As a human we experience thousands of thoughts a day. We hold on to the ones that evoke an emotional response, happiness, sadness, loneliness, despair, shock and so on. From the thoughts we have held on to, we start to create a personalized connection with the idea, “why did I have that thought?” or “this is truly what I want” or “I can’t wait for this to happen”. This habitual response to thoughts has been a roadblock to combating mental health and ultimately living more content and fulfilling lives. Imagine an Internet webpage that is receiving thousands of pop-ups a day. Some are about finding love, winning the millions, luxury vacations others are viruses, pornography and scams. What do we do? We close the pop-ups, we install pop-up blockers, and we continue on to use the webpage. If we use this analogy for our mind we can see a similar pattern, our mind is the webpage and our thoughts are akin to pop-ups some are fantasies others are nightmares. If we just allow the pop-ups to be pop-ups nothing more, we can develop a pop-up blocker within our very own consciousness to sever the response towards these ideas.
I know it sounds odd why wouldn’t we want to enjoy our fantasies of winning millions or falling in love? The reason is the flip side of this is much more harmful when we allow ourselves to fall into these ideas. Fantasizing about love actually leads to feeling alone, fantasizing about money actually leads to amplifying the lack of money you currently have. All these “wishes” highlight the “lack of” in the present. This leads to us feeling more inadequate, and less fulfilled. I am not proposing that we don’t want to better ourselves, or achieve things, or that we should just accept our circumstance. I am merely suggesting that not being able to feel content within our current situation will lead to not being content when our wish list is achieved either. Because this isn’t a mechanism that can be fixed by the external, it is an internal habitual behavioral pattern that we have to recalibrate. So, when we are trying to accomplish things or better ourselves it is not coming from a place of lack of, or it is not coming from a place of inadequacy. It is coming from a genuine place of ambition and inspiration. Meditation taught me how to use the practice as a tool to recalibrate my distorted thought patterns.
How meditation works:
There is not a one size fits all when it comes to meditation, there are many different approaches. I will share what I find most effective in my practice:
I like to meditate first thing in the morning, I find this helps start off the day refreshed and positive. I like to find a quiet spot in my house, or even just sitting on my bed. When I first started I did 5-10 minutes every morning, it was difficult for me to get into meditation because I was self conscious about if I was doing it right. I even felt a lot of anxiety at the beginning, because I was forcing myself to sit with my thoughts. The very thoughts that drove me crazy. Anytime I found myself getting too anxious I would take a break, breathe and try again. Overtime it got easier and more natural, and eventually a beautiful thing happens. I started to observe my thoughts and did not allow myself to be consumed by them anymore. I tried my best to not identify with the noise and overtime I learned the powerful tool of mindfulness.
It is not just the act of sitting silently in a specific position that matters with mediation it is the act of being mindful of your thoughts that can ultimately loosen the grip anxiety has on us.
Meditation takes time and practice, at the beginning I really challenged myself to meditate by making it apart of my routine. I had a calendar beside my bed that after each day of meditating I would cross off the date. Eventually, after seeing my commitment the momentum kept pushing me to keep at it.
Here are some great tools that can help in the meditation practice: