Meditation is a simple mental focus exercise that can have powerful effects in your daily life. Personally, it’s increased my awareness of the thoughts and emotions I experience and improved my ability to choose how I respond to situations in life, rather than react unconsciously. When I’ve had a consistent practice of meditation, it’s also reduced stress and anxiety, increased my compassion for others, and improved my relationships and physical well-being. No wonder it’s becoming more mainstream in the Western world!
Many people resist meditation because of its (unnecessary) association with religious or mystical beliefs, or because they have an image of long hours in uncomfortable postures repeating strange sounds. In this video, I want to shatter that image of meditation and teach it as the simple and helpful inner practice that it is.
I hope that after watching, you’ll have an idea about some of the basics of meditation, including:
Posture: You may choose to sit, stand, or even lie down in meditation. You can do what works for you.
Environment: Much like posture, there is no right or wrong place to practice mediation. Quiet places may help focus your mind when you’re first getting started, but you can meditate anywhere.
Practice/Method: Choose a focus point for your meditation practice. It could be your breath, a sound, or a particular phrase you repeat in your mind. Remember, the point of meditation is not to completely stop all thoughts from entering your mind; instead, accept those thoughts and continually work to refocus your concentration.
Creating a Habit: Meditation does require some practice to reap the benefits. Fortunately, there are many tools out there to help you get started, including mobile apps and several great books.
Listen to the audio:
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Hi I’m Brandon Pearce. Today I want to talk to you about meditation – and really about demystifying meditation.
I think often meditation is seen as a very religious or spiritual practice. While it can be, I think at its core, meditation is just a mental focus exercise to help train your mind to step back from your thoughts, your emotions, and the things going on in your body. And to be able to witness those and become more aware of your own ability to choose how to respond to those things.
Meditation can have a great affect on your life. It’s been studied by hundreds of studies and science shows that meditation is very beneficial for the brain and the body. Meditation is great for the way that it relaxes you and helps with stress and relationships.
Many CEO’s are now putting meditation practices in place in their business. I think it is a very helpful tool to become better equipped to handle the daily stresses of life and appreciate what is going on around me.
I know that when I’ve had a consistent meditation practice, it’s made a big difference in my relaxation level and my ability to connect to people, rather than just being driven by whatever is going on in my subconscious or in my body.
Today, I just want to go over some of the basics of meditation to give you an idea of how it can be done. There is no right or wrong way, I believe, to do it. You can practice and find out what works well for you.
First, let’s talk about posture. There is no correct way to have a meditation posture. Many people like to sit cross-legged like I am. But you can also kick back. You can sit in a chair. You can lean back. You can lay down. You can even meditate while you are walking or while you’re driving (preferably not with your eyes closed).
There really is not any right or wrong way to meditate. As I said, it is a mental exercise. Certain postures, you may find, help you to better tune in to what’s going on and what you want to focus on or may help with how you breathe and different thing like that, which we will talk about soon.
Meditation posture is irrelevant.
Next is your environment. Now I am sitting here in this beautiful bale at my house in Bali with the jungle and the bird sounds. It’s very beautiful.
But most of the time, honestly, I am just meditating up in my office. And that works too. Like with posture, there is no right or wrong, or better or worse location for meditation. You can meditate in the middle of a noisy, chaotic environment. In fact, if you can, kudos to you because it shows you are practicing in more difficult places.
I think if you choose a quiet spot with less distraction, in some ways it can help you become more aware of what is going on inside you, rather than what is going on around you. Both environments are important to be able to let pass through your experience; to not be taken by them but be able to witness them.
Let’s talk about the practice of meditation itself.
Meditation, as I mentioned, is a mental focus exercise. In meditation, you would usually choose a focus point. It could be your breath. As you breathe in and breathe out you will focus on the sensations of the air going in and out of your lungs and through your nose or mouth. When you notice a thought or notice yourself getting into a story, or noticing a sound or getting distracted, just bring your attention back to your breath.
And there are so many ways to breathe. You can breathe quickly, slowly, deeply or shallow. You can breathe through your nose or through your mouth. You can hold your breath in different places – at the top or the bottom of your breath. You can hold your breath in different ways – consistently smooth with no pause between inhale and exhale. You can do a long inhale and a quick exhale (or vice versa). There are so many variations. You can practice and see how they affect you. But again, it doesn’t matter. You can play around.
Besides the breath, you can also choose to focus on a word or a phrase that you repeat inside your mind or with your mouth over and over again, and just bring your attention back to that. Some religions will use a mantra or a verse. You could just use some nonsense syllable even or a sound to bring yourself back to that.
Lately, I’ve personally been using phrases in my own language. Just things that I want to work on and bring more into my life. Lately, I have been repeating the phrase “I love my life.” There are a few ways to bring the phrase in. Sometimes I will just think “I love my life,” as I breathe in and I breathe out.
Or sometimes I will take one word at a time: I (breathe in), love (breathe out), my (breathe in), life (breathe out). And I’ll repeat that over and over again.
The reason that I like that is because it not only gives me something to focus on, but I find the phrase itself and the focus on the intention of loving my life really does help me to love my life more. It also helps me to be more aware of the things that are going well that I want to remember. I enjoy doing that.
I’ve tried so many different things and they all work for me and I try them at different times. You can find out what works for you, too, just by trying it out.
As you meditate, you may find yourself getting distracted – you start thinking about some experience in your past or worrying about something in your future. You may notice and think, “Oh wait, I’m thinking about the past,” or “I’m thinking about the future.” Remember, the point is to just bring it back to what you intended to focus on. Try to keep your focus there.
There is a tendency, for me anyway, when I catch myself getting caught in thought to think that I messed up or I’m doing meditation wrong. Actually, the act of catching yourself is where you succeed, because the more you can recognize it during your meditation practice, the more you will be able to recognize it in your daily life. You’ll be able to not get so caught up in the situations that happen and have more control over how you choose to respond to those situations.
One other use of meditation is as a tool for emotional integration. If you experience, for example, a big wave of sadness come up as you meditate – maybe you are thinking about something in the past that you know that you regret or that was sad. In your meditation practice, rather than going into the story of what happened or how this was so traumatic, be able to let that go or at least let it just be there, and focus more on the sensation in your body. Is the sadness a sagging feeling in your heart? Is it a twisting? What does it feel like? Just focus on that without going into the stories and bring it back to the sensation in your body.
I’ve found that doing that can be very powerful for transforming some of those emotions and moving through them in a way that feels liberating.
Sometimes when you’re meditating there will be sounds in your environment. Right now there is some construction noise going on nearby and some men shouting. If I were meditating here, I could just choose to go to a different spot where it’s quieter.
But I can also just practice having those sounds in my background and not letting them irk me, or if they irk me just being with that “irkness” and being okay with that and letting that be there, but choosing not to react.
That’s an example of how meditation can be done in various circumstances and used as a daily practice in your life, as well.
I think one of the reasons that meditation is seen as a spiritual practice is because most of the time we’re so caught up in our thoughts and emotions that when you take a few moments and you really have the experience of stepping back from your thoughts and realizing that…
“Wow. I’m not my thoughts. I’m not my emotions. I’m not my body. I don’t have to be controlled by any of these things and I can choose.”
It’s a really empowering and moving experience.
I could call that spiritual because it can have such an affect on your own sense of who you are, your sense of identity, and in how you relate to others. I notice that when I see other people getting angry or caught up in their emotions, I can have more compassion for them because I do the same thing. I notice how difficult it is for me sometimes to recognize what emotions are going on within me and how I choose to respond to them.
It’s not easy to do it, but it’s part of the human experience. It’s something we all have to deal with. I think it shows me my humanity more fully and it helps me to appreciate that in others.
Creating a Habit
Meditation does require some practice in order to really reap the benefits. You may find that after doing it for a minute a day that it could really relax you. But as you do it more frequently, you will find that just like anything that you practice, it will become easier and easier to put into practice and life.
If you do want to develop a habit of meditation, I actually recommend starting small. Maybe after you shower or brushing your teeth, just sit for one minute, choose your focus point, and just practice bringing your attention back to it for one minute. Set a timer.
Then the next day, or after a little while, spend two minutes, then five minutes, then ten minutes and see how it feels. See how long you are able to hold your attention.
If you can’t hold your attention for more than a few seconds at a time, that’s OK! I still have days where I catch myself every few seconds thinking, “There’s another thought… and there’s another thought.” Sometimes I will go minutes lost in thought without realizing what I’m doing and before bringing my attention back.
Other times I am able to focus and stay attentive for long periods of time without much distraction. It just depends. It’s a practice, as I said.
If you would like to develop a meditation practice, then I guess the only thing to do is to practice it. And to notice and recognize the effects that it has as you meditate and how much more relaxed or peaceful you feel in the moment and throughout your daily life, how that experience feels.
There are also several great apps out there that can help you learn to meditate. One of them is called Headspace and it has a series of guided meditations and videos.
Guided meditations are another great way to meditate. Rather than just going in on your own thoughts you can have a voice talking in your ear to remind you when to breath or what to think about and to guide you on an experience. That can be a helpful and powerful way to meditate, especially as you get started. I’ve used a lot of those in the past.
There are also many great books on meditation. So many books. There’s one called The Presence Process by Michael Brown, that’s pretty deep, but I really appreciated it. It helped me to develop a practice of meditation, morning and night.
The Untethered Soul is a good one. It talks about the mind and mental chatter that goes on and how to view that. Waking Up by Sam Harris is another good one for analyzing meditation from a scientific perspective. And reading a book like The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle can help understand what’s going on as you experience some of these different states of presence in mediation.
I hope you found this video helpful. If you are interested in meditating, I encourage you to give it a try. The benefits have really been profound for me and for so many people who have meditated.
Meditation is very simple, but it’s not easy. You will find that as you get started – that we are very controlled by our thoughts and our emotions. It takes a lot of practice to learn to separate yourself from your emotions and your thoughts and the sensations in your body.
Thanks for watching. Remember to live well and to enjoy life NOW!
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