So You Wanna Meditate?

There are tons of videos, books, and gurus that can teach you how to meditate.  I am not going to write a step by step guide on meditation, but I thought some tips might be helpful.  Modern psychology incorporates the Buddhist practices of mindfulness and meditation to reduce anxiety and depression.  Ironically, my psychologist seemed surprised when I told her that my wellness is more dependent on spirituality than medication; meditation is my primary medication.  My journey started in mental health and spiraled out.

images (19).jpgI’m not a doctor or psychologist so I can’t talk to you about meds, CBT, DBT,  ACT, except to share my experiences.  From my experience, making meditation a consistent part of my life and mindset has resulted in dramatic changes in every aspect of my life.  I remember thinking there is no way I can ever make my mind be quiet.  I could never sit down like that for that long.  How would this actually even help me?

There are so many misconceptions about meditation, and that’s what I wanted to focus on, because the benefits of meditation – particularly with a mental illness – cannot be emphasized enough.  Meditation allows you to control your mind by simply becoming the observer of your mind.  Meditation can teach you to allow your thoughts to come and go, versus creating a reaction or emotional response.

  1. You don’t have to quiet, calm, or still your mind.  It is a commonly held belief that in order to actually be meditating, you cannot have thoughts.
  2. Thoughts will come and go, it is natural.  If you think of your mind as the ocean, thoughts are waves.  Meditation teaches you how to float in the waves, instead of fighting them or trying to control something you cannot control.  The waves will always come.
  3. No one’s experience in meditation will be your experience in meditation.  It is a personal journey.  The expectation of meditation, I think, makes it harder to meditate.
  4. My favorite: If you are trying to meditate, you are not meditating.  What this means is: meditation is doing nothing.  It’s not thinking nothing, it’s not controlling yourself, or even your breath.  Meditation is the time to let go, be quiet, and let your inner self come to the surface.  There are so many people who will tell you how to think, chant, or even sit.  Your best teacher will always be yourself, and that’s who you can listen to and trust.
  5. Guided meditations are helpful for achieving different states, but remember – meditation is best achieved in comfort.  In any meditation, the key is to accept where you are, accept the thoughts that arise, and be peaceful and content in “everything is as it should be”

The best description I read was that meditation will help you see your thoughts as cloudsd7b3411b304c1d7576241cc8947c7550 in the sky.  It will help you learn that not every cloud must be thoroughly dissected, described, and labelled.  It helps you to pay more attention to the blue sky behind the clouds, and as you focus on the sky, less clouds will come to pass.  For managing my anxiety and depression, meditation helps me disassociate myself from my mind. I now look at my mind as a computer, instead of fearing it.  For me, meditation doesn’t clear my mind, but it does put me back in control.

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