Anyone who has tried to change something in an area of their life has undoubtedly encountered resistance along the way. This is true no matter what area you want to work on (weight, relationships, career, or other). This resistance can be external or internal and is usually a combination of both. These tries and retries result in a cycle of defeating thoughts as you have “programmed” yourself to believe that even if you want something good, you can’t or won’t achieve it.
These old habits are hard to break! If you’ve seen my videos, articles, and book (links), you know I believe those old habits can be replaced with new ones; habits that encourage and guarantee you success in changing your life. One of the most important new habits you need to develop is Meditation.
What is Meditation?
Let’s begin with what meditation is not. The discipline of meditation is not a bunch of eastern hoo-doo. It does not require that you sit for hours in a silk paneled room with the sounds of trickling water and Asian music near an oasis of bamboo plants and a pond full of Koi. It does not require large swaths of time. You don’t have to be double-jointed or light incense. Meditation is not about any religion. Although this is a perfect way to connect and talk with God.
Meditation is simply awareness. The Perspectives of Psychological Science defines meditation as, “the nonjudgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment”. Meditation involves stopping your actions and thoughts long enough to listen and acknowledge what is currently happening. There are four basic elements of this awareness:
· What is happening to my body right now?
· What is happening in my mind right now?
· What emotions do I feel right now?
· What am I paying attention to right now?
Meditation starts in the mind but it affects everything in your body, spirit, and environment.
Those who practice meditation on a regular basis have been found to have dramatically lower levels of the stress hormone, Cortisol. Reducing stress chemicals in your mind can have a very significant impact on everything about and around you. Think about those times when you’ve felt relaxed. Your calm mind was able to think more clearly. A clear mind is then able to remember things, strategize, and pay attention. A relaxed body moves in smooth, deliberate, and efficient movements. A calm person affects others around them; in fact, the one who remains calm is quite often the one who leads the way.
Meditative people experience higher cognitive function. They are sharper, smarter, and more aware of their surroundings. Meditation as a discipline actually works as a strengthening exercise: the more you do it, the more control you have over your powers of attention. Meditation is used for pain management, self-control over emotions, and thought processes. This is a key skill for anyone who is attempting to eliminate previously-held limiting belief structures such as, “You can’t” or “you don’t deserve that”.
A practice of meditation is an effective way to become a more compassionate person as well as a more virtuous one. As you build awareness of the truth, denial falls away. You see things for how they actually are, rather than what is convenient or manipulated to seem. Then, a feeling of being moved to action can take its place. If you want to be a better person than you have been, meditation will help you achieve that.
Meditation also lowers feelings of depression. Depressive feelings give our minds the impression that something (or everything) good is just “too hard” to strive for or achieve. We feel stagnant and discouraged as our failures pile up and our goals seem further and further out of reach. Awareness defeats this false perception and allows us to focus on what is true. As we are moved with compassion for ourselves or for others, we begin to feel a call to action. Our clear and calm minds can then see a way forward. When we first think of change, we can then start to move towards it, in steps that we can manage.
If meditation is so wonderful, why are people afraid to try it?
People are often afraid of what they don’t understand. Meditation can be so simple that it’s easy to dismiss. After all, if we have conditioned ourselves to think everything is just too hard, why would we believe that something so simple can have such a powerful effect? But watch out! This dismissal is often just an excuse, another barrier to deflect from what we really fear facing: the truth.
It’s important to note right here that the truth you are fearing may not be the actual truth at all. Our feelings often do not add up to what is really there. For instance, the paralyzing fear that there is a monster under the bed doesn’t actually mean there is a real hairy monster waiting to bite the first foot that dangles off the edge! It’s the fear of an imagined beast that keeps you shivering under the covers, afraid to move. Awareness is like turning on the light and looking to see that there’s nothing so frightening truly there. And if you need to get the broom out to sweep the dust bunnies and odd socks that linger, you know how to get it and accomplish that task with confidence.
Building awareness through meditation can help you change the way you think.
Because meditation allows you to become more aware of what is happening right now, it also allows you to contrast that with where you want to go. If you discover you are actually repeating negative messages to yourself, you can change that to empowering, positive statements. If you find you are exuding a slouched posture and frown, you can straighten your spine, smile, and walk forward confidently. In both of those examples, you will become a more positive, happy person because you first became aware, contrasted the reality with your desire, and made an actual change. The effect is real.
If you want to change your health, your marriage, finances, success… whatever, it all begins with desire. But as you’ve learned throughout your life, just wanting something is not enough. You have to find a way to make that desire a vision with a clear path of steps that lead toward it. The New Habits are that path; Meditation is one step upon the way to achievement.
Coming Next... Laughter