Meditating is important.
If you don't believe the gurus and monks, believe the poets. If you don't believe the poets, believe the psychologists. If you don't believe the psychologists, believe the scientists who swear by meditation — and who have mapped its effects on the brain.
By literally all accounts, the benefits of meditation are innumerable. From a psychological standpoint, meditation can reduce stress and anxiety and can help with all kinds of mental illnesses. From a religious standpoint, meditation can be a doorway to accessing the divine and to relinquishing the incessant desires that keep us away from closeness to God. From a scientific standpoint, meditation can help increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, increasing memory and condition, and can even slow aging. Across the board, everyone seems to agree that meditation can literally decrease biases and increase compassion.
Meditation is one of those areas where science converges with faith and spirituality, revealing that there were never many divisions between the two. Much of the research on meditation is speculative, but it has huge potential to reveal what practices like Buddhism have always been saying — that we're deeply connected to everything around us, and we can hone our connection, wearing away our sense of self to develop a compassionate unity with the rest of the world.
This is not an exaggeration: Quantum physics does tell us that there is a unified, interconnected quantum field of energy that permeates all the universe. And more and more research is coming out proposing that meditation can allow us to connect to this quantum field.
Take the research of Dr. Joe Dispenza, who makes this argument in his book Becoming Supernatural. In it, Dispenza argues that by accessing deep states of meditation, we can access the quantum field, which is where we can reprogram unconscious beliefs and set intentions that will allow us to manifest entirely new realities. "We all have the capacity to tune in to frequencies beyond our material world and receive more orderly coherent streams of consciousness and energy," the book's website reads. "We can intentionally change our brain chemistry to initiate profound, mystical, transcendental experiences; if we do this enough times, we can develop the skills to create a more efficient, balanced, healthy body, a more unlimited mind, and greater access to the realms of spiritual truth."
Healing mental illness. Becoming compassionate. Manifesting your dream life. Accessing the quantum field that connects us all. All these are pretty damn good reasons to meditate.
"Touch your inner space, which is nothingness, as silent and empty as the sky; it is your inner sky," says Osho. "Once you settle down in your inner sky, you have come home, and a great maturity arises in your actions, in your behavior. Then whatever you do has grace in it. Then whatever you do is a poetry in itself. You live poetry; your walking becomes dancing, your silence becomes music."
Of course I want to live poetry. Yet even though I know all this, I don't meditate much. Because meditating is damn hard, especially if you're a chronic overthinker like me.
As someone who considers themselves a relatively peaceful and in-control person, meditating is a deeply humbling experience. It makes me realize just how out of control my mind really is, and how much my life has been dictated by the prattling of my ego. And as someone who likes to get things right on the first try, the fact that I have been meditating for years and am still struggling is deeply frustrating.
I've made the decision to go on a 10-day Vipassana silent retreat at some point in the next year, because I want to really give time to meditation, to get deep into it and recalibrate my mind, and I am convinced that removing all distractions and getting in a completely new headspace is the best way to get there.
But before then, I want to really get better and develop the skills I need to survive those 10 days. Because of course I want to reduce stress and anxiety, but most of all, if there's a quantum field out there, you can bet I want to access it. And more than that, I want to get to that space of peace, stillness, compassion, and acceptance that I've read so much about but have always been so far from.
Tips and Tricks to Make Meditating Easier
So how do I get there? There are some basic, general tips that apparently help those of us who struggle with meditation. For example, you might try reciting a mantra, as is done in transcendental meditation. You also might try doing a simple body scan (also one of the best ways to fall asleep, in my experience). You might try meditating while lying down, which I also find helpful. Counterintuitively, you might try meditating for a long time — perhaps 30 minutes or an hour — because I've found that my brain takes ten or fifteen minutes to simply chill out.
Headspace | Meditation Tips | Meditating with Beginner's Mind www.youtube.com
Alternatively, you could try a very short meditation, perhaps two minutes. You could focus on crating a peaceful space that's conductive to meditation. You could choose a time of day that works for you — right when I wake up and right before I go to bed seems best for me. You could work out or do some yoga before meditating. You could try music or guided meditation. And last but not least, you could try to not take things so seriously. Because in the end, meditation is just sitting, breathing, and being alive.
"Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have," says Pema Chodron. "We can lead our life so as to become more awake to who we are and what we're doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we're doing. The key is to wake up, to become more alert, more inquisitive and curious about ourselves."
There are really no tips or hacks that will get you to that place of selflessness and wakefulness. You just have to sit there and quiet your mind, bringing it back to your still heart center over and over no matter how many times the outside world tries to break your concentration.
If you can easily quiet your mind, good for you, but for the rest of us, may you find peace and some happiness on your way to the ultimate destination that is ecstasy through interconnection to the energetic force that links us all to everything around us.
"We must experience the Truth in a direct, practical and real way. This is only possible in the stillness and silence of the mind; and this is achieved by means of meditation," says Samael Aun Weor.
As a lifelong truth seeker, it's ironic that I've always been avoiding the truth — that only by leaving behind my chronic desire to find truth and answers and meaning will I reach the place of stillness that contains the truth.