Meditation is the act of giving your attention – being mindful – to only one thing.
A yoga asana practice, for example, is meditation in motion, where you focus on your breath and keeping a calm and steady mind during – sometimes challenging – asanas (poses) and the transitions between the asanas.
When we talk about meditation, we actually talk about concentration. You concentrate on one thing, for example the breath, in order to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.
Classical meditation can be quite challenging. You want to find a comfortable seated position in which you can stay motionless for 5 minutes or more.
Now that in itself is hard enough. Many people find it almost impossible to just sit and do absolutely nothing. In this world we live in we are used to being bombarded constantly with all kinds of impressions, sounds and images. And whenever we have a silent moment, we turn to our smartphone or television for distraction. It is only when we sleep that we are free from stimuli, until the alarm clock sounds the beginning of another busy day.
And then suddenly you are supposed to concentrate on your breath and not think about anything?
I have heard people say: “But I cannot stop thinking!”
Of course you cannot stop thinking. Meditating is not about trying to stop your thoughts, but about not engaging with, responding or reacting to your thoughts. Whenever a thought comes up, you try to only observe it as if from a distance. You try to let go of anything and everything that might distract you from concentrating.
You may think this sounds like hard work and wonder why you should even try all this sitting still and doing nothing and concentrating on your breath.
Well, it has been proven that practising meditation comes with many benefits for your mental and physical health.
It balances the nervous system and helps you deal with stress. It helps you regulate your emotions. By meditating you also influence and change your brainwaves.
You must know that your brain is a powerful tool. Your brain’s mindset has great influence on your physical and mental wellbeing.
Meditation helps you to control your emotions and your mind. When you have (more) control of your mind, you have more control of your life. You become calmer, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, increase your life span and the overall quality of your life.
Like most things in life, it takes practise to learn how to meditate.
Practise concentration and meditation will come.