Some time ago I decided that I wanted to start meditating, and make it a part of my daily routine. I first read all the right books about meditation and I watched tens of videos on YouTube. I also took an online class about meditation because I wanted to better understand the way it works, and also the effect it has on the body and on the mind.
I felt better when I realized that I don’t have to become a yogi, go to a retreat, or change my religion to meditate. When I finally had all the info I needed and started meditating, I put so much pressure on myself that I got exactly the opposite effect. Meditation was supposed to calm me down and make me relax; instead, I was tense and anxious, and I still didn’t know exactly how to do it. If I kept my back straight, I wasn’t quite relaxed. If I relaxed a bit, then my back wasn’t straight anymore. Sometimes, my eyes would open and I could hear some background noise. The 5-minute meditation I started with seemed like a one hour meditation.
But I wanted to meditate and then I changed my approach a bit. I found a comfortable position, I tried to relax, and I didn’t care that my back wasn’t perfectly straight. I closed my eyes and I was OK if they sometimes would open. I made peace with the background noise, I accepted it as a part of my meditation, and I returned to my routine. I realized that those 5 minutes of meditation can be anything I wanted them to be. I could watch my breath, scan my body, or quiet my mind. I learned to transform it into a gentle and soothing mindful practice because that’s what I needed it to be.
These are some of the reasons I enjoy meditation:
- I realized that meditation helps me develop a greater sense of awareness, because besides those five or ten minutes of daily meditation, I try to be more mindful and I pause more often during the day to taste my meals, watch the sky, notice the birdsongs, savor my coffee, and acknowledge my emotions. There is no point in being mindful for 10 or 20 minutes a day practicing meditation, if the rest of 23 hours a day I am unmindful.
- I learned to focus on my breathing – I didn’t even realize how superficial my breathing was. Taking a few minutes to close my eyes and watch my breathing can be really calming. Now I pay attention to my breathing more often while I’m driving, watching TV, reading or writing.
- I also experience a huge sense of gratitude and acceptance for everything the surrounds me, for the time I can spend meditating, for calmness and serenity, for my body that works so smoothly, for my breath, and for the fact that I can hear background noises.
- Most importantly, I’ve understood that meditation is not about not thinking at all. It is about training my mind to return to the present moment every time it wanders back to the past or into the future. It is about building the muscle that helps my mind return to the here and now and about self-control.
For me, meditation is a mental training that makes me more aware of myself and encourages me – even more – to appreciate every little thing in my life.
Have you ever tried meditation? How do you meditate?