I first came across meditation when I visited Singapore in 2013. I was not particularly up to date on all the well-being techniques and suggestions, so it was a new and exciting thing I’d never heard of. I’d also never been exposed to Buddhism as a religion, as this was my first trip to Asia, and while there, I visited some temples, saw monks praying and found Buddhism fascinating, even if I didn’t fully comprehended it.
While waiting for my flight to head back home, I stopped by the bookshop at the airport and picked up a book called Buddha Walks into a Bar, by Lodro Rinzler. This book is unconventional to say the least. It’s not spiritual or religious, but it tackles the basics for those who simply want more information on the practice itself. This was the moment when I first started experimenting with meditation.
“If you have time to breathe, you have time to meditate. You breathe when you walk. You breathe when you stand. You breathe when you lie down.” – Ajahn Amaro
Meditation, noun – the practice of focusing one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.
I’m no expert on meditation, nor will I ever pretend to be. But I’ve reaped the benefits and I like to encourage others to at least try it. It might not be for you, or you might want to try another style. For an extremely comprehensive list of meditation types, you can check out this article.
How I do it:
- I put aside some time before work in the morning
- I prefer to sit on the ground on a pillow, rather than a chair or my bed (where I might actually fall asleep)
- I set a timer on my phone for 15 minutes, put it on silent and turn it face down
- I close my eyes, so I can better focus on my breath
- I just breath in and out, focusing on the sensation of air filling up and leaving my lungs through my nose
- I try to picture a white or black wall in front of my eyes, even though my brain is on overdrive
- I open my eyes when the timer goes off, stretch and then go about my day
What works for me may not work for you. If you’re not sure on where to start, try a guided mediation, you can find plenty of videos on YouTube that will guide you through the process. Find one whose voice you enjoy and settle in for some peacefulness.
Meditation is not something you can really benefit from in the short-term. While you generally feel calmer and more relaxed right after meditating, life will start tackling you as soon as you go about your normal routine. You’ll get angry and maybe swear a little at that dude in traffic that cut you off.
But over time, even with as little as 15 minutes per day (approximately 1% of a day), I’ve began to notice some changes.
I’m overall calmer. Loads of thoughts run through my brain during meditation, but it’s a space where I’ve permitted myself to notice and acknowledge the thought, and decide in that moment if I should follow-up on it, or realize how pointless it is, and banish it from my brain. We as humans are not used to simply observing and not reacting. I’ve developed an awareness of my instant reactions and better emotional control over them. I’m now a more chill person in situations where before I would have erupted like a volcano.
My blood pressure has gone down. While I can also attribute this to exercising more in the past few months, I’d like to think meditation has had an effect on this as well.
I got better at problem solving. I feel it’s easier now for me to think more logically because I’ve found a better way to process my thoughts from beginning to the end. I don’t immediately jump up from my chair when a problem arises and run around like a headless chicken. I take an extra few minutes to think through a solution, because I’ve grown accustomed to not being as reactive as before.
I find it funny that I’ve changed my life quite a bit just by sitting quietly and breathing in and out for a few minutes every day. Many people, when asked how meditation has helped them, simply reply with “I just feel better…”. We don’t really know why, but somehow, it works.
Do you have to meditate? No. Will you feel better after meditating? Yes. My personal opinion is you should try it daily for a week; it’s a short enough time for you to stick to it and long enough to realize whether it’s for you or not. You breathe every second of the day anyway, why not give it another purpose?
Have a eudemonic week!
Photo by Aperture Vintage.