Have you wondered why time goes by faster and faster, the older you get? Or why you’ve got more than enough on your to do list yet you feel so unproductive? Every day, we work towards our goals in life, whether that is our education, our career, or our personal life. In the midst of all this, we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves, and our mental health. We forget to just sit down and take note of our surroundings. By failing to do so we tend to do more harm than good because we’re constantly rushing to get somewhere or get something done and that gets in the way of actually being able to see what we already have in life. Previously, I wrote an article about being more aware and mindful in our day to day lives. In this article, I want to discuss a simple practice that has existed for thousands of years and has also gotten a lot of attention recently: Meditation.
Meditation is the practice of being mindful or focusing on a specific thought or object in order to be more aware of the present (Kabat-Zinn, 2004). When we first hear the word, a lot of our minds may go straight to religion, and while several different religions may incorporate the practice, meditation does not have to do all that much with religion. It is usually considered a more spiritual practice, and if you aren’t into that sort of stuff, it can just be a way for you to cope with the stressful situations that you face.
When we take on a new task, we usually do it with the purpose of seeing fruition of our efforts; we hope for a desirable outcome that is beneficial to us in some way (even if the result is simply feeling good). We don’t even look at meditation any differently. People want to meditate in order to achieve something, whether that is to be in a happier, easier state of mind, to be “enlightened”, or maybe to change old behavioural patterns. Although these are some of the good motives to meditate, we shouldn’t make this the sole reason of practicing meditation. By doing so, we are defeating the whole purpose of the practice itself. Meditation should be practiced in order to let go of the feeling of wanting control over your past or future; it should be about “being’, not “doing”. And if we don’t see results or progress within a specific amount of time, we may end up feeling like we aren’t “doing it right”.
I haven’t been practicing meditation for very long, I am still pretty new to this; but one of the main reasons I want to practice it more is to let go of the unhealthy amount of control that I feel I need. Somedays, I live in a constant state of worry about my future, and some days I end up victimising myself unintentionally due to my past. And although I’ve been aware of this for some time, I never really knew how to break my old thought patterns self-destructive thoughts. However, I have realised that healing takes time, and taking baby steps may seem pointless but they eventually lead to your right path. Meditation was something I found immensely helpful for this.
If a person dies, whatever responsibilities he or she left behind, somehow will be sorted out without them. Similarly, “dying” for a few minutes a day in order for you to just take a breather won’t suddenly increase all your problems. Now, I’m not telling you to run away from your problems by saying this. What I am trying to say is that that phone call, or assignment, or movie can wait a few minutes while you meditate so that you can gain a perspective on your worries and maybe even be guided to solutions for those worries. One thing I hope you take away from this is to be more mindful through meditation, because accepting the “now” is the only way you’ll understand your current situation, and finally move forward from here.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2004). Wherever you go, there you are. London: Piatkus.