Meditation – The Ultimate Self Care
I was stumbling through university with a persistent lack of inspiration plaguing my every class when I discovered the art of meditation. A classmate invited me one day after school and eager to escape the drudgery of economics, I obliged.
It was all a little strange at first, I found myself sitting in silence for an hour in a dim lit room alongside a handful other meditators. My mind came alive with thoughts of suspicion, “What is the meaning of this? Why do I have to close my eyes?” I kept peaking to see what strange magic was happening to the others but zilch. They all just sat there like Buddha Statues. I was bored. The bulk of my prior conditioning had taught me that life was about thought, expression and activity. My ideas of meditation had included images of wizened Chinese masters revealing secrets of levitation and immortality. Observing my breathe for a full hour is not what I had signed up for.
However, by the end of the session I had discovered that my mind was a wild monkey that just wouldn’t shut up even for a moment. I hadn’t succeeded in ceding all thoughts even for one minute! If I couldn’t control my thoughts, then who was? Were my thoughts controlling me? Realizing my powerlessness against my own mind set me squarely on the path to self-realization. Soon after, I attended my first Vipassana retreat – a residential meditation boot camp during which one remains silent and meditates several hours each day for 10 days!
As I continued to meditate, I started to realize that my breathe was my wizened Chinese master. Though herculean at first, I found that the longer I anchored my attention to breathing, it would get softer and my mind quieter in tandem. In these calm spaces, hitherto hidden tensions in the body and mind would finally emerge and gradually ebb away. I discovered that my emotional stress hid itself inside my body and mind in the form of unpleasant feelings and would continue to burden me subconsciously even after the stressful moments had passed. Meditation helped me release these unhealed traumas.
Having now cultivated a strong meditation practice over several years, many shifts have occurred that have altered the course of my life. My choices are more altruistic and less self-centered. While this may seem counter intuitive in a capitalistic society, I find that the less I hold on to, the more contentment I have and that the more joy and happiness I give, the more I receive. What matters is not so much how I am perceived by others or what material “pleasures” I have access to but how beautiful and stable my inner state is.
There are many healing and meditation techniques, each with unique benefits. Whatever practice you choose, find one that that allows you to discover your own power to heal and awaken yourself. The answers inside you, any unsatisfactory situation in your life is connected to your inner state and by learning to navigate these inner worlds you can bring more peace and happiness to yourself and to others.
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