If I asked you whether you’d rather have the ability to time travel or to read people’s minds, which one would you pick? I venture it might be 50-50 in this scenario, but I wonder how many people think about how they already can time travel, at least, mentally speaking! Mental time-travel is what we do when we relive a moment from our past over and over again, ruminating on what went wrong or what we ought to’ve done. It also happens when we get anxious and worried about the future, trying to plan for the worst and instead only managing to magnify our fears.
In contrast, Meditation and mindfulness invite you to be fully in the present moment, with your mind, body, and soul. Neuroscientist Amishi Jha defines mindfulness as “paying attention to present-moment experience without conceptual elaboration or emotional reactivity.” In other words, just being in the here and now without judging it or comparing it.
Meditation, then, is the act of being deeply mindful. You sit or lay comfortably, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. If your mind wanders, you don’t judge yourself for this, you simply return your mind to your breathing. Each time your mind wanders, you gently return it. The more often you practice, the easier it will get. It is best to start small, setting yourself a timer for 5 or 10 minutes, and as you get better at focusing on your breath, you may want to stretch this as far as 15 minutes or half an hour. As you slowly increase your time, you’ll find that your mind wanders less and less. And even if it does, it’s okay, just return it again to your breathing.
The benefits of meditation are still being studied today. It is known that it can improve your focus, lower your stress, and help you connect to yourself better, along with a reduced amount of brain chatter. For such great rewards, it most certainly is worth 5 or 10 minutes of my day every day. But again, start slow, maybe one or two mornings a week and work your way up.
Similar to using affirmations and placing them about your home/work, reminders to meditate can be used as well. Something like a Buddha statue in the garden, or a mandala magnet on the fridge, or a Namaste written on a sticky note and affixed to your computer monitor. Whatever your sign may be, subtle or overt, take it as a cue to spend a few minutes of your day focusing on the moment you are in.
When we practice mindfulness and meditation, we learn to calm our brain and take notice. When do you use meditation? Have you found benefit in your life from a practice of meditating? Leave a comment below and let us know how it is beneficial in your life!