When you think of what the word “meditation,” what comes to your mind? I found myself asking the same question when someone brought up the topic a few months ago. To be honest, I never really knew what it meant. I tried to define it and didn’t really come up with a coherent definition.
Once I learned what it meant, I wondered where it had been my whole life.
In recent weeks, I’ve started to meditate 1-2 times throughout the course of a week. There were many reasons why I decided to give meditation a try: I read up on the benefits, both physically and mentally, that it could have for me. I wanted to incorporate some quiet time into my schedule and I wanted to learn how to organize and control my thoughts better. For those reasons and more, I figured that I didn’t have anything to lose and everything to gain. Here’s what I’ve found so far.
Peace of mind
Since my first time meditating, I’ve found significant increases in how clear my thoughts were. With a schedule that consists of being a full-time student, working multiple jobs, and everything else in between, there wasn’t much time for me to collect my thoughts and refocus my mind. Meditating helped me build in a space of 10 or 15 minutes that is dedicated solely on taking my focus off of my everyday tasks.
Because of this, my mental awareness has been cleaned. I’ve had some time to really go into my own mind and figure out where things are, how I feel, and where I really want to go with them.
If you can’t find the quiet space to start meditating, check out the Rec Center’s group exercise classes. There are classes like Yoga that can prove to be a valuable asset on your journey.
Increase in personal drive
With the increase of mental awareness, my ability to motivate myself became easier. I noticed the things that I was doing currently and I asked myself, “why are you doing these things? What is the purpose?”
From then on, it became easier to stay motivated to accomplish the things that I was doing. I was reminded of the reason why I started doing them in the first place. My personal drive was more noticeable and present through everything that I was doing.
Meditation was an outlet for me to be able to take a step back and breathe. We often don’t get the chance to do things like that throughout our busy days. Our minds are elsewhere: the cold weather, the next time you’ll be able to sleep, playing IM sports later on, and so on. But once we are able to reflect on ourselves, we focus on our breathing and nothing else, which forces us to slow down a bit.
But meditation is hard.
Yes. It is. But once you learn it, there’s no going back. Honestly, the hardest thing that you have to learn how to do is how to focus on your own breathing. Our minds want to wander. Can you blame them? They’ve been conditioned to never stop going since they were very young.
The best way, in my opinion, to start meditating is with guided meditations. This means that you’ll listen to an audio clip of someone guiding you through your meditation session. S/he will tell you when to breathe, what to do with your body in the mean time, what to think about, and so on.
Don’t let its initial difficulty level stop you from learning meditation. Always remember: it’s not going to happen overnight. Almost nothing worth doing does happen overnight. Give it time and some energy.
Here’s a great site to enjoy (free) guided meditations: http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22
Oh, and here’s another great service: Headspace