Mom + Family Life | Selfcare + Mindfulness

The Power of Meditation: What It Is and What Meditation Isn’t

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Let me start by saying I’ve been avoiding writing this post. The title taunts me, nothing more than an empty page, daring me to try. Humbled and persistent, today is the day I’m going to attempt to explain how meditation can change your life. This topic feels so big and important, I want to get it right.

You might have these questions:

What is meditation really? And let’s look at what meditation isn’t. How can meditation help you? That’s right YOU! Not the experienced Zen Master, but everyday you.

I’ve been incorporating meditation into my life for about ten years now, but I’m embarrassed to say that when asked about it I get tongue tied. I can’t seem to produce a response better than, “It’s just great.” C’mon, is that all I’ve got to say for this life changing, soul saving, sanity balancing practice. Uh Huh, it’s that good!

What is Meditation?

So you know what they say, when you can’t find the words, steal someone else’s:

“When we speak of meditation, it is important for you to know that this is not some weird cryptic activity, as our popular culture might have it. It does not involve becoming some kind of zombie, vegetable, self-absorbed narcissist, navel gazer, “space cadet,” cultist, devotee, mystic, or Eastern philosopher. Meditation is simply about being yourself and knowing something about who that is. It is about coming to realize that you are on a path whether you like it or not, namely, the path that is your life. Meditation may help us see that this path we call our life has direction; that it is always unfolding, moment by moment; and that what happens now, in this moment, influences what happens next.”

Jon Kabat Zinn – Wherever You go There You Are

He took the words right out of my mouth, seriously — although my words may have lacked the eloquent speech and clarity. What a near perfect description of the true essence of meditation from the master himself.

Meditation and Thoughts

Meditation is a practice for observing thoughts and for being more mindful of them throughout the day.

Our mind does a lot of thinking, we usually aren’t even aware of what’s happening; it goes unnoticed into our subconscious. But these thoughts are powerful and sometimes thoughts can spiral into negative thoughts and control us.

Meditation will give you powerful tools to be the watcher of our minds. By watching your mind you can prevent urges and negative thoughts, it will strip away everything and leave you alone with the simplicity of each moment.

My meditation practice is a teeter totter struggle between falling asleep or trying unsuccessfully to shut off the woody woodpecker of my mind.

There are days that I couldn’t possibly be watching my thoughts because I’m actually falling asleep in my chair and other days my mind will be zigzagging across the world; scrolling through to do lists, wondering about my weekend plans and even sneaking a peak at my peaceful meditating Buddhist teacher (which I feel very guilty about and immediately close my eyes).

But every now and then I hit a peaceful calm somewhere deep in the Pacific and I settle on a wave somewhere in-between ragged thoughts and sinking consciousness; this is where the magic happens and I sigh and think, finally, this is what everyone is talking about.

You can get there, start with a practice of 2 minutes a day, that’s all it takes.

Take a few minutes to give your brain a break…and who reading this right now doesn’t need a break! Don’t leave without snagging your Free Meditation Starter Kit which includes 7 pages of meditation’s most FAQs, along with a printable meditation cheat sheet and journal. If you’re ready for a healthierhappier mind, then say #heckyeah!

Meditation Starter kit

By watching our mind and our stream of thoughts; we can acknowledge and accept our thoughts. We can become comfortable with the present moment by allowing some space and clarity in. No matter how hard it may be and even if your mind zigzags’ all across the world you’ll still notice many benefits seeping into your everyday life.

Now that we’ve had a brief introduction on what meditation is, we are going to look at what meditation isn’t!

What Meditation Isn't
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Meditation Starter Kit

Did you download your starter kit? Amazing! I hope it helps you on your journey.

What is meditation really?

Meditation Sticker

Despite all it’s popularity most people don’t actually know what meditation is.

They might envision meditation to be someone sitting peacefully while imagining a babbling brook surrounded by chirping birds.

Although that does sound quite lovely and it is a great meditation technique, a technique is only a method to try to quiet the mind; it isn’t meditation, it is simply a method.

Meditator’s often use visual or audio techniques because it is very difficult to stop our minds altogether. The goal of these methods is to slow down, calm and quiet the incessant chatter of our minds.

Meditation is not a special activity or hobby that you designate to do once a week.

Like the methods above scheduling a time to meditate can help form the habit, but sitting on cushion envisioning flowers is not meditating; meditating is essentially a way of being; you can be in meditation no matter where you are. The avid yogi balancing in tree pose could be much farther from meditation than the hardworking bricklayer.

When you begin meditating you will not see vibrant colors, connect with life from other planets, have outer body experiences or solve all your human problems.

When I first started meditating, I’m ashamed to say I actually left the class feeling disappointed. There were no awe-inspiring epiphanies or no instant life-altering changes. But for reasons unknown, the very next week I was back in that chair excited to see where my mind would take me.

Unconsciously we crave this natural state of stillness and calmness. Meditation has a seducing effect that leaves you curious for more. It seeps into your life, it will never gush in and it’s not instant. There is no quick fad diet like scheme’s to get there and much like exercise you won’t see results overnight. But with focus, concentration, and practice it will happen.

Meditation isn’t relaxation.

Huh? I know your thinking what could be more relaxing than sitting silently amongst nature sounds? Meditation actually takes a lot of mental focus and energy. Yes, we are very relaxed while we meditate, but not so relaxed that our mind slips into sluggishness. If you catch yourself snoring, well, then your body likely needs rest more than it needs meditation at that moment.

Meditation is not positive thinking.

Positive thinking is great and very useful (and I will write an article on the power of positive thinking) but at the end of the day, positive thinking is just more thinking and it’s all that thinking that causes us to get confused. Meditation is actually watching your thinking; without reaction and with acceptance.

Meditation won’t solve all your outer problems.

It won’t make them go away, and it won’t prevent future problems but what it will do is give you the clarity and calmness to deal with your outer problems.

We lack control over external conditions and that leaves us feeling powerless to our outer problems. This is a mistaken belief. Our problems don’t lie outside of our control, they are outer problems, that’s all. We don’t have to make them inner problems, we can have a lot of turmoil on the surface but still be calm and peaceful at the core. Through meditation, we grow the wisdom to understand that we are not powerless to all the outer turmoil.

We are responsible for the state of our inner being.

Is this just hippie talk? What happens when we meditate – – Physically?

Science daily suggests that our brains go through various brain wave changes when meditating. Our brains are normally in the beta phase, the awake, normal alert consciousness. The beta phase can be exhausting; we do a lot of thinking and we are bombarded with a lot of content. This puts a drain on our cognitive abilities. By entering into calming states of mind we refuel our brains. After meditating we usually feel calm, focused, clear, motivated, inspired, renewed.

Even the first time we meditate we can enter the Alpha Phase; it is during this relaxed calm lucid state that we begin to realize how good stillness feels. We can relate this feeling to a runner’s or exercise high. You’re thoughts quiet and you become one with the moment.

Then after some time and practice, we might enter the Theta brainwave; this state is unlike anything a non-meditator has ever experienced.

Finally, the Zen Buddhist masters have been shown in EEG’s to produce Delta brainwaves, which is the same as normal people in deep restorative sleep.

I can relate to experiences of feeling like my body was interconnected to the universe, through a visualization technique of imaging my body as a white light, my skin and bones melted away and I became a ball of energy, the only thing left was my true essence at the core of my being. It is amazing! I have also been known to feel a buzz or glow in my head where everything becomes over joyous.

I’m also happy to report that I’m starting to experience intense moments in everyday life. Walking through the forest or sitting quietly reading, I suddenly become extremely present and aware of everything around me. The effects of meditation are seeping in and I love it.

“Meditation is a scientifically proven way of improving our well being in general. Millions of people today in the world are using the ancient discipline for many purposes, including stress management, health improvement, motivation and success in business, education etc.” – Free meditation.com

On a Deeper Level…

But on a much deeper level then changing habits and understanding our thoughts, meditation is a doorway into the mysteries of the universe. It can help us get a sense of the mystery of life.

Our usual sense of self-disappears and we realize our oneness with the universe. Feelings of awe, love, and gratitude for life itself permeate through you.

With practice, you will begin to notice gaps between your thoughts – moments in which there are no thoughts or feelings, just a peaceful openness. With time we can make these gaps grow longer and then we can begin to rest within them.

When we rest in these gaps our usual cloudy views of the self, others and objects changes, we begin to experience a lack of separation between everything our senses grasp at.

We are all connected on a deep, cosmic level and when we can feel this connection not just intellectually grasp this concept we can rewire our entire lives.

I encourage you to get started right away; all you need is 2 minutes a day and a quiet spot to sit silently.

The complexity of meditation can’t possibly be explained in one article. I will dive into each of the facets of this wonderful practice a little deeper in the coming months.

Take a few minutes to give your brain a break…and who reading this right now doesn’t need a break! Don’t leave without snagging your Free Meditation Starter Kit which includes 7 pages of meditation’s most FAQs, along with a printable meditation cheat sheet and journal. If you’re ready for a healthierhappier mind, then say #heckyeah!

Meditation Starter kit

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