What is Meditation and Why do it?
What Is Meditation and Why would someone do this?
Recently, I led a Mindfulness workshop, where I shared some tools about how to be more present in the given moment. One of the tools that I shared was a meditation that I created. The meditation included breathing techniques and positive affirmations, and was created from my student's ideas about what they wanted to hear to pump them up each morning. We have started to use it each morning in class, and they really enjoy it. After looking through some of the feedback forms, I realized that not everyone knows what meditation is or the benefits of meditation. Meditation is basically focusing the mind on stillness. Usually the focusing of the mind is done through concentration on one’s breath. In turn, when one concentrates on their breath, this allows one’s body to slow down, producing a calm inner state. Meditation is also a practice that allows one to be mindful, which is paying attention to one particular thing in a given moment, thus, training the brain to be able to find the same peace of mind in a regular day. Just like a pause between an inhale and exhale, through meditation your mind learns to take a pause in between moments of challenge, which in turn allows a space to choose a response, rather than an automatic reaction.
Much like life itself, meditation is a practice and a process, ever-changing from one day to the next. I remember when I asked my mom if she wanted to join me in a meditation group and her response was: “no I am not good at that and I don’t do it right.” Meditation isn’t something that we are good at or not and there is no right or wrong, it just simply breathing and focusing on your breath in each given moment. There isn’t an end goal, nor something to achieve, nor something to get to. All there is, is the very moment. Sometimes people think the end goal is to have no thoughts, and that it is about zoning out. Meditation is not zoning out, but instead being aware. The mind may wander, and some days it may wander more than others. Your job isn’t to get mad at yourself, but instead to notice, and then kindly bring yourself back to your breath.
A guided meditation is one where someone is instructing you through steps. There are many types of meditation that focus on different themes or goals. Each person is different in what kind of meditation they prefer, and each person’s likes and dislikes change over time. I wasn’t always someone who enjoyed meditation. Even though research has shown meditation has many benefits to reducing stress and increase in health, when I first started this practice of stillness, I absolutely hated it. I felt restless to the point where all my muscles felt like the