Most of us have daily bathing rituals for our bodies. We brush our teeth, we wash our faces, we throw water on our armpits in the bathroom sink, and so on. There is usually some form of sanitary ceremony performed every day of our lives because we have the collective understanding that if you don’t clean your body, there will be negative consequences. At first you would smell, but if you go for too long, you could experience serious infections.
Hygiene is a huge part of overall health and self-care. So what makes our brains any different? We should be washing our minds just as often as we do our crotches.
Meditation is one of the most effective ways to cleanse your mind. It is a sacred space that provides the opportunity to sit with yourself, your thoughts, your higher being, and just be. Be in the moment. Connect to the universe. Watch the cosmos. Feel the oneness. And maybe wonder what you are going to eat for dinner and if you should change your voicemail to something witty, yet not trying too hard.
Five years ago I made the commitment to meditate twice a day everyday. This way I could wash my mind of the sleep state when I woke up, and then wash my mind of the chaos of my day before I went to bed. Even if I woke up late and only had a few minutes in the morning, or was insanely tired at night, I would still sit for at least five minutes. No matter what, I always have five minutes.
It is not easy to exist in that still space when so much of life is cluttered with commotion. Many people are apprehensive of even trying to mediate because they think they think too much. But guess what? We all think too much. That is being human. I bet there is a Buddhist Monk right now meditating in a cave, and between moments of pure enlightenment is wondering if he remembered to DVR The Real Housewives of the Himalayas.
What Holds You Back From Meditating
Often people have a real resistance to a mediation practice. For years I would avoid the topic when my fellow yogis would suggest it. I would say to myself that I already meditate in yoga class when the teacher makes me. Isn’t that good enough? Something was holding me back, and it took me a long time to admit that I was my greatest obstruction to a more mentally balanced existence.
It is not as if meditating will make your life better, but it does drastically improve the way you react to it. Every day we face challenges, whether trivial or extreme, so having greater control and connection to your thoughts will help keep you self-possessed. When we let our minds wander without intention, we often take ourselves down an ugly path. We obsess about our ex who didn’t want to be with us, or fixate on our flaws and all the ways in which we have failed.
Meditation helps connect you to the awareness that we do have control over our own minds. It is not
someone else thinking about how everyone can hold a handstand longer than me, it is me thinking that – and I actually don’t have to!
I have a choice, and I can choose not to think about thoughts that don’t serve me.
It may feel daunting and even scary to get started, which is why I highly suggest going to a retreat to kick-start a practice. It can be for one day, one weekend, or one week - but taking the time to learn a technique and begin the training of your mind will help make meditation a part of your life.
Getting into the habit of meditating is the most important first step. Once you make something part of your routine, it is easier to stay committed. Just as if you don’t brush your mouth in the morning, your teeth will feel fuzzy, you will notice that your mind is coated with mental plaque until you clean it with some quiet.