Why You Should Meditate

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Why You Should Meditate

Some benefits to meditation often cited include reduced stress and anxiety, easing chronic pain and depression, and decreased blood pressure. Yet despite these claims, when approached with the importance of meditation it’s not uncommon for a person to feel ‘too busy’ to meditate. But that feeling that one is too busy exposes 2 things – first, is a misconception that meditation needs to take significant amounts of time. Meditation is about stopping the autopilot of life and simply being with one’s experience, so as little as 5 or 10 minutes would be better than nothing. And second, if one has the feeling of too busy, often that is the person who may benefit the most from meditation because they are so busy rushing from one thing to the next. It’s unlikely one might say they are too busy to check their phone or check their email or check their social media – many things that we sometimes do automatically, suggesting it’s not always a matter of time.


But if you put aside the physical & psychological benefits of meditation, meditation is still one of the most powerful things you can do to positively impact your life. Why?


Because your experience of life is filtered by your perception of the world around you. And your perception is filtered by the way in which your brain focuses attention. We are constantly filtering our view of the world thru our past experiences, things we learned, and constantly learning new things which updates the way we filter experience in a continual process of top down & bottom up processing.


Have you ever repeated certain patterns in your life and not know why?


What typically happens is we have a bad experience, and get stuck in this top down processing leading to expectations of what might happen, leading us to view the world in a biased way, which can lead to a self fulfilling prophecy.


Meditation can change one’s relationship to the way in which they experience events – influencing the way we perceive and process information, particularly by slowing down excess top down construction (thru imposing our expectations) and by allowing greater presence in our lives.


Take for example a person who grew up in a very dysfunctional family – as an adult they may continue to carry a sense of anxiety and dread around other people that they constantly felt as a child. Outside the context of family, that feeling of anxiety around other people is the past intruding on the present – it is based on repeated dysfunctional experiences, but the act of generalizing those experiences to the world is a form of top-down construction causing one to see the world as unsafe. This can prevent a person from seeing the many wonderful people they cross paths with. It can also make other people pull away, particularly when they sense the state of discomfort the anxious person is in, based on a belief that the entire world and everyone in it is unsafe – when that discomfort may not have anything to do with them.


If you were to take a person and change nothing but the fact that they meditate daily – assume outwardly their life remains the same with the same career, family, friends, problems, obstacles etc… it’s not uncommon that this person may come to feel more peace, ease, joy, and maybe even gratitude despite the fact that nothing has changed. This comes with a greater presence for life that include more of an openness and acceptance to what is. How is it meditation can do this?


Meditation has the potential to help individuals be less reactive, more present, begin to see patterns they repeat, especially negative patterns, and when difficult challenges occur help to find some space between the difficult event, and one’s own reaction to that difficult event. In a way, meditation makes us less of a prisoner to our own mind and our own habitual ways of acting. When we are in such a rush, living in autopilot, meditation helps find moments to simply be present with ourself, our experience, and whatever it is that comes up – without any judgement, without wanting things to be different, and without trying to force things to be different.


Many beginners to meditation might not know if they are ‘doing it properly’ – but this is actually a misconception because meditation is not about ‘doing’ anything – meditation is about being. Simply being with what is in this moment, in an open, accepting, non-judgmental and curious way. Allowing one’s experience without trying to change it. This can be challenging when life isn’t going how we would like, but meditation provides an opportunity for simply being with what already is. Not only are we more likely to find joy in life when we give it our full attention, but giving the present moment our fullest attention actually puts us in the best position to take on what is to come.


So meditation is not about forcing some outcome, and despite it’s benefits it’s not about getting something – it’s not about achieving some state of bliss or tranquility, even tho for some that might happen. Meditation is actually quite simple – simply being with what is, being with whatever is arising in the moment. Being with yourself and your experience in this moment. When you are able to be, it can change your experience of life. And by changing your relationship with life, you’re likely to open to new possibilities!

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