We so often think meditation is this highly complex and esoteric practice, reserved only for the monks, gurus and advanced spiritual seekers among us. The truth is that mediation is a very simple practice with an ability to positively transform our lives in profound ways. Establishing a regular meditation practice that resonates with you is one of the smartest things you can do to ensure your health on all levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. You don’t have to sit for hours on end. Your personal practice can be quite simple; all you need is a bit of discipline, know-how and a positive intention. If you want to shift your state into that of a happier, healthier and all-around more peaceful person, then you’ll want to read on to receive a nice little introduction into what meditation is all about. (Read more in Meditation: How to Find the Starting Point.)
Meditation is at it's essence about sitting still, getting quiet and turning our focus inward. It’s about freeing ourselves from the many distractions of modern-day life. It’s about cultivating an inner stillness, that’s at the core of our being, by calming the thought patterns of our mind and being present with that peaceful space between each thought.
Discovering the Inner Self
A human life consists of different layers – not unlike those of an onion – in which we peel back to arrive at our true nature, our inner self, which is accessed through a regular meditation practice. There’s a vast world within each and every one of us, and many of us will never get to know that beautiful loving space because we won’t commit to a regular contemplative practice. But for those of us who do commit, the gifts are endless. (Learn more in 7 Steps to Taking Your Meditation Practice to the Next Level.)
In the layers of a human life, we have everything that happens outside of us – everything that buzzes around in our environment. We have our work, our relationships, the place in which we live and play, and the many dramas that are part and parcel of our lives. There’s the physical body in which we all inhabit, with it’s various ills and maladies, as well as great health and well-being. Our physical body is prone to different conditions, which go up and down and everywhere in between.
As we delve deeper, we peel back another layer where there resides the mental and emotional bodies. It’s here where we experience our thoughts and emotions and the many changing states of being that go with this layer. As we go deeper still and as we explore the layer that we access while sitting in quiet meditation, we tap into a place of unchanging peace, total calm and ease. Within this layer lies our true nature, our higher Self. Thanks to the meditation practice, we’re able to spend more time residing in this state of consciousness, where an immense world of internal power lies waiting for us.
Relaxing and Changing Our Reactions
Meditation allows for a calming of the mind, and a relaxing of the body and breath. Leaving all those outer layers let's us luxuriate in this peace each and every time we meditate. Leaving behind the distractions and dramas of the external world for, say, 10 to 20 minutes daily, actually changes the way we act in our lives during those times when we do encounter the dramas and challenges. The practice helps us get clear-headed, which allows for a life authentically lived.
When we get still, we connect to our hearts, where our true intelligence lies. It’s here where we tap into a profound wisdom, intuition and higher knowing. We get to see things from a more expansive perspective, coming up with more creative solutions to problems that used to leave us feeling stuck and stressed.
If we are to evolve as yogis, we need to meditate every day. It’s the perfect companion to any regular yoga and spiritual practice. It holds so many benefits that one would be foolish not to delve deep into the practice.
There’s no right or wrong way to meditate, so you don’t have to worry whether or not you’re doing it right. You just need to be devoted to your practice. Do it daily and see what happens. The effects will be many. The more you explore the wide world of meditation, the more you’ll understand that there are many styles and practices with which to experiment. Again, there’s not one way that’s better than another, but there is one (or a few) ways that will be right for you. (Learn more about this in Trusting the Practice of Meditation.)
Setting Your Intention
Just remember, your intention is always to go inward, to de-stress and to connect with the still space within. If you keep your practice near and dear to your heart for each and every day, you’ll find your life becomes richer, more joyful, peaceful and full of compassion. These are the boons of meditation, and they’re free for all of us to have.