Updated: Feb 12, 2019
In an age of endless information, every self help guru will give you his or hers take on how to live a happy and fulfilling life, but if there is one thing that unifies all these men of knowledge in their words, it’s the the practice of meditation.
Meditation is slowly seeping into the public consciousness of the western world and is being acknowledged as one of the most important disciplines to master in life.
"An unexamined life is a life not worth living" - Aristotle
Personally, meditation has changed my life completely.
After discovering meditation for the first time, and with it the ability to look inside myself and witness myself as I truly am in the moment - a transformation initiated that eventually turned me into a better athlete, and more importantly - A better person.
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Meditation is the cornerstone to a healthy, conscious lifestyle, and my personal experience has taught that it is in fact the "glue" that binds absolutely every discipline in life together.
I would love to get into my life story, but that is not the header of this article. So, without further adieu, I would like to lay out for you the three main reasons to why I believe everyone should meditate regularly, and conclude with a small tip on how to start practicing.
Reason One - Connection To Self
Imagine there a person who you are stuck with for ever waking moment for the rest of your life.
I don't mean like in a marriage, i mean literally for every single moment of your life. This person is with you when you go to the bathroom, they are there when you wake up and go to bed, this person is the first person you tell all your fears, accomplishments, failures, desires, passions and the like to, they are even with you when you dream. They are always there, and you cannot not be with this person. Quite scary, I know.
I would say, if that situation, god forbid, was put upon you, the most productive way to handle it and make the absolute best out of it would be to broaden and deepen the connection you have with this person.
I would say you should get to know him or her intimately and meaningfully, so you can have a healthy relationship with them, a flourishing connection in which both of us abstain from unnecessary arguments and judgments and work together in order to maximally enrich your already determined joint time.
I would say taking another route of action will only make both your lives not all too pleasant.
Now imagine this person other person is none other than you, yourself.
We are always stuck with ourselves, there is no escape from it, And we have this dualistic nature to our identity: We do something, and then we analyze it. We make a choice and judge ourselves for it later. We want to wake up in the morning but we want to snooze for an extra 5 minutes.
We are our own storytellers, critics and mentors. This is a never ending cycle, and we are always there for and against ourselves, in every moment, no matter what.
Taking time from our daily routine to check in with ourselves, to understand the nature of the relationship we have with ourselves and to thicken and strengthen the bond we have with ourselves is something incredibly important, especially if you want to lead a life in which you are not suffering constant criticism, lack of empathy and alienation.
Meditation is the "Bonding time" between you and... well, you.
It's a time where you get to truly know yourself and your true core.
Once you know yourself better, you can take care of yourself better, perceive the thoughts and sensations that occur in your mind with understanding and actually knowing how to contain and live alongside them in harmony.
In short - it's good for you to know you.
And the more you practice, the better you get, which leads me to the second reason.
Reason Two - Develop Greater Proficiency
Let's say for a moment you want to get good at something. Anything. It could be mastering specific sport, a musical instrument or even to kick ass at cooking.
In the process of improving , we use many self-supervision techniques such as evaluation, comparison, practice, observation, etc.
We use these techniques and many more so we can pick up on the error that keeps us from getting it perfect , learn to correct it and strive to repeat it less and less. This is also known as "learning".
For instance, Johnny wants to be a able to juggle.
He will start practicing, paying attention to his hands. Not too much time passes before Johnny will realizes there is a bit more to juggling than just paying attention to his hands.
He will then evaluate the situation, and realize he needs to pay attention to his hands, as well as the balls.
This process of picking up on the error and correcting it will happen over and over again as johnny continues his journey towards being a pro juggler. He will continue Noticing more and more errors and correct them, being aware to more and more factors, such as his posture, his form, or even his feet, until finally the errors get fewer and smaller, and Johnny can juggle like a true master. But there is catch.
The smaller and finer the errors, the harder it is to pick up on them. So how do we make sure we keep the "Error indicator" of ours sharp? Enter meditation.
Mindfulness is basically the quality by which we notice things we do.
When you are being mindful to something you do, you are actually dedicating more of you total awareness to that action.
It's like when you were 16, and snuck in to your house at night, hoping your parents won't wake up - you were being mindful of your steps, meaning you were devoting more of your total awareness to the act of walking, thereby processing more information about that action, making sure you are getting it right and reducing the chance of making any noise.
By doing that, you were basically increasing your chances of success, and if you persisted with sneaking in for an extended period of time, you would eventually get better at it.
When we practice mindfulness, our ability to notice things get better, and with that our ability to delve deeper into something, processing and analyzing it in a way more thorough level.
Once your ability to notice is in fact better, you can become more aware to everything you practice as it is being practiced more efficiently, and actively "supervise" yourself. And since you know yourself better than anyone, you can be your own coach in the best way.
In fact, many pro-athletes like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant now incorporate meditation in their daily routine, saying it helps them see the game in a clearer and calmer way, as well as seeing their training sessions in a different light.
The difference is in the finer detail.
Reason Three - Have Better Relationships
In the first section I explained how meditation can improve your internal relationship with yourself.
In the same way, it can also contribute immensely to the relationship you have with factors external to yourself - that being, among other things, other humans.
If you look closely at any issue you had with another person, using the most objective form of looking possible, you will come to the conclusion that it takes two to tango.
It doesn't take a psychology degree to know that for two people to come to bad terms, both of them have at least contributed some oil to the fire.
In the first section of this article, I also suggested meditation as a tool to develop a greater understanding of yourself.
It is exactly through this understanding of yourself that you can improve relationships with other people.
When you feel you have been wronged by someone for whatever reason, the automatic response would be to amend this hurt, to compensate for it. The compensation occurs in several ways: You either express you have been hurt and demand a reprehension, you remove yourself completely from the situation, or you suck the pain in while convincing yourself it's not worth fighting over.
Question: Think of the last time your were hurt by someone. Could be anyone.
Did you stop yourself in the middle of being hurt, and asked why you are hurt right now? Think closely.
I don't mean if you asked yourself LATER, when you were analyzing the situation by yourself, and after telling yourself a good story of how you were hurt in the same matter as a child, reached the conclusion it's OK to be hurt and that you had the right to feel this way.
I mean right there, on the spot, in the midst of this raging storm of emotion, with all the commotion that was going on within you - did you stop and ask yourself that?
If you did - you must have been meditating for a while now, since meditation practice gives you the ability to do just that - stop.
The more you practice meditation the more you are in touch with your body and its feelings, as well as the physical expression of emotion in your body, meaning you can pick up on certain emotions by the way they feel within your body. And you will be able to do it more often and more efficiently the more you practice.
This gives you the ability to say "wait a second, I feel anger right now" the second someone angers you, and become much more aware of yourself and your behavior in that moment.
You cannot control the behavior of others, but you can control your reaction to their behavior.
You can understand you are hurt right now, and predict you are about to think a bit irrationally in the next few minutes.
This changes the very action taken in the moment.
If you are angry and about to snap at someone, picking up on the fact you are about to snap before it is happening will surely change your reaction to the situation, and will at the very least keep you from snapping.
Sure, sometimes the other person deserves to be snapped on, but ask yourself - do you want to be that kind of person who snaps at people, or the kind of person who reacts calmly and intelligently to difficult and challenging situations?
The more you react like the latter, the better people will perceive you and the more they will think of you as a rational person who carries him/herself around in a respectful way.
True change starts from within.
Conclusion, and a Small Tip
I bet that if you haven't been meditating so far, after reading this you are quite anxious to begin,
So to wrap it up I would like to leave you with the best tip I can think of to how to start meditating.
And that tip is..... Start small.
Meditation is work. It's not that you start meditating and a week later you're Gandi.
That means that in order to get good, you need repetitions. Just like a workout. That means you need to create a habit of doing it.
So start with any amount of time you are positive you can manage, and do it every day, for at least 40 days.
I would recommend to begin with 10 minutes each day, in the morning as a start.
But less also works if you feel like 10 is too much, and the time a day to do it is also flexible.
And don't worry about "getting it right", just make sure you start and persist.
Even one minute of meditation a day is significantly more useful than none. Remember: every journey starts with a single step.
Take it and never look back.