by Ali Washington |
Meditation. If you are thinking of yourself or someone you know sitting on the floor with their legs crossed and their eyes closed right now, then you are like the majority of the western world who sees this picture when they think of meditation.
What Is Meditation?
While it is possible to be in a meditative state in this position – this is not necessarily ‘meditation.’ This is because true meditation is a state – a state of mind, body and spirit where you are calm, focused, aware, and connected with your true essence. For most, getting to this state of meditation is a bit of a journey. That is why there are so many different mediation techniques to choose from. Sitting on the floor with your eyes closed is only one.
There is also mantra meditation, chaotic breathing, focused attention and kundalini practices – just to name a few. So do not be discouraged if a seated meditation isn’t right for you. Try several different techniques until you find one that resonates with you. Then, practice daily. The benefits of working towards a state of meditation on a daily basis are far too numerous for me to fully explain here, but here are my top five reasons for practicing mediation that I hope will inspire you to take up a practice of your own.
Benefit Number 1: It Will Give You Better Body Awareness
Body awareness is key to good health. If you are not connected to your body – not aware of what is going on with it, not tuned into its subtle messages – then you are far more susceptible to illness and things going wrong. When you take the time each day to slow down and notice your body, you will start to become more aware of how your body feels after you eat certain foods, after you do certain activities, after you spend time with different people.
This awareness is absolutely invaluable to your long-term health and one of the first and most noticeable benefits of a daily meditation practice. Even just taking the time to slow down and notice the quality of your breathing will have profound effects on your health. Your body is constantly sending you valuable information – you just need to slow down long enough to hear what it is saying.
Benefit Number 2: It Will Improve Your Relationships
The practice of meditation will help you to become more connected with yourself – with how you are feeling, what you are thinking and how your life is affecting you. The more you take the time to slow down and tune into yourself, the more you are going to become aware of the roll you are playing in the relationships you have. There is a good chance that through a meditation practice you will start to notice the areas in your relationships where you are not taking full responsibility for yourself – where you are creating co-dependent tendencies. From this place of awareness you will be better able to feel what relationship habits you have that are not beneficial for you, and which ones are. This knowledge will empower you to make any changes needed, so that you can have more harmonious relationships with everyone you interact with.
Benefit Number 3: It Will Help You Communicate Better
All your new found self awareness will help you to more effectively communicate what you are thinking and feeling to those around you. The first reason for this is that you will be more aware yourself of what you are thinking and feeling – which is a crucial component in effective communication.
Secondly, you will most likely feel far less reactive because you will be taking more responsibility for yourself – and this again will improve your communication skills. The more you are aware of yourself, the more you are going to be able to help others become aware of what is going on with you. This will improve your communication skills with everyone from your partner, to your boss to the stranger who bumps into you on the street.
Benefit Number 4: It Will Sharpen Your Ability To Focus
Meditation is essentially a practice in focus. It is really the art of drawing your mind to the present moment and being with what is, right now. If that is not the definition of focus, then I don’t know what is! Meditation practices teach you how to be around distractions without getting pulled off course by them.
The longer you practice, the more you will notice your ability to keep your mind on the current task at hand, rather than watching your mind jump from what you are doing to what’s for dinner, to who is texting you, to what are you going to wear to work tomorrow and so on. This focus will dramatically improve your ability to function at work, to drive, to communicate – pretty much everything in your life can be improved with increased capacity for focus.
Benefit Number 5: It Will Encourage You To Love Yourself More
Finally, mediation is the fastest road I know to self-love. By setting aside time each day where you are going to sit and be with yourself, there is a good chance that all of your ‘stuff’ is going to come up. All of your insecurities, all of your doubts, all of your fears, everything that is sitting below the surface will rise to the top. Then, if you are able to continue your practice of sitting and being with yourself and all of your emotions, eventually you will break through.
You will begin to see yourself in a new light – in a true light. You will begin to see that you are not your issues, you are not your emotions, you are not your job – you will start to connect with your true essence. This is my most favorite part of the meditation path and practice. It always inevitably leads you back home to your heart of love and compassion. Do you meditate? What kind of meditation do you find most beneficial for you? I would love to hear what works for you!
by Ali Washington