The Truth About Meditation
Meditation promises us a clearer mind, lower stress levels, and a sense of inner peace- so why is it that so many who try meditation for the first time usually don’t experience any of these things?
It is so important to truly understand the purpose of meditation and how it can benefit you. Beginners going into a meditation for the first time may find themselves disappointed, antsy, and unable to focus. Beginners may wonder, ‘how am I supposed to stop all of my thoughts? They just keep going no matter what I do! I’m just not able to meditate.” Experiences like this may turn potential practitioners off from further exploring meditation- even though there are many proven benefits.
The truth about meditation is that it is a practice of ‘being,’ rather than ‘doing.’
When approaching meditation, it's important to know that the goal is not to ‘eliminate all thoughts.’ Instead, the main intention in meditation is to shift our awareness- shift our thoughts to rest on our present moment experience. Thoughts in meditation are natural- it’s how we direct the thoughts that matters. When you notice yourself thinking about a work deadline or the long list of house chores you have to do during your meditation, acknowledge that those thoughts are not productive- and that they are taking you off into a moment that is not currently present, therefore heightening feelings of stress and anxiety. During moments like this, it is important to redirect your thoughts to something like the feeling of your breath moving in and out of your body, or general physical awareness of your body. For some, it can be helpful when establishing a meditation practice to think thoughts like: “Breathing in, I am breathing in. Breathing out, I am breathing out.” As you can see, this is not about eliminating all of our thoughts- but more about directing our thoughts to be aware of our present moment experience.
By knowing what to expect during your early meditations, you will be able to establish more patience and compassion for yourself on your meditation journey. Meditation is truly a life-changing practice with unlimited benefits. It is true that a consistent practice will lead to reduced stress and anxiety, improved sleep, and greater overall wellness. Each meditation you do will be different, some days it will be harder to focus than others- this is the work. Sitting down for a meditation is more about holding a safe space for yourself to become grounded, centered, and connected to your own inner peace.
Be patient as you explore the worthwhile benefits that meditation can bring.
Breathe in, breathe out, and begin today.