A lot of people have odd misconceptions about meditation. That it’s only for Buddhists or hippies. That it requires hours of sitting in a goofy pose. Or that your goal is to reach nirvana and a god with eight arms.
It ain’t like that.
First, there are different types of meditation. Yes, there is Buddhist meditation and monks who will sit for hours on end seeking higher levels of consciousness.
Prayer is also a form of meditation.
Here’s the gist of mindful meditation:
I’m not trying to transcend what’s in my brain. Mindfulness is actually the opposite – I’m trying to be hyper aware of what my brain is thinking in each situation.
It trains focus. Which is hard to earn these days, with your phone screaming at you all the time. And TV. And work. And kids. And on and on.
Each of those is more than worthy of my focus. Mindfulness helps me be aware of where I am at each moment, and what’s best for me to have my brain fixated on.
It’s being used by entrepreneurs, therapists – they’re even using it in schools to teach kids how to deal with anxiety and stress. What middle schooler wouldn’t benefit from learning how to be quiet and calm for a few minutes?
There are pills to handle these things, but I believe the answers to many issues are just sitting in our own brains. It just takes some practice to draw out clear thinking.
Headspace has a video that changed my thinking on meditation.
Our emotions and thoughts are like cars flying down a highway, and we’re in the middle of traffic trying to stop some cars and chasing others. We exhaust ourselves in the process, or ride in cars that aren’t great for us to be in.
Mindfulness is being able to sit on the side of the road and be aware of each car as it passes.
When I mediate, my brain wonders to the same odd places it does every day. “I really like breakfast burritos,” it says. Or, “Do you think James Harden’s beard smells?”
Just instead of running with those thoughts, or trying to stop them, I just acknowledge them and watch them pass.
Most of the time.
I’ve spent entire ten minute sessions thinking about burritos.
It’s a work in progress. But it’s a good practice.