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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 they were in a rigid lock. My body felt so tense that I could feel blood rushing through my veins, almost as if the blood was popping out of my veins. My thoughts were so loud that I couldn’t even notice my body tension and instead felt bombarded with my mind. One time, I thought I was finally relaxing and only noticed my shoulders were raised up to my ears, when my yoga instructor gently pushed them down. My mind was used to racing at rapid speeds, to the point where I was completely cut off from noticing my body. Initially, I did not enjoy meditation in any form and tried my best to avoid any kind of stopping in a given moment. This was mostly in fear of feeling great sadness or having my thoughts run me, which in reality, they already were.

After my car accident, life became very challenging. Anxiety and depression began to rise, and I knew I had to try something else, anything else. With lingering injuries, my life had changed, and even though I fought to think positively, the reality of not being able to do all the things I once could was very apparent. I fought the truth as much as I could, I was good at hiding from things, but it caught up to me. I became sick and tired, then I became sick and tired of being sick and tired. So, I enrolled in pain clinic courses where meditation, stretching and being mindful were all daily practices. So, I practiced. The more I practiced, the more breathing deeply became something that I looked forward to. Somedays, I can still be restless, and I just notice this and let it pass. Somedays, I don’t let it pass, and I get angry with myself, and then I try again. You can always try again. It’s not about getting it right or wrong, and it took me a long time to finally realize this. Being a perfectionist, made not having an answer or not knowing if I was doing something the "right" way, very tough for my brain to comprehend, but eventually I got it. This realization, in turn, allowed me to have more acceptance for myself, my circumstances and others, and the knowledge to know that it all changes.

Life is ever-changing, we are ever-changing. If you asked me five years ago, if I would have meditation as my morning and night routine, I would say no way. I would also probably have been running off to something, doing more, achieving more, never slowing down, never listening to my inner wisdom within. I needed a car accident to slow me down, and as much pain, physically and emotionally that this accident has caused, I can say, I am much more aware of what I think and feel, which allows me to really advocate for myself and live the life I want to live. Reflecting inwards is a life enhancer, and who doesn’t want a life enhancer!??! Reflection allows me to find my voice, and opens up my true potential to being the best version of myself in a demanding time. I recognized I can exist in a demanding time, without being the demanding time.

My hope for you is that you can do the same. Here is the link to my latest meditation focusing on breathing and the themes of love, peace, and joy. Enjoy.

Happy Joying XO ~ Love Cynth

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