Meditation may not be what you think
Meditation can be a spiritual ritual, but it's more effective to treat it as a practical physical and mental tool. Still the picture persists.
A brief Google Search for images revealed thousands similar to the one below. When you think in your mind of meditation, you envision this, right? Why?
The picture would better capture meditation if it were blank. The meditation is what you do not see within the woman's subjective experience. The hokey Buddhist statuary, the expensive yoga mat and pad, and what the hell? Is that a canoe in the background? The woman is a vision of expensive discomfort rather than peace. This is Ikea and McDonald's yoga.
Towards clarity in meditation
Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.
No, Merriam-Webster's definition of meditation is sufficiently simple (one might even cut post-colon):
to focus one's thoughts on: reflect on or ponder over.
The essence of meditation
Meditating on the fly: Worktime empowerment
Set some meditation goals
- Determine what you want to accomplish through meditation. For me it is peace, clarity, and focus, but your motivation might be different. Write these goals down. Do you want to reduce stress? Get rid of tension headaches? Control anger? You be the judge.
- With some practice, determine how much meditation your goals require. Be free here in deciding, because nobody even needs to know that you are meditating. I want to meditate 5 minutes every hour to regain focus and clarity. Maybe that is too much for you. Adapt to your needs and determine frequency and duration. Write this down as well.
- If you work at a computer, you can set sweet timers that will remind you when it's time. If not, you can use a phone or watch timer. After you are practiced, you won't need a timer at all.
- Make conditions as quiet as possible, but silence is not essential.
- Try to ensure that you won't be interrupted in your brief sessions (silence phones, messaging, etc.)
- I'll use the example of sitting in your desk chair. When you meditate, all that is needed is to push back a little from your desk, rest your arms comfortably in your lap, and close your eyes. Keep your back comfortably erect as well as your neck. You'll need to practice to find your proper balance. You can do this and be totally inconspicuous (to coworkers).
- Initiate the session by taking three slow, deep breaths. This will automatically begin to relax your body. Pay attention to the way your body feels as it relaxes.
- Next, breathe at a fairly slow, but normal pace. With each breath you will relax more and more, but don't fall asleep. Become conscious of your thoughts as they pass through your mind.
- Treat the thoughts that come to your mind as if you were an objective observer from the outside. Watch the thought float in, like a movie, and watch the thought float away. This is the essence of meditation, in this moment, and even if it is only five minutes, it will totally change your day.
- If you find yourself holding on to a thought, dwelling on it, don't be concerned. Just use your power as an objective viewer to watch it float by. If you notice your shoulders are tense relax them.
- At first you may want to set a timer in case you fall asleep, but once you are practiced you will have no need for one. Sleeping is not one of your goals.
One of the exciting things for me is that this is only one form of simple meditation. You can meditate through sight by focusing on a small object and clearing your mind of all else. You can stand at the water cooler, take a cool sip, a few deep breaths, and feel the power that comes as your mind relaxes.
Use your imagination to find brief moments throughout the day to superpower your mind and body.
A skeptical clarification
Propelled by technological breakthroughs in neuroscience enabling researchers to monitor brain activity, the medical community is awash in studies showing that meditating has beneficial physical effects on the brain. Those studies are being joined by others demonstrating that advantages include everything from raising the effectiveness of flu vaccines to lowering rejection rates for organ transplants.
I view myself as a scientist at heart and perhaps fail make distinctions between what version of science I am discussing. I make no claims beyond what I state, and I wait for science to validate or invalidate other claims of pseudoscience and pop-science.
I do not for a moment believe that meditation can help you hang onto an organ transplant.
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- Many scientists believe humans are growing dumber: Here's why they are wrong
Let us know what you think about meditation and how you maximize focus. IF you found this useful, share the love.
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