Why You Need To Meditate: A Guide to Surviving the 21st Century
Where are you right now?
In the back of a cab? Lying in bed? Slouching on the couch in a position that would make your chiropractor cringe? Either way, one thing’s for sure—you’re definitely staring at a screen. Look, I’m not judging. I’d be lying if I said that I was writing this with an ink-soaked quill from my cabin in the woods. Screens are totally necessary for our ability to widely connect in the 21st century. But how much time do you really spend scrolling through your Twitter feed with YouTube playing in the background, checking Facebook, posting on Instagram, watching Netflix, or playing Candy Crush until you pass out, phone in hand? If you’re anything like me, then you’ve logged countless hours of screen-time. Yet screens are not inherently part of life here on Earth. There are no TV trees or iPhone bushes (not saying it wouldn’t be nice to go pick one of nature’s zero-dollar MacBook Pros from the ‘Apple’ orchard). My point is, despite the hours, days, and months of our lives that we spend staring into the digital abyss, it’s not a natural state for the human body.
So what’s the problem?
Well, I’ll tell you. When you’re staring at a screen in full-zombie mode, your mind is in an active state of taking in information. A never ending stream of new stuff to process—a new photo, like, comment, post, video, retweet, yada yada. And if you’re a true millennial or gen-z, you might even be using more than one screen at once! (Okay, guilty). This informational overload has bred a generation of people who just can’t seem to turn their brains off. Page took more than 3 seconds to load? Give up and go somewhere else. YouTube ad is going to take another 10 whole seconds to finish? Check Twitter while you wait. Suddenly it’s bedtime and you’re lying in bed alone with nothing to occupy you but your own company because the constant stream of information has stopped. Maybe you stay on your phone until you fall asleep. Maybe you keep the TV on all night, or maybe you lie in bed awake because you can’t sleep at all. This is a recipe for stress and anxiety. In order for you to experience a healthy mind and body, you need a natural, constant steady stream of energies moving in and out of your energy field freely and without restriction. All disease begins with trapped or blocked energy within the body. This energy is the very thing that gives you life! Physical movement and being free from thought are two of the best ways to move energy through the body, yet staring at a screen is generally combined with physical inactivity. So not only are you overburdening your energetic system by not allowing yourself to be free from thought, your body can’t help to release the stagnant energy building up because it hasn’t moved since your last pee break or trip to the fridge. This one was a real light bulb moment for me: your mind is not the totality of who you are. If I lost you here, stay with me for a sec. Think of your mind like a sixth sense. We can see, smell, hear, touch, taste, and think. You wouldn’t process and interpret the world using only one of your senses (if you could avoid it), so why do we rely so heavily on thought? The answer is that we completely and totally identify with it. That inner voice chattering away upstairs who never shuts up—we think that’s us! Well, it’s not. Regular meditators will often tell you that the first thing they noticed shortly after developing a meditation routine is that who they are is something distinctly separate from those thoughts floating around in their head.
If I’m not my thoughts, then who am I?
You are the being observing your thoughts. I know, I know… what does that even mean? It’s a tricky thing for many people to wrap their heads around because when you’re constantly thinking and unable to shut your mind off for even a moment, it’s easy to give your thoughts so much of your attention and focus. They’re always there, so there’s no chance to see what happens when they fade into the background. Meditation gives your mind a chance to rest. It allows those thoughts to fade into the distance, opening up a space for you to step into the observer that you truly are. This is what people are referring to when they talk about the experience of being grounded. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being grounded. I like to tell people that it’s like having a real-life avatar. Like you’re playing a hyper-realistic video game where you’re both the main character and the person eating Cheetos on the couch, controlling the hero’s every move. From this calm and steady vantage point, you can watch life unfolding around you and choose how to respond. Let’s say your coworker makes a snarky comment. Maybe it would have been normal for you to snap at them, or to bottle up your frustration and carry that irritation with you throughout the day. Now that you’ve been meditating every day for a few weeks, you’re feeling totally centered and grounded. Instead of resorting to your old patterns, when you hear the rude comment you notice that your mind produces a thought from its autopilot mode - ‘what a bitch, I can’t believe she said that to me!’ Instead of assuming the truth of that statement, you recognize it as only a thought and therefore choose to disidentify with it. You also have a feeling of some emotion bubbling up within you. You can tell because it feels like a bit of pressure in your chest, and part of you wants to cry. Recognizing it as a feeling of anger, you acknowledge that it’s there and continue to breathe deeply as that energy is expressed and released through your awareness of it. You also realize that by snapping, you’d only exacerbate the issue. You can see that your coworker is stressed and upset, and consider that they might be having a bad day. You choose to respond by telling them that you noticed they seemed a little on edge and asking if there’s anything you can do to help. This widened perspective is what people are referring to when they talk about being grounded, and it’s the very type of peaceful experience that meditation offers.
Okay, so I want to live in the blissful zen zone—how do I get there?
There are many ways of meditating, but I’ll share a few of what I consider to be the simplest and most effective techniques: Focus on Your Breath Sit in a quiet place, set a timer for 20 minutes, and focus on the sound of your breath. As you’re training yourself to concentrate, you’re likely to find yourself lost in many trains of thought. Don’t stress! When you notice that you’re thinking about Trump’s latest tweet, just allow that thought to gently fade away and bring yourself back to the sound of your breath. Rinse and repeat until the timer goes off. Spend Time in Nature Go for a walk in nature and focus your attention on everything happening around you without adding any internal commentary. Listen to the sound of the birds chirping without analyzing what kind of birds they are, as an example. Feel the rough bark of a tree and smell the air. Watch the way that its leaves blow in the wind. If you notice yourself thinking instead of observing, allow yourself to release the thought and place your attention back on what’s occurring with your five primary senses in the present moment.
Live in the Present Moment This one’s similar to the practice for spending time in nature but it’s good when you’re short on time and can be done literally anywhere. Doing the dishes or folding laundry? Focus your attention on all of the sensory experiences taking place. The feel of your hands in the warm water, the smell of clean clothes, the way the light reflects off of your silk scarf, the sound of the dishes banging together in the sink, etc. As always, if you find yourself lost in a train of thought, just bring your attention back to what you’re doing. Easy peasy! Suddenly you’re a grounded woo-woo master, responding to the challenges of life instead of reacting to them. It’s empowering to know that all you really need to do to survive life in the 21st century is incorporate a little meditation. Just pick a technique that you enjoy and turn it into a daily practice!
Namaste, and have a beautiful day!
Samantha Nicole (Sam) is a BQH Practitioner, Quantum Healer and Intuitive Channel. She offers distance Quantum Healing Hypnosis sessions, channeled readings, and digital products for conscious seekers & lightworkers through her business, Mind Over Miracles.
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