Become less reactionary, gain mental clarity and focus, be more engaged and present in the moment; these are some of the benefits of meditation. Meditation is touted as being a powerful tool for stress reduction and greater overall inner peace, but why?
Ok, sit with me for a moment. Pretend you could witness my mind during a morning meditation session. This morning for example I chose to keep my breath soft and natural and focus on the ambient sounds in the quiet room and the mental hum that is perceived when everything is completely quiet. But as I settle in I start to struggle with the tension I feel building up in my left hip, so I adjust it, which takes me out of my point of focus. When I realize this, I redirect my mind back to the point of focus. I do this a few times realizing I shouldn’t try to control the tension in my hip, rather I should just let it be and remind myself that I am not just this body, which helps me get back into a state of focus. Now random scenarios start darting in and out of my mind: the weird dream I had last night, my current short term life goals, etc. Then I realize, 'oh yeah, I’ve wandered again.' I finally settle back into my focused state of mind and when the alarm goes off, I feel relaxed alert and ready to teach.
So Joan, were you really meditating? Technically, perhaps only for a few moments, but it’s the act of redirecting the mind, over an extended period of regular practice, that creates the quantitative effects on neural pathways. We are training our mind to recognize that there is a greater force in control of our consciousness and that force is driven by higher cognitive thinking. Now it’s crucial that we engage in this mental conditioning when we are in a controlled setting so that throughout our day, when life is just flinging stimulus at us, we are able to step back and remember, ‘oh yeah, I’m the one that’s in control here, I can choose, I can make a conscious choice on how I want to show up for myself, how I want to create my life.’
With a mind trained through meditation, when we are engaging in our day to day life, we can catch ourselves when we are ‘zoning out’ and not being present. We can choose how to react to challenging situations. And when we don’t act in a way that reflects who we think we are at our core, we are able to take accountability and bring it back to ourselves in an honest self-reflective state that may eventually resolve the undesirable action.
Like I said, this is a practice that demands long term discipline in order to have these profound effects. But why not give it a shot. You’re worth it. To use a Matrix movie example, meditation is the red pill. Do you want to live an unconscious life controlled by whatever external influences you are under or do you want to be guided by a conscious mind that is directed by your higher self and the benefit of your higher good and the higher good of the collective conscious?