What is Meditation

What is Meditation?

What is MeditationMeditation is probably not what you think it is!  If I say the phrase “meditation for beginners,” what is the first thing that comes to your mind?  Typical answers that I’ve heard over the years are:

  • New age stuff.
  • Someone sitting cross-legged with a shaved head and an orange robe.
  • Some eastern spiritual practice.
  • Someone levitating!
  • What Rafiki was doing in The Lion King!
  • I did it at the end of my yoga class once…

In other words, there are many misconceptions about what meditation is but most of them come from movies, statues, books, and on some occasions, from someone who actually practices.  But like anything in this world, you have to experience mindfulness training in order to understand what it is.

First of all, why should you care what meditation is? Let’s explore.

Before I talk about what meditation is, I want to talk about what meditation is not.  A great quote that I find myself constantly referring to when I am asked about meditation is, “Meditation is not what you think!”  Thinking is an act performed by the mind that will go on forever if left unchecked.  In fact, when is the last time that you stopped thinking?  Or were aware of a break in your stream of thoughts?  I know that before my years of meditation, my answer would have been, “No idea.”

I used to think that consistently thinking and having non-stop activity in my mind was natural and normal.  Normal… perhaps, if becoming more and more restless as a society due to the increase of technology sparking a new lifestyle counts.  Between social media, new apps, the constant stream of music, texts, emails, phone calls, TV, movies, and general surfing of the net, our minds are going a mile a minute and we actually think this is normal.  Not to mention finding and balancing a job/career, family, friends, exercise, normal everyday life, and oh, did I mention Facebook?

It’s no wonder that the stress levels are at an all time high, which in turn triggers a full checklist of negative side effects physically, emotionally, cognitively, and behaviorally.  One of which is that the anxiety levels go through the roof, which in turn causes higher risk of heart disease and other serious health risks, (Harlapur).  Don’t be fooled, just because this is becoming a larger problem and is affecting more people, doesn’t make it normal.

To learn about how to overcome the relentless restlessness that is consuming our society, read the second part of this blog, Meditation – It Has the Power to Change Your Life for the Better!

 

Citation:

Harlapur, Manjunath, and Daichi Shimbo. “Anxiety and Heart Disease.” In Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine, pp. 108-111. Springer New York, 2013.

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