By Taylor Ellison, Photo by Paige Newton.
Here’s the thing to remember about meditation, my friends. It’s not all chants and chimes. Meditation is a deep dive into the inner workings of your heart and mind. Through meditation, we explore the parts of ourselves where we’ve stuffed things down, suppressed emotions or held ourselves back. We venture into the places we’ve been keeping small, the things we aren’t proud of, and bring them into the light of our awareness to examine, heal and release. The process can be rigorous. The rewards are significant. As you cultivate this relationship with yourself, you gain freedom, lightness, a deeper sense of connection to your true nature. People often say that time heals all. I like to say that “time and the work” heal all. They go hand in hand.
In seasons of uncertainty and personal struggle, meditation has been my guiding light. Through meditation I learned to quiet the noise, to make peace with the parts of me that feel unsettled. I learned to turn inward instead of looking outside of myself for answers. Amid challenges, my time on the meditation mat is the one place I can go where I know I am safe. It is a place I practice loving myself unconditionally and forgiving myself fiercely.
But meditation is not exclusively a tool to help you weather tough times.
It is a tool to enhance your life in every sense of the word. It is a state of being where we sit with ourselves and get in touch with who we really are.
Meditation is a vehicle to cultivate radical gratitude. By disconnecting from life’s distractions, we are able to tune in to all of life’s riches. We go from doing to being. Release the need to achieve something and instead honor that our very existence is something to celebrate. We rest in the stillness and grace of each moment.
Better sleep, less anxiety, improved performance, JOY—practicing meditation has enormous benefits for your quality of life. It is a beautiful paradox that so much value can come from “doing” so little. Makes me wonder, why as humans do we make things so hard?
People tend to overcomplicate meditation
So remember to start small. Meditation is the practice of noticing our thoughts without the need to judge them, letting them come and go freely without fixating on one. We eventually find that desired mental stillness. But like any new activity, we do not achieve that state immediately. We have to stay with it, build a new spiritual muscle and exercise it.
It is helpful to recognize that our thoughts are inherently neutral. Thoughts do not have a positive or negative assigned to them. We assign emotions to our thoughts based on our personal perceptions of life. For example, you see the color yellow and are instantly reminded of sunflowers and sunshine, while someone else sees yellow and is reminded of pollen or corn to which they are allergic. We have our own unique perspectives that inform our assessment of any given thought. How empowering, that we get to decide how to respond to a thought instead of reacting to it. As we become aware of this we begin to move through life with more intention.
Start small, just a few minutes a day.
You can begin by simply taking a few deep breaths. As you breathe in, imagine you are inhaling pure love. As you breathe out, imagine you are exhaling fear. Place your awareness on the center of your chest, in your heart center, and take a few moments to imagine something for which you feel grateful. Let gratitude swell in your heart. Inhale and exhale deeply. Congrats! You just meditated. Nice work!
What might it look like to be kinder to yourself this month? What if you could take a few moments in meditation each week and give yourself grace? How might things change? How might your life change?
Here’s to your well-being and happiness this October. May you find meditation a trusty tool for your growth, gratitude and good health.
Read more Waiting Room segments on ATX Doctors.