Meditation is growing in popularity as a means of maintaining one’s overall well-being. But a lot of people are unsure about meditation, and that’s probably because they have some misconceptions about the practice.
I wrote about stress relief earlier and indeed, it’s incredibly important—not even Superman can be on duty all the time! But chilling out through meditation goes so much further than simple stress relief.
Meditation is about taking the time to dive into yourself and discovering your motivations for living. It’s about finding out who you are, really.
Bottom line: meditation can be more than just clearing your mind and chanting “om.” (TWEET THIS)
There are many ways to meditate. You might be surprised by the forms the practice can take.
The Truth About Meditation
First of all, let’s address the “empty mind” stereotype. Meditation has more to do with focusing on yourself, and paying attention to your inner workings, rather than trying to force your mind to be empty.
Meditation helps you peel away the distractions of the world to re-center on yourself. Even just sitting alone in a quiet place and reflecting on memories qualifies!
Have you ever lost yourself in a task such as gardening, reading, woodworking, painting, or even your work? Then you have experienced a kind of meditation.
Have you ever been so focused on something that your mind was freed from the many internal and external distractions of everyday life? You may have even experienced spontaneous thoughts about aspects of your life you hadn’t considered before. This means the task at hand became a type of meditation.
Ultimately, if you ever do reach an “empty mind” state, it’s usually an indirect result of focusing on an individual task and, by connection, yourself.
Going Beyond Traditional Meditation
Sitting in a lotus position and doing a deep inner dive, complete with deep breaths, is all well and good. But as stated above, there are a multitude of meditative practices you’ve no doubt already used:
Music: The resurgence of vinyl is well underway, and offers an opportunity for some music enjoyment zen! The act of seeking out and buying old albums could be a meditative trip in and of itself, and invites the chance to meet with cool, like-minded people.
Listening to your records can be an intense experience. The crackle and pop of the needle, and the warm tones of the music that you just don’t get from a CD or streamed music, can be very meditative. Put on an album, kick back on a couch, and drift into the notes for a while. The experience can be amplified by listening to concept albums from bands like Alan Parsons Project, Emerson Lake and Palmer, or more recent artists like Mars Volta.
Sports: The physical and mental challenges of sports can also be meditative. An obvious choice might be golfing; for some, it’s a proven way to chill out. If you want to give it a try, grab some decently priced equipment online from the likes of golfbagshub.com and get out on the green!
Gaming: Don’t brush it off as just for nerds. There’s been a lot of talk about the positive effects of the gamification of daily life. But some good-old-fashioned video gaming can send you into a meditative state of extreme focus.
There is some definite stress relief that stem from cooperative shooter games, where you and some human squadmates to capture objectives and achieve victory. And as counter-intuitive as it may seem, you can even get some relief from the intense horror experiences of games like Resident Evil 7 and The Last of Us, where the feeling of atmospheric dread and award-worthy storytelling conspire to focus your mind on your straining senses and pounding heart!
Reading: Sitting down with a good book (paper or electronic) combines meditative focus and the potential for a learning experience. You can read some “escapist” fiction or delve into the classics. Or you can increase your skills and knowledge with how-to and personal development titles.
The Democracy of Mindfulness
I really want to emphasize the fact that mindfulness isn’t just for “zen masters.” It’s beneficial for everyone, no matter their education level, job, or economic situation.
Everyone, no matter their lifestyle, has stress they experience on a regular basis. Everyone needs to release the pressure, somehow.
People from all walks of life should explore the mindfulness movement. It’s a deeply human activity, one that is as necessary to overall health and wellness as eating right and exercising.
Some sort of meditation should be a part of everyone’s routine. It’s time to demystify it and show people how they’re already doing it!
Remember: real enlightenment is self enlightenment. So take some time (even just a few minutes) every day to do your own meditation thing!
A version of this post was previously published on livethehero.com and is republished here with permission from the author.
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