Meditation declutters our mind, it’s easy, and life changing. Here’s why…
1 Mar

Meditation declutters our mind, it’s easy, and life changing. Here’s why…

Meditation declutters our mind, it’s easy, and life changing. In a culture where we’re taught to prove our worth and achieve more, it’s difficult to make well-being a priority. Let’s face it…we often believe we’re not enough, we need to buy things to be better, and we’re constantly striving to matter. In today’s fast-paced world, finding inner peace and achieving success can seem like an impossible task. But did you know that meditation is a simple solution that helps us achieve both?

Meditation changes the relationship we have with ourselves, our mind, and experiences we have in life. It’s true. Meditation is a way for us to invest in our own well-being. It’s a practice that involves focusing our attention in being mindful to achieve a state of mental clarity and emotional calm. As we practice, our results accrue.

So, what is meditation?

Let’s begin our discussion by exploring what meditation is, why we should meditate, how we benefit, and what we can do to get started today. Meditation is a practice that trains our attention and awareness. It’s how we practice being who we truly are. Know this for sure, meditation isn’t a theory nor about religion, rules, or yoga. It’s not doing, expecting, trying, achieving, nor waiting. And it’s certainly not about posture either. Essentially, we’re practicing being rather than doing. We’re simply tuning into what is already happening.

“Befriend the present moment, by befriending the feeling and the sensations of the breath moving in and out of your body, because it’s always here. “Without any contrivance, you’re not forcing anything to happen, you’re simply tuning in to what’s already happening.” ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD

Meditation serves as a way to navigate the challenges of our modern world. It’s an ancient wisdom practice that has been used for centuries to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and increase self-awareness. It’s a practice that offers us many benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. By engaging in meditation, we cultivate a sense of inner peace and clarity amidst the chaos of our daily life.

This powerful tool retrains our mind. It helps us empty our mind of thoughts to live in stillness and being. It involves focusing and clearing of our mind using a combination of mental and physical techniques. When we meditate, we’re practicing presence which is the end of thought.

Unfortunately, we’ve taught our mind to think so much that it doesn’t know how to not think. It’s normal for our mind to think, but spending time dwelling in thought can be destructive.

What’s the purpose of meditation?

The purpose of meditation is to achieve inner peace. It gives us the opportunity to practice experiencing our true nature so we can rediscover our inner peaceful and happy state. Notice, we’re in the habit of believing our thoughts and living our life in the mind. Yet thoughts are only the ego’s interpretation of life, and this interpretation is similar to a 2-year-old.

Instead of engaging with the mind, we can notice thoughts and not identify, not follow, and not add to them either. When we learn to recognize them and return our attention back to our body and breath, we experience what’s real. Meditation is a process of awakening to the present moment. Experiencing our senses in the body anchors us into presence. It serves as a portal to watch the ego and what’s happening rather than identifying with it.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in the sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Health benefits are well documented.

The health benefits of sitting still and quietly following the breath are well documented. Meditation is often used as a treatment for hypertension, insomnia, and chronic pain. Because meditation is an habitual process of training our mind to focus and redirect our thoughts, it essentially reduces psychological distress. As we meditate, we become more self-aware…and more peaceful.

Although meditation is a well-known technique for reducing stress and anxiety, research suggests that it may also help enhance our mood and boost cognitive skills. Studies show that meditating even for as little as 10 minutes increases the brain’s alpha waves that are associated with relaxation and decreases anxiety and depression.

As we know, stress is strongly linked to diseases such as cancer, lung disease, accidents, suicide, liver disease, obesity, and more. Thus, the practice is encouraged because it boosts our immune system and improves our general sense of well-being. We become kinder, calmer, more patient and loving, less stressed, sleep better, have greater creative energies, and experience inner peace. In fact, did you know the highest form of meditation is relaxation?

Let’s get started…

So, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced practitioner of meditation, we can all benefit from deepening our practice. Our modern life is so fast and loud, meditation slows and quiets us for centering and balance. Many people are motivated to meditate when they have a great loss or significant change in their lives. Because we’re all subject to challenges in life, why not start now so you can prepare for any difficult situation? Most people can find 15 minutes in their day to practice.

Too many people attempt meditation, but then give up. Often, they say “it didn’t work for me” or “I can’t meditate”. Know that the mind will tell you it’s a waste of time and boring. It’s not. The ego is bored, not you. It’s spoiled too. The ego mind has had its way up until now. However, after a few months of practice, your mind will slow down, and you’ll look forward to meditation.

Here’s what we can expect.

When we meditate we can expect the mind to be noisy. This is normal for us, yet dysfunctional and a habit we can overcome. We can unlearn habitual thought patterns with meditation. During meditation, it’s quite normal for the mind to wander by dwelling on thoughts about the past and future. Thoughts pull us in many directions. Thus, the practice stabilizes the mind by practicing being in the “state of being”.  

Although being is our natural state, we’ve basically trained the mind to stay busy. We stress over health, money, relationships, career, worry or anxiety about future events, regret from the past, ruminate, rehearse, anticipate, and more. Notice the past has already happened, the future hasn’t happened, so the mind can’t manage either one.

When we practice meditating, we’re practicing watching what the ego mind is up to. In our practice, we retrain the mind to let go. As we observe our thoughts, we learn to gently release them and return back to the awareness of our body breathing. When we don’t engage with thoughts, we’re teaching the ego we’re in charge. This is how we interrupt the ego mind. We don’t get involved. Instead, we notice how thoughts are random, repetitive and unproductive. As we do, the thoughts slow down and the mind quiets. We’re able to step away to see the truth and not fall for the ego’s tricks anymore.

Let’s apply what we’ve learned.

As we’ve learned, meditation has been around for thousands of years. During meditation, when we focus on one thing, we get rid of the stream of thoughts that busy our mind and cause us stress. If practiced daily, this calming process can lead us to better physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Breathing techniques are simple, easy, quick to do, and have amazing results. The breath technique gives the mind something to do and helps calm the process. It satisfies the mind until it learns to slow down. The intention is to let go of any distractions. Begin with 5-10 minutes and set a regular time of the day to practice. Consider building your practice to 20 minutes a day.

In any situation, you can do a mini meditation to relieve stress. Simply pause for a moment to be with one conscious breath. It will have a calming effect on your state of mind as you move from the mind to the body experience. The body will be able to relax, as the mind clears. Try this next time your phone rings. Take a moment to pause and breathe before rushing to answer it. Taking one or two conscious breaths gives us greater peace and clarity. 

Remember, we can’t think thoughts and follow our breath at the same time. Once we turn our attention toward our breath, the thought falls away…until or if we engage our attention back to thoughts. It can be as simple as pausing for a few seconds to hear a clock ticking, listen to the birds singing, smell the fresh air or a flower, feel the grass under our feet, or maybe listen to the trees rustling in the wind.

Again…all we’re doing when we meditate is tuning into what is already happening. When we practice watching the mind and its thoughts, we practice not living in our head. This is how we learn to live in inner peace all the time.

Things to remember when preparing to meditate.

Don’t judge how you meditate. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. What matters is that it helps you reduce stress and feel better overall. It’s a practice and a tool for life.

Begin by leaving your mind and all your thoughts outside the door during meditation. Notice, when we’re in a tug of war and we let go of our end, it’s over. So, when a challenge appears during meditation…such as an event, thought, emotion, conflict, image, situation, fear, or reaction, let go and simply return your attention back to the body breathing. Don’t follow or engage with the mind and don’t resist either. Watch instead…

The plan here is to grow the silent gap between thoughts, one gap at a time. We don’t want to be trickable. In time, the distractions lose their power. The mind settles down. If you find yourself waiting or bored, again, simply return to the practice. Let go of what arises in the mind as you meditate. Don’t try to make something happen either. Learn to welcome distractions. The goal is to overcome all obstacles by allowing everything to be as it is. Realize we can step out of the mind by observing it. Thinking thoughts is a habit. Just relax and let it Be.

Let’s Practice.

If you’re new to meditation, it can be challenging to know where to start.

  • First…set aside a practice time by starting with 5-10 minutes.
  • Next, find a quiet and comfortable place where you can sit undisturbed for at least 10 minutes.
  • It’s important to be consistent with your practice. Initially, you may find it helpful to listen to calming music or a guided meditation. Eventually the mind won’t need it anymore.
  • Sit comfortably. Relax the mind. Straighten your posture, soften, and calm the body as well.
  • Close your eyes or soften your gaze and connect to your breath.

Focus your attention…

  • Don’t think, imagine, recall, judge, resist, achieve, expect, do anything, or try to control.
  • Let go of any need or feeling of lack.
  • Release any resistance to rise above it.
  • Empty yourself by setting aside any thoughts for the next few minutes of meditation.
  • Focus on your breath to clear your mind.
  • Let judgments float by like clouds. Know all is neutral without thoughts.
  • Instead, rest in Being. Allow what is.
  • Observe thoughts, emotions, and sensations. Watch and allow without engaging.
  • Recognize when your mind wanders, feel the sensation in your body, and redirect your attention back to your breath.
  • As you breathe, experience the belly or chest rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
  • To experience the body’s aliveness, you may wish to place your left hand on the belly and your right hand on the heart.

Hang in there…

  • You may also consider paying attention to one of the following: listen to a clock ticking, watch a candle flame, using a mantra such as repetitive chanting or silent repetition of a sound, word, or phrase as well as using an affirmation, concentrating on an object, focusing on a physical sensation, or doing a body scan from head to toe. An example could be saying “Om” on each outbreath or calm on the inhale and peace on the exhale.
  • Keep coming back to your breath over and over again. Repetition is needed.
  • It’s normal to deal with distractions such as: thoughts, emotions, body sensations, outside noise, etc. Simply, bring your attention back to the body breathing.
  • With time and practice, you’ll begin to experience the benefits of meditation and develop a greater sense of inner peace and well-being.
  • As the mind wanders from the breath, notice it and gently redirect your attention back to the breath.
  • Be aware of the body breathing and trust your experience. All experiences are normal.
  • Results will accrue with practice. It’s an investment.
  • Don’t forget to be kind and patient with yourself as you grow.

Remember…the goal is to awaken to the awareness of our inner mental, emotional, and physical experiences. We can use meditation to reclaim our authority and rediscover our true nature, happiness, and inner peace. This is how we break free.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog. Be patient with yourself as you grow and be proud of how far you’ve come. Please share this blog with a friend. It may be exactly what they need to hear. Don’t forget to return to read my upcoming blogs.

For more insight, consider reading Chapter 9 “The Busy Mind” in my book: “Breaking Free from the Ego: A Course in Finding and Freeing Yourself”.

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Coming soon…An online course to break free.

About the Author – Trina Carroll-Houk is a spiritual teacher, counselor, and founder of Breaking Free Boundaries, LLC who specializes in self-awareness, mindfulness, and the spiritual dimension of being. Her goal is to help people improve their quality of life so they can experience inner peace, meaningful purpose, and greater fulfillment. Trina represents a movement focused on helping people release what limits them from living in a higher dimension of spiritual consciousness.