Meditation, a pathway through the chaos of life that connects us to our inner truth, our intuitive, wise, all-knowing self that resides nonlocally, free of time and space. With the density of Earthlife’s challenges, and the endless chatter of our ego-centered minds, meditation creates a bridge to that stable quiet place within, to the stillness of our souls.
Meditation has the ability to create inner peace, a sense of connection and fulfilment, and helps to generate self-empowerment. When we meditate, we gain access to the wisdom and knowledge within, which helps to improve our quality of life on every level. One cannot help but feel more relaxed and at ease when connected with the very depths of our existence. Once people engage in meditation as a routine practice, they don’t turn back, and may wonder how they ever survived without it. It becomes a way of life.
The practice of meditation began very early on in civilization, making it hard to clearly identify the date of origin, but it is known that it was thousands of years ago. There are many forms of meditation that stem from various ancient traditions, cultures and regions from around the world, many of them Eastern.
Some of the Recognized Benefits
Decreases symptoms of anxiety, depression, & post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Helps to stabilize blood pressure
Improves pain tolerance
Helps with overcoming addiction
Decreases symptoms of cancer
Supports weight loss & healthy eating behavior
Manages symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Improves sleep quality
Enhances cognitive functioning
Research is in its early stages. More studies are needed, and with high quality standards.
A Personal Journey
Although you may have heard of the many benefits of meditation, you may have even been encouraged to give it a try, but still there is a lack of motivation to pursue it, or maybe you're missing the true hook of this practice. This was my story.
With an education in psychology and mental health counseling, and well over a decade of experience as a social worker and clinician, I was familiar with meditation as a remarkable self-help tool in my field. Yet, I had only dabbled with it a few times. It wasn’t until a cathartic time in my life that I sought refuge in the solace of meditation. It was the right time and the right place for me to take it seriously.
I had been struggling with extreme perceived stress on multiple levels in my life. After allowing myself to be pulled into repeated crisis situations with my family of origin, that they had created themselves, and working for years at an agency where the workload was insurmountable and the wellbeing of employees was not valued, I hit rock bottom so to speak. I felt an emptiness inside, a disconnection, a starvation for more and a sense of knowing that there had to be more. I just didn’t know what it was or how to find it.
I took a trip to the bookstore in search of inspiration. It led me to Deepak Chopra’s book, The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire (2003). I flipped through the pages and landed on a passage in which he talks about what he calls synchrodestiny, often referred to by others as synchronicity. And in this passage, he talks about the potentially life-altering coincidences in life, and how I’ve walked into the library and am now reading these words. I was hooked, and he was right. This book was my inspiration to begin a meditation practice, and it has transformed my life. Thank you, Deepak Chopra.
How to Meditate
There are many forms of meditation practice with various opinions on the subject. Meditation can be as basic or complex as you would like it to be. I strongly encourage you to simply find what works for you. The best practice is one that you will do!
You can use the lotus position, sit in a chair, or lie down. Make yourself comfortable, whichever position that is, while keeping your spine straight. Lying down isn’t recommended for those who fall asleep easily, this is a conscious practice. Place your palms up unless that is uncomfortable for you for any reason.
Close your eyes and take a large deep breath to settle in. Begin with a small amount of time such as five minutes. Set a timer with a soft alarm. Focus on your breath, concentrating on the process of inhalation and exhalation, envisioning it in your mind. As thoughts enter your mind, and they will, release them and refocus on your breath.
Many people have the misconception that they are not able to meditate because they cannot stop the thoughts from coming. Nobody can. Even monks who meditate for long periods of time over many years, still have thoughts that come. What will change is the spaces in-between. They will become longer and more frequent. Although, even years into the practice you will still have some meditations with more mind-chatter than others. Don’t judge yourself. You’re getting something out of it.
You can add a mantra if you would like, which can deepen the connection to your consciousness. I took this from Deepak Chopra’s recommendation in the book mentioned previously and found it to be very helpful. He suggests using so-hum, which mimics the sound of the breath. It is a Sanskrit word meaning, I am, and represents our connection with universal energy, or oneness. In your mind, say the word so on the inhalation, and the word hum on the exhalation.
Music can also be used as a helpful tool with meditation, but it is not necessary. If you are interested, there are countless relaxation recordings available, some specifically developed to enhance meditation. If you would like more information on this subject, you can follow this link: An Exploration of Sound Healing (shellyhoekstra.com)
The goal is to meditate for longer periods of time as you get comfortable with it. Make it a daily routine for twenty minutes. This is ideal. Twice daily even better, and more than twenty minutes on occasion can be really beneficial too but do what you can. Even if you’re short on time and can only get ten or fifteen minutes in on some days, it will be helpful. Although eventually, shorter periods of time just won’t seem long enough.
Manifest Your True Desires
Meditation enables us to reach elevated states of consciousness. When we do this, and we focus on the life we most desire, we bring those realities into our existence. What are you willing to do to create the life you’ve been dreaming of? It all starts within. I don’t give recommendations on the various modalities because everyone resonates with different practices. If I were to recommend just one, this would be it!
Chopra, C. (2003). The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, Crown Publishing Group, Random House, Inc.
Meditation Lifestyle (2022).
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (2022).