My journey with meditation has been long and torturous. I started and stopped too many times to count, But I now meditate every day. Here’s what made that happen.
Over 30 years I gave myself every reason not to do it. It just didn’t work for me. I couldn’t stop my mind from thinking.
It wasn’t until I finally understood the following 3 reasons to meditate was it an absolute no-brainer. I had to do it as much as I had to clean my teeth or have a shower every morning.
My first attempt with meditation was when I was 19 yrs old at University and I very quickly gave it away due to peer pressure. Friends thought it was hilarious. Oh, how life could have been different!
Next, I was 24 weeks pregnant and in labour with my third child. I called a health clinic I knew and frantically bellowed down the phone, “I’m in labour, I need to get out of labour, what do I do?”. They told me to meditate. I mediated for 24 hours and got out of labour. I was placed on the antenatal ward and told I would have the baby in the next few days. I meditated day and night and went for another 6 weeks before giving birth to a live, breathing little girl. I went home with my tiny baby, to my two little boys and no family support in our new country, never to meditate again.
That was until I was in total burnout 20 years later. That event really focused me on what meditation could offer. After 8 years of practising, studying and teaching meditation, these 3 things ensure I meditate daily and I would like to share them with you.
1. Meditation is not about sitting in bliss
If you think meditation means sitting crossed-legged, chanting Om, in meditative bliss, you will be sadly let down. It’s not like that at all.
As soon as you allow yourself to stop, your mind will go nuts. And that’s normal and required. So, every time you sit down to meditate and this happens, get up and pat yourself on the back. You have just done a very important thing for your mental health.
2. Our brains are artefacts of the past and need daily cleaning
The most important thing to know about meditation is it cleans the toilet of your subconscious mind. This is the mind that records everything we experience, see and hear in our lives from birth. 80-90% of our behaviour comes from the patterns, behaviours and habits, stored by our subconscious minds, created in the past.
That means our brains are artefacts of the past but still influencing our future behaviour and habits! We don’t want that. So every day we need to sit for 5-10 minutes and allow all those thoughts and feelings to surface from the subconscious mind and clear them so nothing prevents us from creating a present life of our dreams.
It’s a toilet in there and it needs a scrub every day.
3. It’s all about the gap
Research clearly shows that when you meditate, the grey matter of the frontal cortex responsible for “higher reasoning” gets thicker and creates more activity. This creates “space” that enables you to choose how you react to whatever life is throwing your way. You stop reacting in the moment and time is created for you to decide how you respond. This is a game changer when emotions are involved.
You have to experience it to believe it. To experience it – you have to meditate!
If you are not acting from your frontal brain, there is a good chance you are sitting in the back brain where the stress response sits – the amygdala. If you are multi-tasking, getting stressed, sitting in overwhelm or feeling anxious, you are coming from the back brain. The more you act from this place, the more sensitive the amygdala becomes and the more easily you get stressed.
It’s a vicious cycle.
We need to be constantly building neural pathways to the front brain. We do this by practising mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness is keeping ourselves 100% in the present moment – mind and body. Instead, our bodies are in the present moment but our minds are either catastrophising about the future or commiserating about the past. That’s where anxiety and depression lies.
Meditation is only a habit and we just need to start!
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.
Viktor Frankl, Auschwitz survivor, Psychologist
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