Updated: 5 days ago
In an age of endless information, every self-help guru will give you his or her 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 examine my thoughts - a transformation initiated that eventually turned me into a better athlete, and more importantly - A better person.
Meditation is the cornerstone to a healthy, conscious lifestyle, and in my personal experience it is the "glue" binding 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 today.
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 mean literally for every single moment.
This person is with you when you go to the bathroom, they are there riht when you wake up. They are the first person you tell all your fears, accomplishments, failures, desires, passions to They are even when you dream. They are always there.
If that situation, god forbid, was forced upon you, the most productive way to make lemonade out of those lemons is to live in harmony with this person.
Getting to know him or her intimately and meaningfully, so you can have a healthy relationship with them.
Having a flourishing connection in which both of you abstain from unnecessary arguments and judgments and work together in order to enrich your joint time.
That seems like a good idea, right?
Here is the kicker: this is no hypothetical situation! This person other person is none other than you, yourself.
We, humans, are the only animal that has a dualistic nature to its 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. We are there with ourselves, at every moment, no matter what.
Taking time daily routine to check in with ourselves, to understand the nature of the relationship we have with ourselves, and thicken the bond we have to ourselves is something incredibly important, even detrimental. Meditation is actually the "Bonding time" between you and... well, you.
It's a time where you get to truly know yourself and your true core.
You can have a better relationship with yourself, and be more compassionate to yourself, as well as drive yourself to push forward. 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, or observation.
We do this so we can pick up on the errors that keep us from performing as we want, and learn to correct them.
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 better. As he continues noticing more and more errors and correcting them, he is becoming aware to more and more factors, such as his posture, form, or even his feet.
Ultimately, the errors get fewer and smaller, and Johnny can juggle like a true master. But there is a 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.
Meditation 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 your 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.
By practicing meditation, our ability to notice things get better, and with that our ability to learn and improve.
Once your ability to "notice" is in fact better, you can become more aware to everything you practice more efficiently. You can then and actively "supervise" yourself in real-time.
In fact, many pro-athletes like LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant have incorporated 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.
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 relationships you have externally to yourself - other humans.
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. This occurs in several ways: - You express you have been hurt and demand justice
- You remove yourself completely from the situation
- You suck the pain in while convincing yourself it's not worth fighting over.
Think of the last time you were hurt by someone.
Did you stop yourself in the middle of "being hurt", and asked why you are hurt right now?
I don't mean if you asked yourself LATER, when you calmed down and were analyzing the situation by yourself. I don't mean after telling yourself a good story of how the other person was a douche, and that you had every right to feel hurt.
I mean right there, on the spot, in the midst of this raging storm of emotion - 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 yourself and your feelings.
You learn to observe, rather than act upon.
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. It won't make anger go away, but it sure will make it less hurtful to yourself and the person in front of you. As a professional bridge burner pre-meditation, I can't express enough how this ability saved my relationships.
I realized I cannot control the behavior of others, but I can control my reactions to their behavior.
When I was about to snap at someone, picking up on the fact its about to happen before it actually happened saved me a lot of fighting.
Sure, sometimes the other person is a dick and deserves to be snapped at, but ask yourself: Who do you want to be? The 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 on How to Start
I bet that if you haven't been meditating so far, after reading this you are quite stoked 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.
Meditation is work, not a magic pill. It's not that you start meditating and a week later you're Gandi.
That means that in order to get good, you need repetition. 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. Add a little bit more time whenever you feel ready.
I would recommend to begin with 10 minutes each day, in the morning as a start.
If you feel like 10 is too much, do less. If the morning doesn't work for you, do it in the evening.
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.