For the last week or so, we’ve been discussing health as it relates to the physical body. But holistic health means that we take the entire being into account: mind, body, and spirit. Meditation is a daily practice that brings all three parts of the self together.
What is meditation? Meditation, as one of my mentors puts it, is a tool for rediscovering your body’s own inner intelligence. It’s a process of bringing the mind, body, and spirit together in harmony. For most of us in the Western World, it’s a way to quiet the mind, to bring shorts bursts of silence to the jumble of thoughts constantly running and recycling through our brains.
Even though meditation does focus on quieting the mind, it is not a process of forcing the mind to quiet down. It’s not about force or struggle of any kind. Quite the opposite: meditation is something that comes easily, effortlessly, and naturally…even if it might require practice in the beginning (that’s why we call it a meditation “practice”). When you meditate, you learn to find the silence and stillness that already exist within you and gradually bring them into your daily life.
Meditation has quite a long history. In fact, meditation has been practiced by people from many different cultures for thousands of years. In fact, all of the major religions have their versions of meditation. But don’t think for a moment that meditation is tied to religion. It’s practiced by monks and priests, but it’s also practiced worldwide by atheists and agnostics, men and women, children and adults, and pretty much any group you can think of. Even top athletes, world-class musicians, and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies use meditation as part of their strategy for health and success.
While most people have heard of meditation, everyone has a different idea of what it is and how it’s done. And for good reason: there are many different types of meditation. What’s the best kind of meditation? The kind you will do. It’s as simple as that. There is no one-size fits all for meditation, though it is true that certain types or styles of meditation are more efficient for certain outcomes. Guided meditations, for example, are excellent for things like healing and goal setting. We will discuss different types of meditation in future posts, but for now I’m offering a simple meditation you can try anytime and anywhere. No special preparation required. If you can close your eyes, you can meditate. Here goes:
- Sit comfortably in a quiet location where you will not be disturbed.
- Close your eyes and take a minute or so to quiet down a bit.
- For the next five minutes, simply notice the flow of your breath. Don’t try to control your breathing. Just notice it.
- After the five minutes has elapsed, take another minute before slowly opening your eyes and resuming your regular activity.
If you give that a try, you can begin to get a taste for what meditation is really like. Everyone will have a different response to this exercise, but most will find that their minds race uncontrollably. The answer to that? Surprise: it’s OK. It’s normal. I’ll be writing more about meditation, and we can delve more deeply into this one point, since it can be an entire post in itself.
Why meditate? Practicing meditation on a daily basis brings an unbelievable number of benefits. There are thousands of scientific studies which prove the physical benefits of meditation, and a regular meditation practice also nourishes the mind and spirit. Again, more detail about the benefits of meditation in future posts. I could write an entire book just on the benefits of meditation!
In closing, I suggest you give my quick little meditation a try. It will take less than 10 minutes and might give you a little more clarity during a hectic day.