I firmly believe that meditation is the #1 thing you can do to sustainably improve the quality of your life. I recognize that there is still an element of mystery or misunderstanding about this practice, so I am dedicated to empowering you with knowledge about its benefits so we can all work together to demystify this fundamental practice for our clients, family, and friends.
The nature of all your problems originates in the mind. Your thoughts shape your experience of the world. Meditation is the best thing you can do to harness the power of your thoughts, shift your consciousness and live with a sense of gratitude, self-confidence and personal fulfillment.
When you’re teaching this practice, one of the keys to inspiring motivation for yourself and your clients is focusing on the “WHY”. Continually pointing out the benefits will help you (and your students/clients) stay motivated.
Any time we take on a new skill, we need something that keeps us accountable and on track. When we understand the vast benefits of the practice, it helps maintain consistency. This is what gets us on the cushion every day even when it feels like the last thing we want to do. It’s tedious. There are days where it’s excruciating to get up 20 or 30 minutes earlier and make time.
When you feel that resistance or discouragement, the following are some key focus points to remember:
First and foremost, meditation helps us soften the grip of our thinking mind (doing) and drop into our feeling mind (being). It’s a shift from the linear, logical left-brain into our creative, sensual right-brain. This opens up a much more vast experience of life and helps us connect to the awe of our tangible, sensate experience of being alive. Living in the present helps us let go of difficult emotions of the past: resentment, depression, grief or guilt. It also loosens our anxiety, insecurity and stress about the future.
With mindfulness, we readily connect to the present. Focusing on what’s right in front of us becomes habit.
When we are here, now…we are free.
Unfortunately, our mind has a negativity bias. Neurologically, we are wired to predominantly remember negative experiences so we can avoid them in the future. It takes directed effort on our part to strengthen the positive, flexible parts of our minds that keep us honed in on the big picture.
In yoga, we call this act of clear perception and one-pointed focus – “viveka”.
It’s easy for us to be unconsciously driven by our harsh inner critic. This is the judgmental, negative voice in our mind that can completely dominate our thoughts. It is often an internalized voice that was installed via a real or perceived “critic” in our early childhood. Our inner critic sounds like:
Meditation is our chance to relate differently to our thoughts. By increasing awareness we develop the ability to identify the harsh inner critic, interrupt its message and choose a different path.
Consistency is key.
It’s better to practice every day for 5 – 10 minutes a day than 30 minutes once every two weeks. It’s the only way to really impact your relationship with your thoughts. Notice who’s really speaking in your mind.
Is this an uplifting, empowering voice? If not, you choose to disengage and flip your script.
When we experience difficult events in our lives, it’s common to slip into a mental downward spiral. If uninterrupted, our initial negative response continues to generate more and more thoughts to reinforce the first one and we can feel stuck as a result.
Meditation puts a pause in that descending path and pulls us back to our neutral ground. Developing this ability makes catching ourselves at earlier stages of depression and anxiety possible. We empower ourselves with awareness and choice to respond thoughtfully and realistically when faced with difficult emotions and events that inevitably will occur.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, a leading figure in the mindfulness movement and author of Full Catastrophe Living, defines mindfulness as “paying attention to the present moment, on purpose, with a nonjudgmental awareness.”
So moment by moment you are:
To truly be in a state of mindful awareness creates an incredible openness and peace in our being. It takes time to unfold fully, but meditation and learning to view yourself as a witness, rather than identifying with your thoughts, is a step-by-step way of reaching this spacious mindset. Like this, we can take our emotions and thoughts at face-value without feeding our energy into a stressful, reactionary, automatic response.
Depth Psychology teaches that the most important take-away from our experiences is the meaning we choose to give to them. We can train ourselves and our students to focus less on the melodrama of the story (or the “content”: the who, what, why), and instead, focus on the key lessons to incorporate moving forward.
Learn to ask different questions. Instead of “Why me?” ask:
How is this situation calling me to “level up” into an even greater level of awareness and empowerment?
When seeking meaningfulness, consider the yogic concept of “ahamkara”, the individual ego-aspect (or “I-maker”) of the mind. This inner force is constantly trying to make meaning of our experiences through the lens of the individual self. With this approach to life, our view becomes inherently narcissistic. We become the center of our Universe, disconnected from the wider perspective of others.
Your ahamkara is only concerned with:
Meditation helps flip our perspective to a more neutral, universal, inclusive view. We catch ourselves when we start building a story around the events and interactions in our lives, step back, and see things from another’s perspective. Creating space and openness in the way we interpret events liberates us from the pressure of personally identifying with and over-emphasizing factors we cannot control.
There is extensive and impressive research that’s been done neurologically to demonstrate the benefits of meditation for our brains. Here are a few key benefits:
I want to hear from you:
Notice the changes you experience personally through your mindfulness practices and leave your comments below to share your story. What is the greatest struggle you’ve had so far? The greatest benefit you’ve noticed?
Your life is your curriculum.