Why Not Give it a Try
Whether it’s due to daily struggles to find food and water or those tied to illness, paying rent, getting a job, and finding food, stress is a reality for most of us. Now, in particular, the challenges facing many due to the arrival and response to Covid-19 has led to a significant degree of stress. And most importantly, stress kills.
As a result, people have sought means by which to deal with the stress in their lives. Meditation, in particular, has gained ground because we are living at a time when many of us are experiencing a great degree of stress.
Stress is a natural part of our lives and results from the challenges and uncertainties we may encounter. Any perception of danger will trigger, through hormonal signals, an automatic response system in our bodies. This is known as a fight-or-flight response. The key thing to remember is this mechanism is intended only for short-term and life-threatening problems. Some refer to it as our “survival mode.” We are not intended to be in “survival mode” for the long-term. But we are.
Enter meditation. For a thousand years or so, meditation has been with us. It was once one of those things that only people of a certain belief would do. We would never look askance at an array of men in long robes meditating, seeking to find spiritual illumination. It’s something we’d expect. But these days, things have changed. It’s almost like mediation has finally hit the main stream. People of any ilk will now casually note how they meditate every morning or evening. It’s believed that globally, 200-500 million people meditate. That’s not a small number. What’s going on?
If you looked online, you’d encounter any number of definitions and explanations for “meditation.” But most understand it as almost a mind-body medicine. The intention is to minimise our scattered thoughts about our past and future. So, it has a calming effect with the idea being for us to find a sort of inner peace and tranquillity. I improves our mental well-being and soothes the many and varied stresses of life of work. As well, it can help with such things as insomnia and getting back to sleep during the night.
For me, the idea of meditating was something I’d certainly heard about. Still, it had never occurred to me to even seek it out and definitely not to try. Then one day, I was chatting with a friend who actually meditates and he suggested I give it a shot. Sure, why not, I thought.
And I really wanted it to work. I made myself as comfortable as possible in my chair. I dimmed the lights, and closed my door, all to ensure a peaceful surrounding. This is generally the recipe for beginning a meditation, which may or may not be guided by someone speaking. Then, the idea is to focus on a word or a phrase (known as a mantra) or even your own breathing. I imagined that I’d rise from my chair afterwards, arms out-stretched, now a smiling renewed and reinvigorated person. That didn’t happen.
It was peaceful and calming, to be sure. Throughout, I’d be trying to calm myself and follow the words of the person guiding the meditation. Still, however much I tried, my mind would continue to drift. Before I knew it, I’d be thinking about something that had happened during the day. Either that or my minds would be going over a dilemma that may have occurred in the recent past. Then I’d hear the person guiding the meditation calmly say “stay present”! I’d realise I wasn’t. And then I’d desperately try to come back in tune with the meditation.
If this sounds familiar, don’t despair. It happens. When I began reading different ideas about meditation, one of the things I learned is it’s expected for our minds to wander while we’re meditating—until we get a little more experienced. For instance, while we may be focussed on our breathing and if our mind begins to wander, just gently direct it back to your breathing. Don’t worry.
Dependent on whom you ask, you will find online references. It can be anywhere from seven types of meditation to 23 and more. Here’s an article that explains a few of these types of meditation. There will no doubt be one or two that might just fit your personality.
Meditation may not be for everyone. But it is certainly worth a try. It is something that has certainly stood the test of time. Although we live in stressful times, there is no need for these stresses to overwhelm us. Give meditation a try.