Do you categorize meditation as one of those tasks you really should get around to, but never actually do? Do you see it as something that only “ultra-spiritual” people pursue? If so, you’re not alone.
Many people have heard about the tremendous mind body health and wellness benefits of meditation, but they don’t take the plunge and practice. Why?
What is Mindful Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is a western, non-sectarian, research-based form of meditation derived from a 2,500 year old Buddhist practice called Vipassana or Insight Meditation. It is a form of meditation designed to develop the skill of paying attention to our inner and outer experiences with acceptance, patience, and compassion.
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing one's attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation.
Why don't more people practice mindful meditation?
For some, it’s simply difficult to slow down. Our hurry-up culture trains us to be more and more “productive,” and thus, some feel that things like rest and meditation are wasting time.
Additionally, many people give up before realizing the benefits of meditation, which build with time and practice. For others, the silence requires getting deep with their thoughts and feelings… and that can feel threatening.
What is the Purpose of Meditation?
When you give yourself the opportunity to meditate, internal struggles can give way to a profound peace. However, when you first slow down and tune in to yourself, you may experience a lot of chaotic chatter. That’s completely normal, so don’t let it deter you.
With time and practice, you can learn to calm your mind and emotions. In fact, getting into the rhythm of your breathing can bring you back to Source. If you return to meditation and silence often enough, you will learn some profound truths about your own life.
In meditation, you often come face-to-face with yourself, and what happens next is telling. Do you like yourself? Do you know who you really are? Do you have a sense of purpose?
In the silence, you discover who you really are.
Are you able to simply be and appreciate the life you were given? Do your thoughts wander to projects left undone? Are you focused on the past or future? As thoughts emerge, you receive valuable information about yourself.
If you haven’t worked through your day to day issues, partially processed thoughts will bubble up from your subconscious. This is an invitation to clear up your own “unfinished business” and free your mind from clutter.
Common Resistance to Meditation and Mind Body Health
You may have difficulty making the decision to “do nothing” and meditate in the first place. Cultural conditioning tells you that hard work is the only way to succeed, and as such, you resist the idea of sitting still.
Even devoting 15 minutes a day to meditation may seem overwhelming for you.
If so, start smaller.
Dare yourself to spend 5 minutes in stillness, and see what happens. If it helps, you can reframe meditation as a personal development challenge.
"For a type A personality, it is not hard to push oneself hard. Pushing oneself to the limit is easy! The real challenge for the person who thrives on challenge is not to work hard.”
-- Greg McKeown in his psychological bestseller Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Healing Potential of Silence and Meditation
Silence is a powerful healing tool. When you meditate, material from your past will present itself and give you an opportunity to apply love to the hurt.
Whether the thoughts are based on regrets, people who have harmed you, or people whom you’ve harmed, working through the turmoil takes commitment.
Fortunately, in the silence we are safe.
There is no past and no future; it is simply a slice of the present. The past is history, the future a mystery, but now is the gift and that is why it is called ‘the present.’
Consider the silence a present from God.
Psychosynthesis: Hearing God Within
According to psychosynthesis - a spiritually-based psychological approach - we are all created in the image of God.
We have God’s image inside of us. And when we slow down, connect to ourselves in the present, and operate from that place, God speaks.
The flip side of silence is turmoil.
In the turmoil there is no peace, and the voice of God is drowned out. We are disconnected from ourselves and reactive to life. When we’re stressed and separated from God, we try to protect ourselves from others.
In the turmoil our emotions unravel and our bodies break down. We become weak, literally and figuratively.
Renowned neuroscientist Candace Pert won a Nobel Peace Prize for proving that when humans operate from a positive, loving place, our brains secrete peptides that enhance our immune systems.
This makes us stronger, and it can even slow and reverse the aging process. Cultivating joy and peacefulness have proven health benefits!
Practicing Silence for Mind Body Health
For the next few minutes, take an opportunity to sit in silence and focus on everything that brings you joy.
To start, turn off any electronics, sit in a comfortable seat, and simply focus on your breath.
Once you have calmed yourself, bring to mind people, experiences, or things that make you happy one by one. You might think about a child, a pet, a flower, or hiking in the woods.
Surround yourself with feelings of joy and allow them to build within.
If you continually face turmoil while sitting in the silence, free-form writing can help. Free-form writing is simply putting pen to paper and writing whatever comes to mind.
When you do this, stay with the flow. Don’t judge what is coming out. Just write down whatever you want and purge it out.
When you’re done, shred and / or burn what you’ve written.
Do not re-read or evaluate your words.
Instead, appreciate the way that writing helps you to release that which is just beneath the level of your conscious awareness.
Savor the Gifts of Silence
In silence, time seems to slow down.
With no distractions, you can hear your breath, your heartbeat, even God’s guidance. When you allow yourself to slow down, you connect with who you are; you return home.
If you have a hectic schedule and juggle the demands of work and family, silence can be a key to sanity and a balm for relationships. After all, how you are with yourself is how you are with others too!
In the silence, you nurture your connection to yourself and to God. You connect with the image of God that is within. When you operate from that place, you are complete.
You are at peace, your body is healthier, and you find happiness. And as you share that energy with others, you give them permission to do the same.
Mind Body Health Connection to Addiction Recovery
Can meditation / silence and mind body therapy help treat addiction? Absolutely!
Most addictive behavior like substance abuse or eating disorders are related to underlying mental or emotional issues. Unless those underlying causes are addressed, relapse is much more likely.
What is required is a holistic treatment approach that addresses all four levels of self—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—in order to create alignment and a new status quo.
Learn more about underlying core issues and how they relate to healing addiction.