Meditation: Cross-training for Happiness
Current research in neuroscience and psychotherapy is validating what ancient wisdom has known all along: the wellness benefits of cultivating a practice of greater Self-awareness, and the value of being over doing. We feel happier when we can freely flow in the moment, being totally available to our present experience and not caught up in self-conscious thoughts. Meditation helps train the brain to do just that. Mindfulness Meditation:
trains your brain to enter into states of low anxiety and to raise the threshold for anxiety that overwhelms you.
you get to experience a meta-awareness of your psyche (your thoughts, feelings, and experiences), which greatly enhances the process of personal development / therapy / Life, through this “working out” of your self-reflection muscle.
an enhanced capacity for self-reflection means a greater ability to make conscious choices rather than act from unconscious habits: perhaps the single most direct path to greater ease and flow in life.
learning to drop into an awareness beyond “mind chatter” helps you to contact your intuition, that gut feeling that knows what is best for you.
Try This At Home! Set aside five minutes for an undisturbed experiment.
Find a comfortable place to lay or sit. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths, letting your body relax more with each breath. It could be beneficial to start with a 3-part scan of your present state: starting with your body, noticing places of tension and relaxation; then your emotions, noticing feeling states present at the moment; and your mind, noticing what thoughts are present at the moment (all throughout this experiment, just notice and perhaps name what you notice, don't try to change any of it). Whenever you notice your mind get hooked into thoughts (often showing up as worries, or planning your day), gently bring your awareness back to your breath, reminding yourself that the only thing you have to do in this moment is to take one breath. The goal of meditation is not to never have a thought pop up, but to learn how to compassionately observe yourself and lovingly be with the fullness of your human experience (to kinda stay on an observation platform and not fall into fully identifying with the monkey mind). If you notice a lot of thoughts, then hooray! You're peering through an inner window, witnessing the thought-creation-function of your own mind! Meditation is like the mental weight training that will enable you to have conscious control over your thoughts! Instead of negative thought loops running wild in your unconscious, you'll be able to witness them and actually have the power to put the brakes on them, question them, and steer them in a positive direction, creating a completely different feeling state within your being! In this overstimulated workaholic culture, we rarely give ourselves even five minutes to just be and not have to do anything. Try it for a few days and see what happens! Then, see what magic happens when you try this for twenty minutes... or an hour... ☺