What is meditation?
There are many forms of meditation. Mindfulness meditation is taking the time to become more present in your experience, in order to better navigate the tides of life, as well as enrich the experience of living. Concentration practices are designed to stabilize and clarify the mind. And contemplative practices introduce ideas such as kindness or compassion, in order to improve our emotional well-being.
Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and improve physical health. It also reduces what is called ‘stickiness,’ which is the length of time that negative emotions and thought patterns last. Through practice, we become more self-aware and so able to make better choices in our lives.
Meditation does not require stopping the flow of thoughts or being a calm person. Rather, meditation provides tools to work with the mind as it is. Because the mind is neuroplastic, we can strengthen the stability of the mind through practice, much like we can build a muscle by exercising.
Both yoga and meditation are designed to ‘wake us up’ to our current experience, to live more richly and face what needs improving. Sometimes the practice offers a peaceful respite from anxiety or rumination. Sometimes turning toward our experience provides the opportunity to process old emotional experience. In all cases, meditation only requires showing up and engaging in the practice. There is no success or failure.