty easy, it’s just not what people expect it to be.
Many people have all sorts of challenges when meditating, but most of them aren’t really problems. The complaints many people have are simply part of the meditation process.
Meditation can work for anyone who puts in the time and effort.
Are these challenges holding you back?
1.) Your mind is too active.
Of course, it’s active. It takes practice before the mind quiets down, and it’s rarely silent even after years of practice. It takes about 20 minutes for experienced meditators to notice a slowing down of the mind.
2.) Your mind wanders.
It’s not uncommon to suddenly realize that you’ve been daydreaming for the last five minutes. The solution is the same as the previous issue. Just return your attention to your breath and continue.
3.) A lack of consistency.
Meditation needs to be done daily to see the greatest benefits. It also needs to be done daily to gain a high level of proficiency. You can’t become skilled at what you don’t practice. Get as much practice as you can.
4.) You fall asleep.
It’s not easy to fall asleep if you have the proper posture. It should be impossible to stay asleep if you have the proper posture, as you’re sure to lose you balance and fall over.
5.) Body pains.
Holding one position can be painful, especially when you’re just starting out with meditation. Over time, your aches and pains will largely go away.
Yes, meditation can be boring, especially if you’re used to significantly more stimulation. Learn to sit still with your boredom and just observe it. Boredom can be more fascinating than you might think.
7.) Rationalizing that quitting is a good idea.
Common thoughts include things like, “This is a waste of time.” “Why am I doing this?” “Is this all there is?” Again, just sit with your thoughts and notice them. Every thought is as meaningless as the next.
8.) Finding time.
This excuse is hardly a valid excuse. Go to bed 20 minutes early and sit in the corner. Or get up 20 minutes early and do the same. The truth is, after a little practice, you can meditate at your desk or on a bus.
9.) Desiring perfection.
Perfection in meditation isn’t achievable, but you don’t need to be perfect. Put in the time with your best effort. That’s all that’s required.
10.) Expecting more.
Meditation rarely involves earth-shattering insights. It’s a gradual process that brings understanding over time.
The problems above aren’t really problems per se. They’re simply misunderstandings of what normally occurs during a meditation session. Just keep at it and have faith that everything is as it should be.
If you haven’t started meditating yet, the best time to start was yesterday. The next best time is today! Use this article as the inspiration you need to get started with your meditation practice.
Or, if you’re someone who already meditates, use this article as the gentle nudge to take your meditation practice to the next level.
Remember, meditation is ideally something you will do for the rest of your life. There is nothing to rush towards, no big breakthrough you should be seeking, and nobody you need to be competing with.
Meditation is a personalized experience, and something to make part of your daily routine. Consistency and discipline in your meditation practice are what will bring about the results you are seeking.
One of my biggest breakthroughs on my meditation journey was attending a 10-day silent retreat in the middle of the forest.
And while this was an incredible experience, I know that it isn’t always feasible for everyone to carve out a space where you can take 10 days and go on a retreat like that.
If time and resources don’t allow you head into the bush for a silent retreat, you can create your own one at home. Yes, I said at home! 😃
Take a weekend and try these ideas to conduct a personal silent retreat at home:
1.) Clear your schedule.
You can’t have people bothering you if you’re going to perform a silent retreat. Let everyone know you won’t be available for a day or two or 10. Think about everyone that might need to communicate with you and inform them. Reschedule any appointments for another time.
2.) Take care of any business before your silent retreat.
Whether you need to go shopping, make phone calls, or get an oil change, do it before your retreat. Either get it done, or plan to do it another time. Think about your menu and get the necessary groceries.
3.) Unplug. Can a silent retreat include TV and the internet?
It’s up to you but consider eliminating all electronic devices and distractions. The point is to spend some quality time with yourself. You’ll learn a lot about yourself by going without your normal distractions for a few days.
4.) Be patient.
If you’re not used to being alone and quiet, it can be quite maddening. Just allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling and relax. The end will come soon enough. Boredom is part of the game.
5.) Decide what you’re going to do.
What activities do you consider to be acceptable? Are you going to get caught up on work? Read? Meditate? Draw? Write? Plant a garden? Enjoy nature? Walk? Address your future? Heal from your past? Consider how you want to spend your time.
6.) Create a schedule.
Avoid the temptation to just play it by ear. Have a set of activities planned and allow yourself to choose from them. When one becomes too boring, stick with it for a while before moving to another activity.
7.) Make mindfulness a priority.
Avoid allowing yourself to just sit around and ruminate. Have defined tasks and keep your attention on those tasks. If you really want a break, this is the best break you can give yourself. Your mind is always running at full speed but being mindful can relax it.
8.) Use a journal.
Make the most of your retreat by capturing your thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Don’t let those great insights go to waste. Ensure that you record them for future reference.
9.) Consider getting out of the house.
You don’t have to conduct your silent retreat at home. Staying home is acceptable, but there are other alternatives. Consider going camping or renting a cabin. Even a hotel room can be an option. What type of setting would inspire you? Maybe you can camp in the backyard.
Silent retreats are nothing new. It’s a great way to train yourself to be mindful, present, and to give your body a well-deserved rest.
In Western civilization, a silent retreat is necessary from time to time. We could all use a break. Give yourself this gift. It will only take a few days and you’ll emerge as good as new!
As much as would like to write another 10,000 words on meditation we have to end somewhere.
I really hope you were able to learn a few things, have a few breakthroughs and get some inspiration to start or improve your meditation routine.
And if you haven't yet, download the 45 page eBook called, “Discover the Power of Mindfulness Meditation.”
Download it here!
Until next time, dream big my friend!
Please leave a comment below and let me know your biggest breakthrough from this article.