What’s the point of meditation? February 16, 2018 – Posted in: Advice, Personal Development, Spirituality – Tags: benefits, connect, inner mind, meditate, meditation, mindful, mindfulness, peace, practice
When I first started learning to meditate (seven years ago) I made the classic rookie error of thinking the aim of the entire process was to utterly clear my mind. This resulted in many failed and frustrated attempts as mine is a mind that really doesn’t want to be emptied, and it turns out that’s not the point of meditation anyway.
Meditation and its more secular cousin, mindfulness, are practices that enable you to understand yourself better and connect with your inner world better. Therefore, your job is not to clear your mind but to observe and understand what goes on in there! For me, mindful meditation is the act of watching my thoughts, rather like I might sit on a riverbank and watch the water pass by. It’s the same with my thoughts, they pass through (if I let them!). So my first tip for beginners is to understand why you are meditating and to let go of any perfectionistic ideals about clear minds. That’s not to say that the practice of mindful meditation doesn’t result in a clearer mind (it often does) but this is a glorious by-product, not the goal.
Here are some other tips for you:
– Use guided meditations on YouTube – some are brilliant – or download the amazing Headspace app in order to have someone with you teaching you the basics while you learn
– Have a meditation ‘place’ in your home (if you can), as when you go there your body will automatically understand what you are about to ask it to do.
– Make sure you are warm enough and have an empty bladder. Switch your phone to ‘do not disturb’ but do set an alarm so that you can relax during the meditation.
– Start small. Ten minutes per day is enough for the first week or two. You’re aiming for 20 minutes once or twice a day (for optimum mental and spiritual health) but it takes yonks to get there. It’s not a race!
– Light a candle, burn incense, or use quiet music if these things help you to relax. One of the beautiful benefits of meditation is a heightened sensual awareness so use anything that will help you to quieten down.
Lastly, enjoy it! Meditation has all kinds of religious connotations but it can be as spiritual or secular as you decide it’s going to be. Connect to your inner self or connect to higher consciousness if you wish, there are no rules and it’s up to you what you use it for! The benefits are so massive that I simply can’t imagine my life without this daily practice now.