WTF is meditation anyway?

When people tell me they suffer with depression or anxiety (which they do a lot), I will always suggest that they begin to meditate. Immediately I am met with replies of “I can’t do that – my mind is far too busy” or “I couldn’t possibly stop thinking for ages. My mind doesn’t work like that”. Or they will just murmur in a way that suggests they might be into it if they knew what the hell it was.

Saying that you can’t meditate because your mind is far too busy is like saying you can’t do arm strengthening exercises because your Breathearms are far too weak.

It is why we do the practice! And it’s called a practice because we have to practice it – no one is any good at it without the practice.

Meditation has many purposes and there are many types but essentially the main aims of meditation are:

  • To become aware of what the mind is doing – what it sneaks off to think when you aren’t watching.
  • To improve your power of concentration – to regain the control of your mind.
  • To instil a feeling of peace from a) the physical effects of breathing longer, slower, deeper breaths and b) from knowing that you are not your mind, that you are the being that uses your mind.

What is the practice? Well it can be done in a range of ways but most commonly it is practicing to follow your breath all the way in and all the way out and when your mind wanders off to think about what you are going to have for dinner you simply bring it back to the breath. Sounds boring? It is. But so (in my opinion) are arm exercises – yet if we want to ensure that our arms are strong enough that we can use them to our advantage so that they are not going to be flaccid masses hanging off our torso, unable to help us when there are heavy obstacles in our way, we need to do daily exercises.

It’s cruel but that’s the way it is.

So if your mind has a nasty habit of running down negative pathways and tells you that you are not good enough, that you can’t cope, that everything is going to turn out badly… you have to spend the time training it to go down the pathways you want it to go down. And the first step in doing this is meditation.

 

This link will take you to a free, guided meditation I have recorded. It is only about 10 minutes long. If you don’t think you have time to spend 10 minutes a day regaining control over your mind… you need to do it twice.

 

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