How Meditation Changes Your Life

Last week we talked about stillness and mindfulness. This week we’re going to focus on how mindfulness works in tandem with meditation to positively effect your daily life.

Mindfulness is one way of cultivating a meditative state.
There are many forms of meditation: sitting, lying down, moving, drawing, writing, breathing, chanting, creating, and so on. In my practice and workshops, we experience all these forms of meditation, and more. The two common threads present in all these forms of meditations are (1) dropping the “Monkey Mind” and (2) being in the moment.

Dropping the Monkey Mind
The Monkey Mind refers to the obsessive, compulsive currents of thoughts that race across our minds. They are called the Monkey Mind because, as the name suggests, they are restless and jumping. When we are in the throes of the Monkey Mind, it is as if we are tied up and dragged around by the monkey’s tail, pulled helplessly to places we don’t even wish to go. There is very little respite or inner quiet in that place. Meditation teaches us to disengage from the Monkey Mind and detach from its frantic pace. Slowly, we learn to free ourselves from its grip. Underneath the Monkey Mind lies the creative mind, and beneath that lies the Zen Mind, or the True Mind. The True Mind is still, accepting, and observing. It is nonreactive. It is peaceful. Needless to say, it is a great relief to abide in that mind. It is just that it takes practice and mindfulness to get there.

Being in the Moment
Being in the moment is the ability to be fully engaged and focused in the present moment, whether we are in the midst of an activity or at rest. When we are in the moment, we are enjoying, accepting, and flowing with what is. We all long to experience our moments and enjoy them, but hypnotized by a sense of urgency, we frequently forget how. We feel we must be [better, prettier, smarter], must do [more, less, different], must have [a bigger house, a nicer car, a new job], and everything needs to happen right now. We stress ourselves out, and many times overwhelm ourselves, with our lists of “musts.” It is difficult to simply smell the roses when we are jogging breathlessly on the treadmill of self-imposed, and at times unnecessary, expectations and demands. We long to live peacefully within our skin, challenging ourselves, but from a place of love and self-acceptance. We long to be, to breathe, to take in life, to smile with it, to gently flow and feel the rhythm of nature. Meditation helps us learn the art of being.

Don’t Resist the Moment
Why do we resist the moment? The simplest explanation is because we resist ourselves. I have heard this over and over from clients: “I don’t feel that I am good enough.” “I am not capable enough.” “I am not talented enough.” This sense of not being “enough” drives us in an unhealthy way to “fix” ourselves. The truth is that there is nothing “wrong” with us, other than thinking there’s something wrong and living with the continual fear and stress that this belief evokes. Yes, we all have lessons to learn and growing up to do, but that does not mean that there is something bad, missing, or wrong with us. We’re just human beings in progress. We are evolving. If we accept ourselves, lessons and all, we can accept others, and life. We can stop the fault-finding and the criticism that we torment ourselves with, and in so doing, we can stop the judgment we spill onto others, and life.

Self-acceptance is Key to Inner Peace and Relaxation
Mindfulness helps us accept the moment and what is. I remember thinking as a young person that accepting meant giving up. It took me a while to understand that it is quite the opposite. Acceptance is the courage to sit with what is and appreciate it. Out of that wisdom, right choices and right actions emerge.

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