We hear the advice to meditate all the time. We are told (or perhaps have experienced) that meditating helps us relax, improves our focus, deepens our sleep, increases our productivity, reduces our stress, and even boosts our immune systems. It seems like a fix-it-all, miracle cure. How can something so simple do all of this at once?
The reason meditation is so powerful is that it causes shifts in our awareness. Many people over-identify with their thoughts and emotions, which can prolong them and make them feel bigger than they are. Specific thoughts or feelings can agonize us for days on end. Such pervasive thoughts and intense emotions can culminate in all types of problems, including stress, anxiety, and depression. It is important to recognize that we are not our thoughts and feelings. Habitual meditation helps us realize that we are just the vessels through which they flow. We are the consciousness that experiences them, but we do not have to attach ourselves to them. We begin to feel bigger than our thoughts and emotions, and we are able to take back the control. We gain the capacity to zoom out and find inner-peace during times of difficulty.
If this convinced you to give meditation a try, do this simple exercise today. Find a comfortable position, perhaps lying on your back. Set an alarm for five minutes. Close your eyes and imagine a river running through your mind. Hear the sounds the running water makes. Feel the current sweeping through your brain. There are leaves floating down the river. Each time you have a thought, place it on one of the leaves. Let the thought go as the leaf flows away. At the end of the five minutes, slowly open your eyes. Notice how easy or difficult it was for you to let go of your thoughts as they arose. If you repeat this meditation daily, you’ll notice how much easier it becomes, both during the meditation and in daily life.