Keeping It Real About Finding Your Zen

May 21, 2024
Posted in Wellness
May 21, 2024 Claire

Keeping It Real About Finding Your Zen

Meditation is a practice that has quite literally changed my life and helped me in so many ways. Am I always the most consistent? No. Do I sometimes have days where I feel like I’m still not at ease even after trying to commit to my meditation? Sure. That’s because I’m human, and meditation is a practice that gets us in tune with our humanness, habits, thoughts, emotions, and ideas. That’s the actual work—developing the skill of mindfulness. In my experience, mediation doesn’t always provide an escape from life’s stresses. I think it has been perceived that way by people who have never tried it, and it has become somewhat of a misperception. Meditation has always allowed me to view thoughts and feelings with greater clarity. The practice cultivates a sense of calm and grounding amidst the ups and downs of daily life.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is an ancient practice of training the mind to cultivate present-moment awareness and inner calm. It involves focusing on a particular object, like the breath, an affirmation, or a mantra. The goal is not to instantly become a monk and be able to clear our minds of all thoughts. The goal is to bring gentle, nonjudgmental attention to the parade of thoughts, emotions, and sensations that arise—being able to observe the things that come up for us while not getting caught up in them. I’m sharing some misconceptions and misperceptions about meditation in hopes of reaching someone who felt like meditation was not for them, had a negative idea about the practice, or felt like they weren’t doing it right based on information they may have received in the past.

1. Meditation means clearing your mind of all thoughts: As stated previously, that’s not the primary goal. Perhaps for some who have been practicing for a long time, but for most of us… not. The goal of meditation is not to force your mind to be blank but rather to observe your thoughts without judgment and bring your attention back when it wanders.

2. You need to sit in a specific posture: While certain postures can help promote alertness and stability, meditation can be done in any comfortable position, including lying down.

3. It’s just “hippie” nonsense: Meditation has scientific backing and has been shown to provide mental and physical health benefits such as reducing stress and improving focus.

4. You need to meditate for hours: Even short sessions of 5-10 minutes per day can benefit beginners. The important thing is the regularity of practice. Commit to a few weekly sessions to start if every day seems daunting.

5. It’s about religion: While meditation stems from Eastern spiritual traditions, it can also be a secular practice focused solely on present-moment awareness and reducing mental distress. Anyone who practices a religion should meditate if they find it helpful. It can even be a great way to sit with your prayers or ground yourself in the teachings of your religion.

6. You must be flexible or fit: Meditation is accessible to anyone regardless of age or physical ability. It’s about training the mind.

7. Meditation cures everything: Meditation can be therapeutic, but it is not a cure-all and should be combined with other health practices and treatments as needed.

At its core, meditation is about developing present-focused attention and achieving a calmer, more balanced state of being.

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