I've been incorporating meditation into my life for about two years now. While it has been the greatest gift I could ever have given to myself, I often find myself tongue-tied when asked about my practice. I can't seem to find the right words to describe this life changing, soul saving, sanity balancing practice.
Uh huh, it's that good!
So you know what they say when you can't find the words, steal some from someone else?
In this case, the scientist and best-selling author, Jon Kabat-Zinn:
"When we speak of meditation, it is important for you to know that this is not some weird cryptic activity, as our popular culture might have it. It does not involve becoming some kind of zombie, vegetable, self absorbed narcissist, navel gazer, "space cadet," cultist, devotee, mystic, or Easter philosopher. Meditation is simply about being yourself and knowing something about who that is. It is about coming to realize that you are on a path whether you like it or not, namely, the path that is your life. Meditation may help us see that this path we call our life has direction; that it is always unfolding, moment by moment; and that what happens now, in this moment, influences what happens next."
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are
What a near perfect description of the true essence of meditation from the master himself!
Meditation is a practice for observing your thoughts and for being more mindful of them throughout the day. You don't need to schedule meditation into your planner; you can practice mindfulness in short intervals throughout your entire day.
You can get there! Leave yourself reminders to practice. That's all it takes. When you first start, your mind will be very busy and distracted. It might seem even busier than usual, and this is because when we tune in, we begin to notice just how distracted and scattered our thoughts really are.
We can begin to follow these thoughts and see how they are manifesting into fears, anxieties, stresses, fixations and obsessions. The first step is just to watch. Watch how the thoughts flow continuously, like a river gaining speed and power, rolling right over everything in its path.
In time, we can begin to guide these thoughts in a different direction. They will still flow, but hopefully in a direction of happiness, love, patience, acceptance and kindness.
Don't be discouraged when you first start, there will always be days when the monkey mind won't rest for even a mere moment. But mediation is not to be perfected and even during these difficult days, we are still exercising our brain.
You'll have good and bad days, but every now and then I guarantee you'll find a peaceful calm and settle on a wave somewhere between ragged thoughts and sinking consciousness, and this is where the magic will happen, you'll sigh as your muscles relax into the floor – finally, this is what everyone is talking about.
Bring a slight effort to your mindfulness, but then relax into it. Don't dwell or fixate on how bad or maybe even how good you are at meditation, just let it be what it is.
Let go of distractions with external forces and just be present with what actually is, this is our natural state of being.
I would describe meditation as a sense of coming home after a long trip. You realize that you've lost touch and didn't even realize it. Wouldn't it be nice to just stop worrying and let things be, even if just for a few minutes a day? This is an invaluable gift and you can't put a price tag on all the benefits you can reap from this beautiful practice.