You were born whole, pure, and perfect from the moment you took your first breath. You came into this world completely innocent, curious, and full of excitement, and as the years went by, layers upon layers of experience led to your conditioning. You developed core values, personas, and beliefs that began to mold you into the person you are today—at least, the person you think you are today.
At some point, you may have had a moment of awakening where you question who you really are and why you are here. It is upon this threshold that if you choose to follow these questions further, the path will inevitably lead to some form of meditation. Where you go from there and what you choose to do with it is up to you.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is an age-old art practiced in one way or another throughout the centuries by various religions and spiritual traditions worldwide. In many places, the practice is intended to bring about self-actualization through experiencing altered states of consciousness, thus arriving at a knowingness that the world you believe to be real is maya—a mere illusion. The teachings of Vedanta guide you to be still and know that you are God—to see and experience yourself as nothing more than a drop in the ocean of consciousness and to experience yourself as an individuated expression of God.
In more modern times, the process has been presented more simply and for the purpose of relaxing the mind, calming the emotions, and countering the adverse effects of stress. It’s less about sitting at the feet of the guru or spending years in an ashram chanting up the sun. Not everyone today is keen to practices of the ancient ways, and yet, science has provided evidence of the palpable benefits of sitting in stillness and silence on a regular basis. Supporting this, you can see meditation centers popping up in resorts, on street corners, and even in airports worldwide, giving the everyday modern seeker the opportunity to duck inside and take some much-needed “time in.”
Meditation as a Method to Counter Stress Culture
There’s no disputing the fact that never-ending to-do lists and overachieving tendencies have left a fair amount of the population hanging on by the proverbial thread. You may feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and ultimately confused about where you are going—or why. Burning the candle from both ends can send you into a state of fatigue, which you battle against at great lengths so that you might finally arrive at some elusive place where life levels out and all is peaceful and calm.
As of 2018, 74 percent of UK adults felt so stressed that they were overwhelmed and unable to cope. A third of the population considered suicide while a fair amount of them actually did self-harm. Here in America, the United States of Stress, stress is charted as being at an all-time high with Generation Z being the highest, followed by Millennials, Gen Xers, and then Baby Boomers.
You don’t need a rundown of statistics to know what creates stress within yourself. The research puts in black and white what you may be more inclined to sweep under the carpet as a means to pretend everything is okay and that you are just fine.
The point here is that mindfulness practices such as meditation, when tended to regularly, are an effective approach to countering the stressors of everyday living. Meditation has its benefits ranging from stress reduction, less anxiety, more meaningful relationships, and increased mental, emotional, and physical well-being. For a solid list of 12 science-based benefits of meditation, check out this article on Healthline.
Add Meditation to Your Daily Life
Naturally, you desire to live a life of health, happiness, joy, and fulfillment. For some, that includes a deeper connection to who you are, why you are here, and what it is you’re meant to do with the time you have. Regardless of your motives, it all begins with first cultivating self-awareness; in other words, coming to better know and understand yourself. When you have awareness, only then are you able to create changes within yourself, and it’s through directing your conscious attention that you then have the ability to make choices that are aligned with who you truly are. In short, some are in it for the spiritual benefits, while some just want to relax and clear their mind from daily stressors. Whatever the intended outcome for each individual, consistency is key.
How often should you meditate? Whatever you focus your attention on grows stronger, and that which you pull your attention away from grows weaker. Therefore, a consistent daily meditation practice is sure to wield the best results. In honing a skillset of any kind, one must dedicate to practice, practice, practice—every day. When you set goals, you must take action to move forward every day. In your health and fitness, you need to get up and exercise, tend to your nutrition, and wind down for restful sleep on a regular basis to maintain the desired results. Without placing your intention and attention on the thing you hope to achieve or accomplish, there’s not much chance that it will come to fruition. In other words, crisis meditation doesn’t cut it.
Meditation is a cumulative practice and that means it needs to become as much a part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth. The best part is that the results can be felt immediately after meditating—which is something people of modern times crave—immediate gratification. Think about it. If ever you’ve allowed yourself to sit and breathe and just BE for a few moments, you already know that you come away from the experience feeling calmer, centered, and balanced—perhaps even a little bit lighter. You also likely noticed that you were more aware of yourself and your surroundings as you stood back up to resume activity after your time in stillness. You can think of daily meditation as your time to step away from the craziness of your everyday life and plug into a space of silence where everything seems to quiet down even if for just a short period of time.
Now, imagine if you took 20-30 minutes each morning before you begin your daily routine to meditate; this would change the way you show up in your life each day. Imagine if you could begin each day from that grounded, calm, and peaceful place how much differently you will experience life. Everything changes for the better when you have a daily meditation practice because it allows you to settle into yourself, become aware of who you are and how you would like to create your reality.
At the end of the day, meditation is a practice suitable for beginners and advanced spiritual practitioners alike. What’s great about it is that you can practice it anywhere without any props and there are numerous approaches and styles of meditation. Try out a few forms of meditation and see what most resonates with you at this time in your life. You may find that you enjoy themed or guided meditations for dealing with specific issues while a silent meditative practice might befit your everyday routine and benefit your overall mental health. Allow yourself to be curious and to experiment with different forms of meditation until you find your groove. And once you make meditating a habit, you’ll notice how it helps life flow a little more effortlessly.