At some point in our lives, we’ve all come across this mystical practice called ‘Meditation,’ and we all know that it helps improve concentration and focus, and helps unscrew the pressure screws on your brain therefore lowering stress. Some of you might have tried a hand at this ‘esoteric’ art in order to experience its benefits – but after sitting quietly for a few minutes, you figured out that your mind doesn’t stop wandering no matter how hard you try. Maybe pulling in resources from your willpower, you even tried it for a few days but eventually gave up saying, “it’s too tough for me to clear my mind…” Or, “this meditation thing might be good but it is not my thing.”
If you’ve been there, and done precisely that, worry not, because I am here to break all your meditation myths with my article, and provide you some very doable tips and suggestions in order to get started off with Meditation and then make it a regular practice!
Age-old concepts of Meditation
Back in the age of saints, they would sit in a secluded place (most of us can think of the Himalayas in the backdrop!) with their eyes closed, body in the lotus position, mind at peace with the self and the world without – and sit there for hours at a stretch, maybe even days. They controlled their hunger and other bodily demands by the sheer power of their brain that they had developed with deep meditation. Their aim was to raise their consciousness levels, to think beyond themselves, to understand the universe, beyond the human plane, to get into the state of ‘super consciousness.’
There are Zen monks in Tibet even in this age, who, with the power of the meditation, sail through harsh winters with just one piece of cloth on their body.
But neither the saints of yore, or the Zen monks embody the objectives of a modern age human being. We do not have as much time in hand, we cannot dedicate hours to meditation, and probably do not have attaining nirvana as a goal on our minds. So, in this modern day and age that lives in the fast lane, what is the scope of this seemingly ‘mystical’ practice?
First things first, meditation is not about being in a thoughtless state. It is, in fact, quite the contrary. Your brain is programmed in a way that it will use a single thought to create a chain reaction of thoughts, and we have hundreds of thousands of such chain reactions every single day. So, what you want to do with meditation is not to dismantle this chain reaction mechanism, but rather to focus your brain to think along those lines that you want it to.
Watching your breath
For beginners, it is best that you start with focusing on your breath. Watch the air enter your nostrils and then feel it move through the pipes leading into the lungs. Feel your lungs expand as the air fills every available space, and see your chest go up and your belly go in. Then visualize your lungs tagging back all the carbon dioxide on the same breath as it rushes out of your body – your chest moves down and the belly relaxes, moving outward.
This inhalation-exhalation is the most basic process we carry out day in-day out, and it is not even a conscious task for us – the body does it on its own. But when you ‘watch your breath,’ you learn a fundamental principle that is key to great mental health – to stay in the moment. No matter if it is for just a second or even lesser, you train your brain to gradually stop lingering in the past or dwelling on pictures of the future, and to just concentrate on where you are in the present moment.
You can refer to this video for a guided experience of mindfulness:
If you do not quite enjoy the simple breathing method, try ‘Box breathing.’ It is a more dynamic form and keeps you more engaged (conscious) and serves the purpose of harnessing the brain. Start with 10-15 minutes and play with the time as you grow to enjoy it. (Disclaimer: It is highly addictive and you would want to spend more and more time in the zone as you start getting a hang of it!)
I wouldn’t promise that it’ll turn your life upside down in a week, but in a few weeks, you will start to see the change. You will not get as worked up about trivial complications and setbacks in life, as often as you did before. The mad rush in your life of things just running chaotically – that will slow down. You will start loving yourself more as you progress with your meditation efforts, and these, my dear readers, will surely impact all the areas of your life in the most beneficial and uplifiting way.
Some scientifically proven benefits of meditation:
- Increases Happiness
- Improves Focus and Concentration
- Improves Mental Strength
- Improves your Introspection abilities
- Enhances Creativity
- Decreases Stress and Anxiety
- Depresses Depression itself!
And on top of it all, in this world where so much is happening and you are always caught up with work, family, friends, news, or social media, meditation gives you precious time to be with yourself. As Gautam Buddha said “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
This is the first part of a series of articles on meditation – a series in which I propose to take you through the various forms of meditation with guides and resources, share my personal experiences in meditation, and ultimately show how it has a tangible impact on your life and can become the one thing that can change you for good.
So let go of stress and take control of your happiness! Stay calm and stay healthy!
Article Credits – Ankit Mishra