Why Exactly Do We Meditate?

Photo by Keegan Houser on Unsplash

It can be so easy to become distracted these days. There is a whole myriad of things there to take our minds off what is happening in our day to day lives. Entire industries have been created for exactly that purpose; social media companies, the video game industry or TV streaming services are but to name a few.

If we do not want to connect with ourselves we really don’t have to, we can leave our minds and our focus in the hands of others, where they will sit quite happily abstracted. This being the case, questions can sometimes arise, like; do we really know ourselves or are we really comfortable with our thoughts and feelings? These questions can be both uncomfortable and difficult to answer; and will inevitably lead to yet more questions; notably, how would I go about answering them and possibly more to the point, why would I want to?

So this is where meditation comes in. It is effectively the answer to the latter questions by providing the means in which to explore the former questions. It is an extremely powerful tool that costs nothing, requires neither training nor study, just practice. And through that practise it becomes abundantly obvious why spending time focussed on yourself is such an important and positive thing to do.

So what is it? Basically, it is taking some time out to sit in silence, breathe and practise clearing your mind of distractions. It can take time and in many instances be somewhat frustrating, to begin with. However once you have started to clear your mind you can direct your thoughts inward to focus on a whole host of personal things, like what is it that truly makes you happy? It can also be useful in dealing with or coming to terms with negative emotions.

In addition, it can be a great way, calm down and eliminate any stress you may be feeling. It does not really matter how long you do it for it can be for as little as five minutes or as long as an hour (or more), the main thing is to keep it up and be relatively consistent, at least to begin with. The more you do it, the easy it is and the more effective it becomes.

I have only really discovered meditation fairly recently and have to be honest, was quite sceptical, to begin with. As mentioned above, at first, I became frustrated with myself for not be able to stop my mind from becoming distracted, ending up focusing on all manner of things like what I needed to do that day, what I was going to eat for dinner or worse yet having some song repeating its self over and over in my head.

It was like my mind was doing anything it could to put me off and stop me from focusing. It nearly succeeded but I kept on trying and sure enough, I started to have more and more clarity. For me, I have always been quite happy with myself and have been comfortable with who I am. The thing that I find difficult, and is likely a bit of a hangover from when I really struggled with anxiety, is dealing with negative thoughts and not being able to let go of things.

These are two key issues that you can easily get away from by endlessly distracting yourself and believe me before I started meditating, I certainly did. The problem with negative thoughts is that they don’t go away, they just sit there, albeit in the background and tend to come out when you can’t distract yourself, like lying in bed at 3 am or sat on a train with no signal on your phone.

By meditating I was able to create a safe and calm space where I could first sit with these feelings and then with compassion and kindness either overcome or at least come to terms with them.  It has really helped with things and is now something that I try to do on a regular basis, each day if I can, even if it is just for five minutes. I can thoroughly recommend trying it; it could make a real difference.

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