All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone. Blaise Pascal
Your mind may be your most important asset. Everything we do requires our mind’s direction. Moving our bodies, doing our job, loving our family, playing a game, preparing our meals. If we care about our ability to do these things and do them well, we must take care of our minds. Meditation is a phenomenal tool for doing that.
While there are many different types of meditation, I really like Andy Puddicombe’s description. This former Buddhist monk says that meditation is “about stepping back, seeing the thought clearly — witnessing it coming and going — without judgment, but with a relaxed, focus mind.”
Don’t worry, everyone who meditates experiences the same thing: the wandering mind. Meditation isn’t about stopping the wandering mind, it’s about noticing the wandering mind. When you notice a thought that keeps recurring, it’s an opportunity to allow it to come and go. The practice of allowing it to come and go gives the thought less control over us and causes us less stress. The practice of noticing what we’re thinking requires that we be aware what’s happening right now, and the more time we spend in the right now, the less time we spend worrying about the past or the future and the happier we’ll be. The more practice we get at noticing our thoughts, the better we’ll be able to direct our mind to better thoughts.
It’s like exercising the brain. And this practice of noticing and allowing leads to scientifically proven emotional benefits like decreased depression, anxiety, or panic; a better ability to manage stress; and improved interpersonal relationships. Building the mental muscle doesn’t result in just emotional benefits. It’s physical, too, and meditators have been shown have increased gray matter in the brain, stronger immune systems, improved memory, lowered chronic pain levels, and an increased ability to recover from addictions.
Start your meditation practice with just a minute or two a day, because you’re more likely to meditate if it’s easy to do. Once you’ve created a habit and you’re making time meditate regularly, slowly increase the time and continue to build that meditation muscle.
Give yourself time to meditate, because your mind is a terrible thing to waste.