Meditation isn’t for me (it’s for everybody)

As meditation practices rely less on mysticism and more on practical application, more and more people are flocking to it every year. In addition, the scientific community has done their share of studies and concur, it’s healthy. Meditation has been credited with helping manage post traumatic stress disorder, promoting anti-aging, and speeding up physical rehabilitation. There is no need for incense, a yogi, wind chimes, gongs, or synthesized new age music. You just need yourself, a quiet place (not mandatory), and the will to give it a try.

Having taught meditation for years, I have come across many people who tell me, “I can’t meditate, every time I sit down my mind goes crazy thinking about everything. Meditation isn’t for me.” Actually it is one of the only things that can be for everyone. In its most simple form it guides you to relax and engage yourself in a more direct and nurturing way. Who is it for, if not for you. Then if it’s so good for me then why doesn’t it feel good? It will when you understand what is happening during meditation.

The kaleidoscope of random thoughts and emotions that race through our minds visit all of us, whether we meditate or not. This is because of the times we live in. Life today is fast, radically changing, and intense. The stakes seem to get higher the further we move forward. The difference between meditators and non-meditators is our ability manage instead of respond; choose instead of react.

When you close your eyes to meditate and the freight train of impulses comes rushing in, don’t get on. Stand on the deck watch the train as it races by. Notice what it looks like. The clearer you see it, the clearer you see that it is separate from you. Some of us will see our fears come to life right in before us. We may see a boss writing a bad review of our work, our friends talking behind our backs, our children failing in their aspirations. Other people will see their dreams and wishes coming true. You will imagine winning the lottery, finding the person of your dreams, hitting a home run in the World Series.

Whatever it is that decides to show itself won’t bother you if you are clear about what it is. Label what you see. Give it a name. Make a clear distinction between what you see and yourself. These things are just aspirations and anxiety, dreams and fears, nothing more. They are as normal as breathing. But just as we can choose to breath fast or slow, we can choose not to follow the whims of random thoughts and transient emotions.

Like anything worthwhile, this process takes effort but bit by bit you will gain more and more control of your mind. If you are a person more prone to impulse, quick response, and being reactionary then your brain is often operating from its amygdala. This region of the brain is responsible for initiating our fight or flight responses. This is reserved for life threatening situations and rapidly taxes the resources of our bodies. Unfortunately today many of us find ourselves developing habits and whole personalities that continually operate this way.

When we consciously make any choice we use a different part of our brain, the pre-frontal cortex. This area is associated with organizational thought, decision making, and positive feelings. When we meditate and organize our thoughts and make decisions, no matter how small we not only use this area of our brain but we can develop it. This is why many meditators meditate. To gain more control of themselves and to enjoy the positive feelings that come from nurturing ourselves with breath and kind attention.

Keep in mind a few simple things. Nothing worthwhile is easy. The more you do, the easier it gets. The less you do, the harder it is. Whatever you learn on your journey, be responsible to the pearls of knowledge that come along the way.

[Zenon Dolnycky, Epoch Times]

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