Benefits of Meditation: A Story of Overcoming the Monkey Mind
Yesterday I wrote a post about introducing meditation to kiddos. But I didn't mention why one would even want to meditate. There's lots of scientific research about the benefits of meditation (also called sitting practice)--just read Psychology Today's article 20 Reasons to Start Meditating Today.
But as a meditator of over 20 years, I thought I'd also share my journal entry from this morning about my personal experience of meditation:
One of the greatest lessons I've learned from sitting practice is the power of consistency. Whatever happens (or doesn't happen) during meditation isn't the point. The point is to be consistent. Sure, on a particular day sitting practice might feel relaxing, or I might have a powerful insight. But for the most part, the true power and benefit of meditation for me comes from consistent practice. Of course I go through periods where I'm not consistent. But when I am consistent, I sit whether I want to or not. Sitting doesn't depend on my mood or whim. It's a discipline. It's like the rising of the sun or the rhythm of the tides. Just as these natural forces are reliable, my sitting practice becomes reliable. In this way, I become reliable to myself. I can trust myself.
The trust I've gained in myself from meditation has been key to accomplishing the things I've set out to do in life. From getting my Master's degree to becoming a yoga therapist, even to having committed, loving relationships...I credit all of this to the trust cultivated during meditation. Along with trust, meditation has also taught me patience, persistence, surrender and a sense of humor.
Today when I sat for meditation, I really needed to remember this, because I was not feeling it! I was antsy, restless and distracted. Luckily, I've been meditating long enough that I knew I wouldn't quit. I could just sit and watch my crazy monkey mind. Again and again I brought my attention back to the present by saying "thinking" to myself every time my mind wandered (which was A LOT).
I haven't mentioned that I have a puppy who only recently has settled into meditation practice with me. Rex has stopped pawing at or climbing on me when I sit. However, he does use me as his personal lounge chair. And today I noticed that even though my mind was busy, my body must have been very still because Rex fell asleep on me. In fact, he was gently snoring on my lap. It was all I could do not to laugh, but it also showed me that I was more centered and calm than I realized.
Reflecting on this, I am grateful for the anchor that meditation provides for me, and those I love (including Rex). It adds ballast to my life as I ride the ups and down of starting a new business, Embodied Youth. It gives me shelter from the storm of my own emotions, such as doubt and disappointment when things don't go my way.
This is why I have dedicated my career to sharing the tools of mindfulness, meditation and yoga with others--especially kids and families. This is why I've started Embodied Youth. I know the these tools are built to last time. Once learned, they don't require money, and they can't be taken away. They're yours for life.