Close Encounters of the Third Eye: The Power of Mindful Meditation
by Adina Anand
In general, we understand how to look after our health. Eat well. Exercise regularly. Drink lots of water. But what about mental health? What is the equivalent of weightlifting for your headspace?
For many including myself, meditation offers the repetitive conditioning and introspection that helps your brain find stillness, clarity, and resilience in trying situations and amidst negative thoughts. Spending just a little bit of time every day to refill my cup by quieting the voice in my head, listening to my breath, and living in the present moment allows me to build a solid foundation for mental self-care. My meditation practice has taught me that I am in control of my thoughts and feelings and has empowered me from within to know myself better than anyone else.
I discovered meditation as a way of trying to comprehend my place in the universe at a time when the world felt like it just wasn’t made for me. Tapping into my innermost sensations simplified this gargantuan task by allowing me to focus on only the things I could control. At the start of my journey, I discovered one of my favorite sayings: “you only live two places in your whole life: your body, and your mind.” I now live by this idea and am constantly striving toward finding a balance between loving my body and mind equally. I think the most beautiful thing about practicing meditation is that progress cannot be expressed in numbers or charts. I can’t see gains in a mirror or losses on a scale. When change is stirring, I feel it in my every cell, and I just know that I’ll be okay.
If you’ve been waiting for a sign to give meditation a try, here it is! Don’t just take it from me. Here is what three seasoned practitioners have to say:
How did you discover meditation?
Calla: Through my yoga practice. I meditate every morning right after my workout and shower.
Alaethea: My husband introduced me to it after reading a book on mindfulness. The two concepts are a bit different, but I have found value in both mindfulness and meditation. My goal is to meditate one to two times a week.
Bhavya: I began meditating infrequently as a teenager. Upon completion of my yoga teacher training, I began to practice more formally. Now I meditate once a day in the morning.
How has meditation changed your life?
Calla: It gives me the competitive edge I need to solve a problem with clarity and speed. Earlier this week, I had to prepare for a meeting that I had been anxious for. I took ten minutes to sit in meditation an hour before the meeting, and it helped me lead from a calm and confident point of view.
Alaethea: I’m not sure I would say it has changed my life, but I can see how regular practice would equip me to better handle the stress of life. I usually find myself turning to meditation when I am having a lot of anxiety or am overwhelmed at work. Taking a few minutes to reset helps me see past all the constant expectations coming at me, and show myself some grace in that I am just one person.
Bhavya: I struggled with depression and anxiety for a few years. With the help of meditation, I was able to tackle the root of these issues. By remaining consistent, I have created a routine which improves my mental health while encouraging me to focus on my needs. Meditation is a form of gratitude that gives over and over.
What is something people who are new to meditation should know?
Calla: Just a small meditation - five or ten minutes each day - is all you need. Once you discover the benefits of meditation, you’ll feel like it’s a daily gift to yourself.
Alaethea: Show yourself some forgiveness and grace, and realize that it’s a practice. You aren’t going to be perfect at it right away, and it might be some time before you “feel” it impacting your life. Stick with it, and you will find benefits from it!
Bhavya: When beginning your practice, don’t be afraid to seek out help through various apps. Two of my favorites are Headspace and Ten Percent Happier. It is important to note that similarly to our emotions, your capacity for meditation will differ day to day. Give yourself love - even with a few minutes of meditation.
Do you have a daily mantra or affirmation?
Calla: “Sohum,” which is Sanskrit for “I Am.”
Alaethea: As someone who struggles with anxiety and a recovering perfectionist, I can get obsessed with not living up to my own expectations. Sometimes I will practice with the phrase “I am enough.” Focusing on this reminds me that I am not simply what I can accomplish, and even if all I do that day is practice one minute of meditation, that is enough.
Bhavya: My favorite Sanskrit saying translates to,
“All this is full. All that is full.
From fullness, fullness comes.
When fullness is taken from fullness,
Fullness still remains.”
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