Why you should practice Meditation
Updated: Mar 9, 2020
Do you practice mindfulness on a regular basis?
Mindfulness and meditation are tried and true methods to create a sense of peace and awareness of yourself and your surroundings.
Meditation isn't something that I was very familiar with until the past year or so, but I quickly became a big fan. I used to be a little confused as to what meditation was. As a kid, I thought it was when someone sat with crossed legs, saying “ommmm” for a long time. I didn't know what it was or what its purpose was; I just knew it was a thing.
When I finally realized what meditation was, I recognized that I've actually been doing it my whole life.
There are many forms of meditation.
The idea behind meditation is relaxation, with a peaceful and calm awareness, as you focus on the present.
I will speak about several types of meditation.
Firstly, breathing exercises are very valuable in calming yourself, and in bringing your whole body to focus. It's amazing how much power the breath has when you really focus on it. The breath is always happening, so you can always turn your focus to it.
We spend very little time actually thinking about our breathing. We breathe about 20,000 times a day, and we don't even notice most of it. But it's a constant rhythm, and it's one of the major aspects of life. As Miyagi said in Karate Kid II, “No breathe, no life.”
Breathing can help bring your focus back to the basics of life. As you breathe in and out, focus on your heartbeat as well. These are your two rhythms of life. They give you something to concentrate on so that you can clear your mind of other distractions. It also grounds you in the present, which is an important part of meditation and mindfulness.
Relaxation concentration exercises
This is more commonly known as guided meditation, but I was raised with it being called relaxation concentration exercises. I never knew this was meditation, but I loved it. Growing up, my family had a drama troupe. Sometimes, before we performed, my mom would have us all lie down on the floor and turn off the lights. In a soft voice, she would walk us through a guided meditation.
First, we would do some deep breathing and focus on relaxing each part of our body. Often we’d imagine ourselves in beautiful settings. I loved it, and throughout my life I would use those exercises to help calm myself, or help myself fall asleep. I didn't know that anyone other than my family did this.
In fact, I searched for relaxation concentration exercises for years, but could never find them. Eventually, I realized the more commonly used term was guided meditation. Now I use guided meditation all the time, and I love it (I did it just half an hour ago as I’m writing this).
Guided Meditation has a lot of different purposes. It can help you reduce stress, find focus, help you in your breathing exercises, and help you become more aware of yourself and your surroundings. It is quite relaxing as well.
I started doing this more regularly when I found the Stop, Breathe & Think app. I started using this app for guided meditations almost a year ago. Using it regularly gave me a much more calm sense of peace. I found myself physically changing from it. I could feel that I was able to relax and let go of tension faster than I ever had before.
I got to put it into practice at one point, when a very stressful situation was suddenly presented to me. Within a few seconds my heart rate was up to around 90-100 and I was starting to breathe really heavily. Fortunately, I utilized some of those exercises that I had learned from guided meditation, and calmed myself down. I was impressed with myself because I handled it much better than I previously would have.
I wouldn't say I handled it amazingly, but I had improved significantly. I'm still not great at it, but I feel like I'm much more able to handle stressful situations because of it.
It seems that life only gets harder, so it's good to always improve your stress capacity. After all, life is just going to get more stressful. That's okay though, because as life gets tougher, we get tougher with it and our ability to cope with difficulties improves.
Another form of meditation is prayer. I find that taking time to pray and commune with God doesn't necessarily mean you have to talk the whole time. Some of the most effective sessions I've had is when I talk some, and then I reflect in silence. I look for feelings and ideas that might come to me, to help guide me in that aspect.
When you exercise a meditative prayer, I feel like it's a lot more effective. It helps you become more focused and involved and it helps prevent you from simply saying your prayer and forgetting about it. If you pray and then reflect, wait, and listen, you can get a lot more out of it.
Mindfulness can be connected with the guided meditation, but it's about noticing what's around you, and being fully grounded in the present. Mindfulness includes you paying attention to the sounds and noises you hear and the feelings you have. You examine each part of your body, see the state it's in, and observe your stress, tension, feelings, and thoughts. You aren’t necessarily try to change these, but simply become aware of what you're doing.
It's amazing how much we are not aware of. For instance, when you lie down in bed, you usually don't think about all the sensations you are having at that moment. If you want to mindfully lay down in bed, you feel the touch of the blanket with its texture and warmth. As you lift the blanket and move to sit down in bed, you feel the texture of the floor beneath your feet. You smell the aroma in the room, see the colors and texture of the bed, and hear the rustle of the sheets. When you lay down, you feel every part of your body that's touching the bed, noticing where the most pressure is. You become aware of everything that's going on around your body. It's a very good exercise to try out.
With mindfulness, going back to the breath is a good default. You focus on those sensations, and it helps your mind focus and concentrate on what you're doing. That helps enrich your capacity to focus and stay in the present as you think about what's going on right now. Alleviate your worries about the future or your frets about the past, and focus on what is going on right now.
You can practice mindfulness, no matter where you are. You can do it when you're driving, when you're cooking dinner, playing with your skill toys, or when you're on a walk; just be aware and try to really observe everything that's going on around you, using all five senses.
Being in the present
Meditation is about being in the present. We want to focus. Obviously, we have to think about the future and we have to think about the past, but too often, we dwell on those and we don't remember to live in the moment. Meditation is designed to help us really feel alive, as we are doing something that is completely centered in the present.
When meditating, you're not necessarily thinking about what you're going to do, you're just doing whatever it is you're doing for the sole purpose of living in the moment. There's something really peaceful about that. We can't always do it, but it's a very nice exercise as it can help calm you down, concentrate, relax, feel more aware, and make a difference in your health.
Meditation is highly praised by a lot of successful people. It's something that Hal Elrod talks about in the Miracle Morning as one of the six key routines to achieve success. It’s an exercise that can really help you develop your own abilities and become more of the person you want to be.
I want you to take just a few minutes and meditate in whatever way you want to. Set a timer for five minutes. Spend that time breathing or focusing on something. If you haven’t meditated before, I’d recommend using a guided meditation. You can use the Stop, Breathe & Think app; I like it better than the other meditation apps I've tried. You can also keep doing whatever it is you're doing, but think about everything you feel, touch, taste, smell, see, and hear. Focus on what is going on around you and inside of you right now.
Don't think about what you're doing in a few minutes. If you're washing the dishes, only think about washing the dish you're washing at that moment. Live in the moment with mindfulness. Spend five minutes doing that and see how it feels.