I used to be one of those kids at school who couldn’t sit still. Constantly fidgeting, distracting others and generally just causing a scene. My school reports had the usual theme of “she has so much potential…” statements. My scatterbrain nature also resulted in me always losing belongings, forgetting things easily, and starting tasks but not finishing them. The nature of this behavior meant that I consistently had a zillion thoughts buzzing around my mind. At the tender age of 17, I thought it was just how your brain worked – in continuous repetitive thought all the time. This affected my sleep as well as my mental and physical health. This continued to deteriorate after the Christchurch Earthquakes. After trying CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), and other forms of therapy, I begun to realize the responsibility for my own well-being was in my own hands. You can get all the external help in the world, but to really facilitate change it comes from within. Meditation is a fantastic tool for slowing down, going inward, being able to effectively reflect on your thought patterns, react to situations in a more positive manner, and calm the nervous system. It’s a yes from me!
Meditation is a mindful practice that helps us to clear the clutter from our mind. By simply sitting down and allowing yourself to just be, without judgement or analysis, we can eventually let go of thoughts that don’t serve us, and patterns that are clouding our perceptions. Meditation is simply a tool to training the mind. Rather than letting our thoughts consume us, causing stress, anxiety and tension in the body, meditation soothes the psyche by bringing your attention into the present moment. The simple practice of breath awareness allows you to watch the breath as it goes in and out (same as in Yoga!) and notice when the mind wanders from this. You don’t have to sit for hours and completely clear your mind, just gently return yourself to your breath. Without judgement, when you get lost in the narrative of thoughts you can simply draw your attention back to the immediate sensations of your breath and current experience. Every time you do this, you are becoming more mindful and creating new neural pathways in the brain. Over time, this can build the mental ‘muscle’ of attention and mindfulness.
I like to think of Meditation as a kind of ‘Spring Clean’ for the mind. We think up to 60,000 thoughts in one day, some of which can be detrimental and negative. The mind is constantly analysing, labeling and judging every single experience we have, which can become tiring and can impede our performance and mindset. Meditation can help you to see thoughts objectively, and which ones you don’t need to actually attach yourself to and get lost in. By bearing witness to the functioning of your mind, you become more in tune with yourself and the thoughts that both prohibit you AND advance you. When you develop this intricate personal understanding about yourself, you produce your very best work and create more opportunities for growth.
When I sat down to meditate for the first time and tried to still my mind, I was astounded at the re-occurring thoughts that kept springing into my head. This clutter in my head was weighing me down and holding me back from my true potential. In reality, all these thoughts are merely just perceptions. Stored ideas and beliefs that may have served us well in the past but are no longer necessary and aren’t helping us grow and evolve. The actual reality of our consciousness is that we are nothing but pure awareness, meaning that the thoughts we think are just habitual. Thoughts definitely serve a purpose when we need to use our brain to create logic or make a plan, but the incessant thinking that causes us stress and anxiety can be maintained through a meditation practice.
Since I have practiced Meditation regularly, I feel far more balanced, calm, centered and happier. Life isn’t perfect of course, but I believe through meditation you can really improve your state of mind and general well being. 😊