How Meditation Improved My Life

presentMeditation is something that I’ve been practicing for about a year now. I started during my first semester studying abroad in Istanbul. I first began meditating for five minutes a day, then gradually increasing the time to ten minutes and eventually to twenty minutes. Twenty minutes is now my usual time, unless I am under an abnormal amount of stress, in which I will meditate longer.

I cannot say precisely what got me into meditation specifically, just that I was looking for an activity that could de-stress me and help me lead a more tranquil life. Before that I had been journaling as my primary means of detoxing. While journaling has its own set of benefits, and I haven’t forsaken the practice entirely, sometimes I would get wrapped up in writing about the same bad things over and over again without truly letting them go. However, with meditation I have learned to let go of the things that I cannot control and discovered the inner peace that I never knew was dwelling inside me.

meditation-quoteThe meditation I perform is what I can best describe as a hybrid of Christian and Eastern meditation. It certainly is not pure Eastern meditation in the traditional sense where one completely empty’s one’s mind, nor is it pure Christian meditation that focuses on a specific Biblical mantra. My variant of meditation does involve mantras, but they are simple, positive reaffirmations.

I begin each meditation session by playing some soothing music. Calming music is essential when I meditate. I cannot get into the zone otherwise. The sound of a flowing stream with the bamboo flute is a particular favorite of mine. Whenever I meditate I almost always used the music provided by the awesome YouTube channel, YellowBrickCinema. There they have an assortment of videos, from 15 minutes to eight hours that are meant for meditation, studying, relaxation and/or sleep.

meditation1With music in the background, I close my eyes and imagine all the negative energies from the day seeping out of my body. They take the form of a tar-like, gooey substance that flows from my body into the floor, then deep into the earth. If there is a specific problem that I am facing, I will imagine myself sitting at a desert oasis where a physical manifestation of the problem will sit at the opposite end of the oasis. The problem will then slowly turn to sand and disintegrate. This visualization helps to remind me that any challenge I encounter is never as bad as my worrisome mind attempts to portray it as.

Meditation has made me more reflective and self-aware of the negative thought patterns that I had developed over the years. It has helped me to silence my inner critic and to seize control over my reactions in ways I never thought possible back when I was stuck in a state of learned helplessness. As depressing as it made me feel, I had grown comfortable with the idea that I couldn’t control my external environment (which is true) and that I was powerless to control my emotional reaction to that external environment (which is absolutely not true). It took some serious soul-searching to realize that no, I did have a choice in the matter, that I could choose tranquility and happiness over bitterness  and resentment, regardless of what life threw at me.

Meditation is what saved me from a perpetual state of victimhood. By taking the time to focus on my mental well-being, I find myself much more at peace with the world. I no longer have to rely on external circumstances being perfect in order to achieve a sense of serenity. That can now be done by simply taking 20 minutes out of my day to remind myself what is truly important.

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