When someone mentions meditation, what comes to mind? I’ll tell you what came to mind for me: a cross-legged, shaved head, maroon-robe-wearing, humming waste of time. You know, like the Tibetan monks that don’t speak and seem to have nothing while “having everything.” The whole concept of meditation sounded crazy to me. How in the world, with all of the things I needed to accomplish each week, was I supposed to find some quiet time to sit around humming with my eyes closed? I didn’t understand what meditation meant or the reasons behind doing it. I simply thought it was a thing that hippies and monks did to pass time and speak about obscure topics that make no sense to those of us that lack “enlightenment.”
From Reluctant to Revelation
I quickly realized my perception was a societal impression that was completely uneducated and stereotyped. (Certainly, I must be the very first to carry around partial truths that I hold up and adopt as my “absolutes.”) Then, a revelation was created during a trip to the ever so spiritual West Coast. My wife and I rented an AIRBNB in Venice Beach with a few of our friends. As luck would have it, one friend had gotten heavily into meditation and even tracked his progress on a digital device called Muse. Suddenly meditation was no longer a “woo-woo” type of experience and was brought into the modern day of tracking and accountability.
I couldn’t stay in the dark any longer but wasn’t completely sold on where to start. Certainly, a device that tracks and monitors your brain’s activity is appealing. Coupled with the confidence of knowing that my close friend had taken up the “practice” starting a meditation practice seemed more tempting, but I was still not sold. The more I read about meditation and people finding their inner Zen, the more overwhelmed I felt. What do I do? How do I sit? Where do I practice? It can’t all be nonsense, right? I realized that the overwhelming feeling was exactly why meditation could be beneficial. Let me explain.
Changing Thought Patterns
Lately, there seems to be a steadier stream of information on meditation and how the brain works. With more people speaking out about anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses, meditation has almost become a hot topic. See, your brain is amazing and is capable of this cool thing called neuroplasticity. That means your brain has the ability to make new connections and change thought patterns. While we are unable to always control what thoughts pop into our brain, we can choose what we do with them and how we react to them. The more we practice meditation, observe our thoughts, and accept them, the more we learn to move our attention away from the thoughts that don’t serve us. Ultimately, this allows us to slow our mind, connect with our inner-self and our inner-voice, and become more mindful.
There is no right or wrong way to meditate. It’s an exercise. Given my storied background in bodybuilding and my love for fitness, I am educated about exercise. So, I approached meditation the same way. It was going to take practice. I didn’t walk into the gym on my first day and squat 400lbs or run 6 miles. I had to condition my body to be able to do that. Meditation is no different and I wasn’t going to master it on the first try. I simply started practicing meditation for around 3-5 minutes daily. Like anything else in life, consistency matters. Those 3-5 minutes quickly turned into 10-20 and practicing daily had a compound effect that had me understand the true benefits of the practice.
Being Mindful of What You Consume
Think about how the mind works and how things around you influence your mood, thoughts, or behavior. What you consume is important. It’s not just about what you eat. It’s about what you watch, what you read, what you listen to, and the people you spend your time with. Why not consume things that will propel you forward? Choose to consume things that will feed your mind and your soul with greatness. Be mindful of the things you consume, as they have an impact on the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of your body.
I truly believe that every day we have one mission; to expand and be grateful. Meditation allows us to clear the mental chatter and settle the mind. It promotes self-awareness, lengthens attention span and reduces stress. It’s a secret weapon that allows us to choose how thoughts serve us and our reactions to them. Realizing we are in the driver’s seat and consciously taking actions to BE the driver of our own life, is where the expansion comes in. That realization is powerful and impactful. Do yourself a favor and embrace the woo-woo.