Despite the gaining popularity and variety of definitions surrounding what exactly meditation is, very few of us actually know what meditation is and does. Some consider the practice of meditation to imagine something or someone that brings peace and harmony to our lives. Some consider the practice of meditation to concentrate on something for an extended period of time. Despite these being good practices to slow down from our busy lives, it is not the practice of meditation.
Meditation is simply a state of awareness. It can also make you more consciously aware of the world around you, boots sensory perception, increases stimuli processing capability, deepens thought processes, among other numerous emotional, psychological, and physical benefits.
Practicing meditation can lead to higher states of consciousness. Here are only a few of the many positive affects that meditation has on your state of consciousness:
- Find Stillness from the “Monkey Mind” — Zen Buddhists refer to the incessant churning of the human mind as the “Monkey mind.” Meaning, that our brains are “unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; and uncontrollable.” Buddha held that our minds are in constant motion. Meditation can aid in becoming fully conscious of your mind by taking time daily to enjoy silence and stillness within, and slowly diminishing the monkey mind.
- Regain Control — Many people are impulsive with their emotions and feelings, it is through meditation that you will begin to regain control over your thoughts and impulses. Through daily practice, it will become evident that you are not your mind and you are not your thoughts. You will begin to have less intrusive thoughts. It is also through the daily practice of meditation, that the concept of ’Self’ releases, bringing about a more enlightened state of consciousness.
- Rebuild your Brain — Meditation affects consciousness in a way that is measured by science. Despite scientists not fully comprehending the origin of consciousness (yet), an eight week study conducted by Harvard had found that meditation rebuilds the brains grey matter. MRI’s of the participants were taken both before and after the eight week study, analysis of the images showed an increase in grey-matter density, known to aid in learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.
If you’re a beginner looking for somewhere to start or someone who’s worried that meditation will take up too much of you’re time, try practicing 2 minutes of mindfulness everyday. You may even label it a “2-minute mindfulness check-in.” Although this won’t give you all the benefits of a full meditative practice, it will kick start your journey to consciousness. This can be done anywhere, whether you’re lying down in your bed, sitting in your office, or simply waiting to pick up a relative from the airport.
During this 2-minute mindfulness check-in, start by closing your eyes and taking deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Ensure that your inhales and exhales are of equal duration. An additional option could be to count your inhales and exhales as they occur. Once you have become accustomed to this breathing exercise, you may begin to shift your attention to the sensations you feel in your body. Reflect on how your toes might feel, if you’re chest feels heavy or light while you breathe, whether or not your back aches. Once you have become aware of the sensations in your body, you may conclude your 2-minute mindfulness check-in by taking another long, deep, inhale through the nose and out through the mouth.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I hope you take the time to try the 2-minute mindfulness check-in. I wish you well on your journey to finding the Gift of Consciousness. For those who have been practicing for some time now, I hope you never lose the love for your practice.