The power of meditation, its benefits and why you should try it
The modern education system concentrates on amping the IQ but rarely guides us to hone softer skills like coping with loss, overcoming challenges, and preparing for the real world. Is it any wonder that cases of mental illnesses are on the rise among people of all ages?
Yoga gurus, and now even mainstream doctors, have been expounding the benefits of meditation to lead more meaningful and satisfying lives.
In the age of digital screens and hurried lives lived in between, disconnecting and exploring the inner world seems esoteric.
There's no right age to be a meditator. A few minutes of solitude every day, where we concentrate on the moment through breathwork or chanting a mantra, helps us to build our emotional and adversity quotient.
What exactly is meditation?
For the longest time, I thought meditation meant draining the mind of all thoughts. I would close my eyes and make futile attempts to quieten my mind. Yet, the more I tried, the more my thoughts ran amok. I explored various schools of thought, video talks, and books to learn about this alleged magic pill that promised eternal happiness. In the course, I discovered Yoga. I began my journey towards mindfulness.
As I explored breathwork and consciousness during Yoga practices, I was surprised to learn there's no need to empty the mind. Meditation is not about attaining a thoughtless state of mind but about becoming aware that the mind is straying and then pulling it back to the current moment. Meditation means being present in the now. It is no magic pill but rather an exercise for the mind.
How to start with meditation?
Various App offer guided practices for anyone who wishes to embark on this journey. Isha Kriya and Insight Timer are two such Apps that have helped me. You don't require any prior experience with Yoga or meditation to use these. While Isha Kriya is an offering from Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev of the Isha Foundation, Insight Timer offers guided meditations from various teachers across the globe. Apart from general well-being, it has practices targeting specific conditions such as anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
Guided meditation helped me to focus on the practice. Shutting out the inner chatter was tough initially, but eventually, I settled into breathing with ease and paying attention to the instructions.
What are the benefits?
In the Hindu culture, this practice is sacred. When done right, it can be the gateway to realizing the higher consciousness or the atman. Even if we may not have a spiritual calling yet, meditation provides many tangible benefits that can aid and ease our lives in the material world.
As with any new habit, consistency and perseverance is the key. Focusing our senses inward requires dedication, commitment, and patience because the effects will be slow but sure to manifest.
One of the earliest changes I observed was my ability to recollect things from memory. It was subtle, but I noticed I could remember faces and names better than before. Many other practitioners have confirmed that the brain indeed becomes sharper.
While you don't become an oasis of serenity overnight, you can manage stress and anxiety more efficiently. The trigger points might remain constant. Yet, you will see that you are aware of them and can choose to change your responses. With time, you can distance yourself from the incident and develop an observer's perspective (to make objective decisions and not get emotionally carried away), even if that's not the case when you're in the thick of the event.
All of us have quirky habits and behaviour. With age, these tend to get exacerbated. Meditation helps to restrain such compulsive habits. You get into the practice of pausing before reacting, making it possible to regulate any impulsive acts.
A few minutes of meditation before going to bed can improve sleep quality. It is a boon for people who struggle with insomnia and disturbed sleep patterns.
Are you a meditator or curious to explore the practice? Let us know about your experiences.
A society that cares for its senior citizens is a civilized and enlightened society. The aging happens on its own without any prompting from our side! It is an issue of mind over matter…if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter!
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