When I started a dedicated meditation practice, the question that came before this undertaking was why do this? Why meditate? What benefits am I going to see in my life if I do this?
In earlier posts, I’ve talked about how my meditation practice sprouted from some of life’s hardships that I was dealing with, and how I did not fall in love with this new daily habit for six months. The question beckons then, why do this? Why meditate?
There is a fair amount of research to show that meditation is good for us. We can improve our focus even outside of meditating, sleep better, relax our bodies and minds and support our mental health.At the start of my practice, these were the reasons to do this, to make this conscious commitment to improving these areas in my life. After all, they do sound pretty good. I can attest to that from my personal experience, they are all true. I have brought all of these benefits into my life.
The benefits of a guided meditation
Before I met Mandy and started her True Rest guided meditations, I was using some techniques and knowledge that I had learnt before to meditate. It did make the process somewhat lonely. When I started going to Mandy’s classes I learnt several things that helped me to carry on with my practice. The best thing is that I got to be comfortable in meditation. I could lie down and even use a pillow and blanket. If my body is uncomfortable, my mind is going to latch onto that which makes meditating very difficult. I also felt supported by her guidance, I could fall back on her words if I felt uncomfortable or was losing my focus. I could re-focus on her words and re-engage in my practice. Of course what she is saying is equally important, as it could encourage me and relaxes me with her soothing voice.
Once I got started and have continued regularly now for over 8 years, these are the reasons and benefits and why I continue to meditate.
The benefits of meditation
First up, I sleep well, very well. This wasn’t the case before I undertook my dedicated practice. By relaxing my body and thinking mind, I can drift off to sleep until morning. In return, that makes for a better state of mind and body each waking day.
Next up, my thinking mind can shift gears and go down. There is something so relaxing in that process. It feels as if my mind is exhaling. There are times when my mind needs to think of several things and make good or quick decisions and that’s fine. Then there are other times in the day when my mind is thinking of multiple issues as if they are all so very important, when in fact, they aren’t. Meditation has taught me to recognize when this is happening and to mentally step back (feel that exhale) and focus and think about the one thing that I’m actually dealing with at the moment. Other moments will be used to deal with other issues – just not all right now.
Which leads to the next benefit I discovered from meditation, learning to focus. I learnt to focus just on my breath, better yet – the inhale and then the exhale, or on really listening to the guided meditation or on focusing on just the body sensing. My mind was not helpful while I was learning these lessons (as I wrote about in Focusing My Mind). My thoughts kept interrupting me over and over but by disciplining my focus on the guidance in the True Rest meditation, I was able to improve my focus in general. This improved focus has helped me to narro my focus to doing one task at a time. When I’m listening to a friend, loved one or store clerk, I’m listening. The same applies to when I’m writing, working or talking. I don’t feel so scattered during the day this way, and I believe I do a better job at what I’m doing compared to when I’m thinking about all the things I did and should be doing whilst taking on a task. It really does feel like an exhale of the mind.
The benefit that comes with a sharper focus and taking on what’s going on in that moment is a clarity of the thinking mind. When I take on too much all at once and try to organize it all in my head, it can feel foggy and unclear. Now I can recognize this is going on and release the chatter and fog. Regaining the clarity, again, I feel my brain relax and like its exhaled.
Perhaps, the biggest benefit I’ve received from a daily meditation practice, is that I got to know myself. I mean really saw myself with the bruised emotions, the not-so-nice characteristics along with the tender heart, joyful positive outlook and profound connection to the Divine space within me. Finding that stillness within me. I look at this part of the process as getting comfortable with myself – being in the silence with myself and feeling relaxed and safe. This benefit from my meditation practice cannot be measured and put into research. Yet, it’s the most real and sincere sense of self.
I continue with my daily practice, whatever that day permits, 5, 10 maybe 20 minutes of meditation. There are the reasons I undertook this commitment and those benefits blossomed into the reasons that I stay and continue.