Meditation, it’s a thing I’ve been doing for a couple of years now and the (mental) health benefits it bring are quite numerous. I’ve been using a guided meditation app called Headspace , because I didn’t have any prior experience with meditation. This app offers a whole lot more nowadays than it did when I started using it. From guided meditation, to stress relief, sleep meditation, soundscapes and much more. But I’m not mentioning it to promote it. That’s not the point of today’s post. What I wanted to talk about today is how being present and “in the moment” can really be helpful to focus on what’s most important to you.
Isn’t meditation something only mystics do?
“Being present” is probably something you hear all the time. Either that or the term mindfulness, or some other modern term. It seems that the Western world is looking at the Eastern world a lot over the years with yoga classes, meditation and here, in the Netherlands, I’ve seen my fair share of Buddha statues in people’s homes. Whenever you ask them if they are by any means Buddhists themselves they usually answer something along the lines of: “Well, I admire a lot about them and I wish to be more zen. So having a Buddha in my house inspires me.”
That’s all well and good, but a lot of people forget that it takes those Buddhist monks years of practice and hours of meditation to reach their levels of control and calm.
Being a mostly scientific minded person, I only started meditating after I had read that it was scientifically proven that meditation really helps us. I’m very down to earth and don’t really believe in “mumbo jumbo”, although I am always respectful to what other people believe. So, with that out of the way, I set out on my journey and am now meditating on a daily basis for the past few years!
Lingering on thoughts can be counterproductive
One of the biggest problems we have as Human beings is that it is impossible not to think. Have you ever tried? Maybe you’ll be able to do it for a second, but then a little voice pops up, “I shouldn’t think right now.” And that’s where it goes wrong, because you just had a thought about not thinking and before you know it, you’re down the rabbit hole of thinking again. What’s even worse is dwelling on your thoughts. Especially when you’re stuck in memories, or thinking about “what if” scenarios in your head. All such thoughts can be highly counterproductive. One of the absolute worst things I could get stuck in myself was going over a future talk with someone and imagining all the possible outcomes. The problem is that such talks were never anything like I imagined them to be and the outcome usually different from what I feared most. In other words, it’s no use to dwell on such thoughts, because they don’t really add anything to your current situation and overanalyzing every social interaction only leads to suffering, your suffering.
What meditation can do to alleviate this thinking pain
Meditation helps to train your mind to know that you are thinking and can help you to release those thoughts so you are once again in this moment. The beauty is that it’s relatively simple to learn this, but it is quite hard to maintain your vigilance. We are all Human and we can’t turn off our thinking capability when we’re awake, but we can learn to develop a sense that tells us: “Hey, this is a thought.” and you can then let it go, if it’s not relevant at that moment, so you can focus on what’s important. I’m not saying that you should never think again, quite the opposite, because we didn’t get that big beautiful brain of ours for nothings, but what I am trying to convey is that there will be a lot of times when all you really want to do is being present. Focusing your attention on what is truly important and not lingering on negative thoughts. Meditation is a great method of achieving just that! So, why not try it yourself sometime? Or, if you do meditate on a regular basis, how has your experience been?
Have a nice day!
Jeffrey, A good post getting readers more into meditation that you have spoken of before. Love the quote on being in the present; “Of the moment, be. In the moment, live. The art of remaining in the present, learn. Neither the past nor the future exists.” Trying not to think is something I fell into when I was 25-30 years old, on my own conclusion, when trying to help & advise my dying father. And you are absolutely right that it is difficult & you fall right back into the thought process. What I have read confirms what you said re to keep at it & you will improve, fall back & fail, but keep practicing & improve. And, as you say, mediation is the answer to improve wiping your mind clear. What I need is not an app with various choices & alternatives, but a simple model to embrace & practice. I am sure I would benefit immediately, but Geri’s upcoming surgery in two weeks is a difficult dominating thought to overcome. Thanks for this post! Phil
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