Have you read about the benefits of meditation?
Do you feel that you should do it?
Do you enjoy the ‘lie down and relax bit’ at the end of a yoga class, but starting up your own practice seems difficult?
Are all the ‘presence’ memes on social media starting to evoke a mixture of desire and irritation?
You want to try meditation. You’ve even downloaded an app, but you and meditation just aren’t ‘sympatico’ at the moment. Sound familiar?
There are a few things I have discovered about meditation that not everyone is talking about. I have found them the most interesting reasons to fall in love with meditation… they are the reasons why I’ll always have meditation in my life.
Check these out and then see if you’re willing to try meditation again!
- It expands time:
The biggest resistance to starting up mediation is that you just don’t have ‘time’. With young kids and a highly creative ADHD type of a husband, I get it. I’ve convinced myself of that one too. But whenever I find a slither of my day to ‘sit’, I never miss a moment.
I’ve never said to myself, ‘Oh, if only I hadn’t done that five minutes of pure silence! I would have got the kids to bed earlier, or got another load of washing done, or written that email’. It’s ludicrous to even think about it.
There’s something about our linear and chronological thinking about Time that is rigid. Do you remember the feeling, as a child, of going on a journey and it seeming to take forever? Then you arrive home in what seems like half the time? Do you remember how long it used to be between Halloween and Christmas? An age, but not so much anymore – right?
Time shifts. It rubber bands about. Maybe it’s an actual space-time continuum thing. Or maybe it’s just our perception of it. In either case, meditation plays with it. Something about sitting down in the quiet, and taking time out, gives you more time back.
Call it productivity if you’re into that. Or call it the magic of the universe. When you sit down and try meditation something, somehow expands. You’ll get more done, and have more space in your day.
If you just need to get more stuff done, or you like the idea of bending the space-time continuum – grab a cushion. Jedi training starts now.
- You are more than what you think:
There’s a misconception that in meditation you are trying to not have any thoughts at all. That’s an overwhelming concept!
We are so consumed by our thoughts on a daily basis that even the concept can be enough to put you off even trying…
‘Oh, I can’t do meditation my mind is too busy.’
Noticing your thoughts and not engaging with them is a central part of mindfulness meditation. It isn’t always easy.
But you don’t have to get rid of your thoughts. You just find a quiet spot inside your mind where you can sit down and just watch them. Drop your attachment to them. Develop curiosity about them instead of walking hand in hand.
Of course, you’re going to get caught up in them a lot of the time, but sometimes you won’t. And that’s when it gets exciting.
Were you the kind of kid that liked to wonder about ‘the edge of space’? Or what happens when you die? Where dreams come from? If you were living in an ‘alternate reality’? Or, how did you know that life was real? Did you feel the wonder of possibility at the moment you realized that nobody truly knows?
If so, this part of meditation is for you.
The blissful moment when you realize you can exist, if only for a moment, in the spaces between all your thoughts.
It’s a sense of freedom. It’s internal. It’s a part of you and you can take it with you at all times. There’s a sense of wanderlust about the journey within. If you try meditation you can go there, and remember that childlike feeling of awe.
- You’re a natural:
Do you have the feeling that you just aren’t any good at meditation? Do you feel that meditation is for people who are calmer, or more peaceful, than you?
A little more ‘zen’ and little less headless chicken?
Sometimes, it’s so easy to get caught up in achievement and identity that we block ourselves from the simplest thing we can do:
Sitting, and being aware of yourself.
It’s like someone saying: ‘I’m not any good at running because I get all sweaty.’
You sweat because you’re human.
You have racing thoughts because you’re human.
When you first sit down to meditate you’ll realize how fast your thoughts are racing…
However, there is no good or bad. There is only the neutral fact of doing it.
There’s no prescribed state to achieve. There’s no level of attainment needed. You don’t need to pass exams or win a competition. There’s no destination. There’s no correct way. Meditation is the practice of sitting down and noticing.
That’s it in a nutshell!
Drop the identity around it. Drop the need to be good. You’re a born natural.
There is no failure.
- It feels lovely:
If you feel a certain amount of ‘should’ about meditation, it’s hard to do it. It’s one thing to want the benefits of meditation that you’ve read about (less stress, help fight depression, improve concentration, be totally awesome..). Actually doing it, is another.
But imagine that you enjoyed the feeling so much you didn’t particular care about the benefits…
What if it felt so pleasant that it didn’t take any persuading?
Think about all the reasons people know not to do something. Without judgment here, let’s say: Smoking. They do it anyway because it feels good to them in their body. It’s the ‘feeling’ of a thing that gets us to do it, or not.
(ahem…. There’s a reason that sex feels good. Procreation wouldn’t be happening otherwise despite the benefits to the species.)
Well, meditation feels good! (maybe not that good, but still… ;))
You can try it RIGHT NOW and see:
Close your eyes, take a breath.
Just for 5 seconds allow yourself to drop all your thoughts.
It’s only 5 secs so you can do it.
Have you tried it? What did you feel?
I am hoping that you felt a warmth in your body. A warmth in your arms or legs or chest. It’s a pure state of happiness that’s with you at all times, just underneath all that thinking.
With a bit more sitting, you can feel all sorts of strange and lovely sensations.
Your awareness of the energy in your body is heightened. This can change your perception of your body in space. You might feel that your hands or feet have expanded. Or that you are actually in a slightly different location.
It sounds trippy, and in a way it is. But there is no fear around it. No sense of being lost or out of control. All you need to do is open your eyes, or wriggle your toes to come back to what you know. Mostly you won’t want to. It’s blissful.
But there’s no fear around it. No sense of being lost or out of control. All you need to do is open your eyes, or wriggle your toes to come back to what you know. Mostly you won’t want to. It’s blissful.
This doesn’t happen every time. The good news is, however, that it happens more when you’re a new and open to the experience. So give it a go and enjoy it.
- Game -ify your mind:
When did you last try to pat your head and rub your tummy? Did it make you smile? I hope so. Did it peak your niggling sense of wanting to do it better?
When was the last time you had a really exciting idea that got you fired up? A new business, holiday or idea for a book? Even if it proves to be a pipedream, that moment of dream filled adrenalin is exciting – isn’t it?
The challenge of trying to observe your breath yet not control your breath, or see your thoughts but not think them, is like a mental tongue twister.
If you like a challenge, that’s completely private and down to you, with no rewards or accolades, then I think that you’ll enjoy the process of meditation.
If you like the lightness and thrill of a new idea emerging into your consciousness, as if it had been there waiting for you all along just to see it – you will like meditation.
Many of the different types of meditation include an element of mental focus and curiosity. And all involve a sense of wonder about what is possible.
Meditation isn’t only about peace and stillness, and totally rocking the lotus position.
Yes, it can change your life for the better if you let it. Yes, it can bring you closer to yourself and your dreams. It can improve your relationships with yourself and others. But don’t let that life changing (and fear inducing) fact put you off just giving it a go.
It’s fun, playful, and enlightening. For now, that is all you need. Ready to play?
- Level up in minutes:
You have time for a shower most mornings right?
The day wouldn’t start right without it. That’s how I feel about showers anyway.
The benefits of a shower are pretty clear; feel fresh, smell nice.
Whereas the benefits of meditation are usually thought of as long term. Something that takes a huge investment of time, to get some benefits at some point down the road.
It would be hard to convince yourself to get in the shower in the morning if it:
a) didn’t feel gorgeous (as does meditation), and
b) the effects weren’t immediate.
‘If you shower every day, you will smell very nice one day.’
Well, it turns out that the benefits of meditation are as immediate as taking a shower.
A recent study concluded that the practice of mindfulness meditation affected ‘rapid changes’ in gene expression in minutes. Minutes!
Here’s the ‘science bit’ from the study that backs this up:
‘Importantly, this study demonstrates that during one session of RR practice rapid changes in gene expression (on the order of minutes) are induced that are linked to a select set of biological pathways among both long-term and short-term practitioners that might explain the health benefits of RR practices. These genes have been linked to pathways responsible for energy metabolism, electron transport chain, biological oxidation and insulin secretion. These pathways play central roles in mitochondrial energy mechanics, oxidative phosphorylation and cell aging. We hypothesized that upregulation of biological oxidation gene sets may enhance the efficiency of oxidation-reduction reactions and thereby reduce oxidative stress.’
I’m not a scientist, but as far as I understand it this means that your epigenetic status, is immediately leveled up as a result of meditating.
Genes are switched on which improve your energy, metabolism, cell function and general awesomeness for the day. Over time, it increases your chances of living longer and being a funkier granny.
So how about it?
Does this change things a little bit? Makes it seem easier to just hop into the lotus position before breakfast doesn’t it? So, even mothers of wildlings, it’s worth your while sweeping away the lego and getting your ‘sit’ time. If you have time enough to take a shower and smell nice, you can give your genes a shake up in the morning (or any other time) too.
(And it still works if you are boosting your microbiome and opting for a more natural smell in the mornings these days.)
Need Extra Motivation?
The benefits of meditation are numerous, well-researched, and documented. But if you still need an extra bit of motivation to try meditation again, look for the fun in it!
Let it feel blissful, and never ever think that you’ll miss the minutes you spent. Somehow the universe pays it back with interest.
So, I challenge you to make some time today for meditation. Even if only a for few minutes. Find what you love about it… No rules, no judgment or expectation. Stay curious, and get to know your own silence.
By Amanda Clare
If you’d like help to get your silence met each day, find the fun in self-discovery, and feel heaps better; then you can contact me for a Curiosity Coaching Call @ email@example.com, or send me a message on facebook
It’s a freebie, I love to listen and I believe that you are so much more than you think.