Is Mindfulness Meditation for Me?
So you’re interested in learning mindfulness meditation, and wondering if it’s for you? Well, you’re not alone. You’ve probably heard about the practice, and have many questions, maybe even some doubts. Maybe you have trouble seeing the benefit of sitting still doing nothing when you could be spending your valuable time doing something more productive. These are all valid concerns. To understand what meditation is, it might help to first dispel some of the common misconceptions.
Misconceptions about Meditation
“Meditation is only for those seeking enlightenment.” There is actually some truth to this statement. Where the misunderstanding lies is in the definition of the term “enlightenment.” Many people believe that enlightenment is a state of spiritual awakening that only gurus achieve. While it can be that, enlightenment is also a gradual process of developing mindfulness, or awareness of who we are and our relationship to the rest of the world. This is the path to inner peace and true happiness. In other words, if we want to be happy and at peace, then we must become willing to seek enlightenment.
“I need to learn how to relax before I start meditating.” One of the objectives of meditation is to relax, so you don’t have to relax first. It’s like putting the cart before the horse. By sitting quietly without stimulating your senses, you allow you body and mind to settle down. After a few minutes of meditation, you will naturally begin to relax.
“I need to completely clear my mind when I meditate.” This is a tall order, even for experienced meditators. It’s natural to have stray thoughts, or for our mind to wander off. The idea is to keep bringing it back to the object of our meditation, which is usually our breath. The important thing to remember when meditating is not to expect perfection, but rather improvement. Otherwise, you’ll create more stress in yourself.
“It takes a long time to realize any benefits.” This is simply not so. You will immediately feel more relaxed and peaceful. In fact, one study showed that just 4 days of brief meditation improved mood, cognitive abilities, and reduced fatigue.
“I’m too busy: I don’t have time to meditate.” Just 10-20 minutes a day can yield significant benefits. Many of us spend more time than this playing with our cell phones. It is all a matter of priorities. Where is your valuable time better spent?
“Meditation is too difficult to learn.” The basics of mindfulness meditation are quite simple. You can learn them in just a few minutes. The hard part is staying motivated and committed.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is a secular form of meditation that has its roots in the oldest form of meditation the Buddha taught over 2,500 years. It’s main goal is to help us overcome our suffering so we can achieve true inner peace and happiness. What meditation does is help us develop mindfulness, so we can become aware of the sources of our suffering.
This is a completely different approach to happiness than most of us are familiar with. We generally think of happiness as feeling good: that is, sensory pleasure or emotional gratification. The problem with seeking happiness this way is that feelings are temporary. For example, we enjoy a tasty meal for just the few minutes that we’re eating. With mindfulness meditation, we identify and address the sources of our suffering. Once we remove these sources, all we’re left with is peace and tranquility.
What Can I Expect from Meditation?
There are many health benefits of mindfulness meditation. The practice has been shown to lower stress, blood pressure, and the risk of heart disease. It can also strengthen the immune system, improve mental health, and even slow the aging process.
On an emotional level, you can expect to be more calm even in stressful situations, your emotions will be more stable, and your relationships with loved ones will improve. Over time, you will develop a much greater understanding of the world, which will make it easier to navigate life’s challenges. You will realize the peace and fulfillment you’ve been searching for.
How Do I Get Started?
Getting started is relatively simple. Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for a few minutes. Sit quietly and just observe your breath mindfully. When a distraction arise (and it will), just ignore it and bring your attention back to your breath. Just keep repeating this process. After a few minutes, your mind will begin to settle down.
If you are new to meditation, start with 5-10 minutes of meditation every day, or every other day. The important thing is to be consistent. After a week or two you can increase the time to about 20 minutes or more.
There is a little more to mindfulness meditation, but these suggestions will help you get started. If you want to learn more, there are other resources available, such as books, CDs, and workshops.
So, if you’re still wondering if mindfulness meditation is for you, ask yourself these two questions: 1) Do you want to live a happier and more fulfilling life? 2) Are you willing to prioritize just a few minutes a day to your practice? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then give it a try. You have nothing to lose, and so much to gain.
I can tell you from my personal experience that ever since I’ve been meditating, I am more at peace; my life is filled with wonderful relationships; and loneliness is non-existent. These are the happiest days of my life. You too can have all this if you are willing to make a small commitment to your practice.
Best wishes in your meditation practice.
Need help learning mindfulness meditation? Check out Mindfulness Meditation Made Simple: Your Guide to Finding True Inner peace (paperback).
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