Benefits of Meditation
Over a year ago I started experimenting with meditation. Initially, I had no idea what I was doing. I would sit on the floor cross-legged and listening to calming music. After starting this, I listened to an audiobook by Phil Jackson called Eleven Rings. Jackson is a retired basketball player and coach. He is most known for coaching Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant during their championship runs. Jackson is a basketball genus and meditation is a big part of his life. Jackson regularly used Zen meditation in his coaching to help calm and connect his players.
Before discovering this book, I looked at meditation as just a way to relax. I never saw a direct purpose in meditation. In Eleven Rings, Jackson details his process for meditation and how he uses Zen Buddhist practices. Zen mediation focuses on awareness, which is ideal for team sports where you must be aware of your surroundings. In mindfulness meditation (which I practice) you focus on one specific object. If your mind deviates you take note of the thought and return to focusing on breathing.
After discovering Jackson’s book, which I would recommend any sports fan. I started my own research into meditation. I learned about the benefits of meditation and how it can improve you mind. I think many people associate meditation with Buddhism and that turns people away from the practice. But meditation does not have to represent any religion, it can just be a practice to improve your mindset.
All five of the major religions practice some sort of meditation. I grew up practicing Catholicism, and I never realized that meditation was part of my life from an early age. When praying either privately or with others, it is a form of transcendental meditation. Which is basically the repetition of a word, phrase, or prayer in your mind. There is no doubt that in prayer you are meditating in a religious or spiritual way, but it is meditation. Although, organized religion is not something I find beneficial for me and I have always looked at spirituality, as internal and private.
I did not practice meditation long enough to make it a habit. But I then found a book by Ed Hanczaryk called The Guru in Your Golf Swing. Hanczaryk is a local golf instructor in Nova Scotia and also specializes in mindfulness meditation. I picked up his book because I got serious about golf and started playing on a regular basis. Not only did Hanczaryk’s book teach about the golf swing, it also taught about practicing mindfulness meditation.
I used Hanczaryk’s techniques to practice meditation, but I did not commit. I have always found my mind to work best in the morning. When I started rising early to exercise, I implemented meditation into my routine. After finishing my last exercise, I sit on the floor cross-legged and practice Ed Hanczaryk’s meditation techniques. After some practice was able to steady and focus my mind on a task.
I decided to make a short list of the benefits meditation can have in your life. Mediation does not work for everyone. Some people find the act of meditation to be completely useless. Tony Robbins the famous self-help expert said that meditation has no benefits for him. Robbins developed his own form of meditation that combines breathing exercises, expressing gratitude, experiencing connection, and visualizing success. If you would like to learn more on Tony Robbins morning routine, Google Tony Robins “priming” and you will find several articles. I found one from Business Insider that was very interesting. Even though Robbins does not practice meditation, he still exercises his mind.
The mind is like any muscle in the body, if not exercised it grows weak. You need to think of your mind like your bicep, if you don’t exercise your biceps, they grow weak and unhealthy. One of the best ways to exercise you mind is though mindfulness and other forms of meditation. Another way to exercise your mind is through reading and learning. Reading and learning can challenge and take your mind to different place. But let us get into the benefits of meditation.
Benefits of Meditation:
Sense of calm: Does the act of meditation make you calm. I’m not sure if it does but what I do know is mediation allows you steady and focus your thoughts. When your mind is wondering, you are not experiencing a sense of calm. As humans we are pledged with self-doubt and anxiety. I think this has increased since the introduction of social media and the internet in our culture. We are constantly thinking about what other are doing and what they are thinking about us. By just sitting for a few minutes a day and following our breaths this may give you a sense of calm that will carry through your day.
Focus: Mindfulness meditation is the form of meditation that I practice. The main objective of this practice is to increase your focus. Mindfulness improves focus, which in turn increases your production levels. The goal of mindfulness mediation is to push you toward “flow” state. This is when you are concentrating on a task and not allowing you mind to deviate to other areas. Star athletics experience this, Tiger Wood was in the “flow” state when he played the best round of golf ever in the 2000 US Open. Wood’s defeated the field by 15 strokes to win the tournament. In golf it is difficult to keep your mind focused and on the task. Wood’s mother raised him as a Tia Buddhist and he regularly attended temple with her. Practicing meditation from a young age may have helped Tiger to develop a laser focus, pushing his golf game to new heights.
Understanding emotions: Another thing I use meditation for is to understand my emotions. Whenever I get angary or upset, I ask myself where this emotion is coming from. I feel if I can understand the source of the emotion, I can control them. You cannot stop emotions from occurring; you will always feel fear, anger, and anxiety. But meditation will help you understand these emotions and not be a victim to them. When an emotion occurs, the process should be to observe, respond, and then react. If we just react, we become controlled by our emotions.
Reduce stress: After I finish a meditation session, I feel like all the weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It is the one time in my day where I sit and actually be still. From work (the job that pays my bills), to growing a website and Instagram account, and working at getting better at writing. My day is busy from waking up until I go to bed. Although, I do not think this is a bad thing. I am pushing to achieve my goals, but meditation helps me keep everything into perspective. The stresses of life don’t seem bad when you appreciate the important things. All that truly matters is family and happiness. Meditation can help you feel grateful for these things which in turn reduce stress.
Happiness: I read that we are all have a preconceived level of happiness. Happiness is actually based on our genetics and not our external surroundings. Happiness is actually internal and not external, who would have thought! There is a great article by Georgina Berbari on “Why Meditation Makes You Happy, According to Science” which basically describes the same idea. Meditation can actually change your brain; happy people’s brains have a more active frontal cortex. In a study conducted by Sara Lamar which performed brain scans after people learned to mediate. Lamar noticed a reduction in the size of their amygdala, the part of the brain that controls fear and anxiety. In turn making a person happier through meditation.
I should note that I accompany meditation with journaling. First, I meditated focusing my mind, then I journal getting my random thoughts on paper. I think both these things help to center my mind. Hopefully, this post helps you start a meditation habit in your life! If you are interested in reading more from me subscribe to my blog or look me up on Instagram @the_52_book_challenge. Check back next week for my next blog post!