Monkey mind, from the Chinese xinyuan and Sino-Japanese shin’en [lit. “heart-/mind-monkey”], is a Buddhist term meaning “unsettled; restless; capricious; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable”*. [*Wikipedia]
In simple terms, the monkey mind is our own inner critic. It always struggles to gain control.
It is important to understand that we can not block thought and emotion but through different meditation techniques we become friends with the Monkey Mind.
Meditation helps you to be less frantic, to unhook from all those habits that keep you unproductive, depressed, anxious and undisciplined.
If this is your first time meditating, then it might be a bit scary. When you first sit and decide to give it a try, you will feel a bit uneasy and frustrated when millions of contradicting thoughts will rush through you.
That’s why many people give up after just a few sessions. Shedding ego and old thought patterns is not easy but it is as rewarding as it can be.
Through proper use of meditation you can melt away the Ego and your sense of separation from the world. When you can attain this state you will feel very peaceful and very little will be required in order to keep you content.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MEDITATION ?
During meditation, increased activity has been observed in the brain in the areas directly correlated with increased anxiety, depression and pain.
A 2 months study at the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Center for Mindfulness indicates that meditation has spectacular effects on the brain waves.
Meditators have higher levels of Alpha waves which increases positivism and confidence.
So, what should you expect after meditation?
The human brain is a wonderful mechanism that works in unexpected ways. Just like a certain muscle of the body requires training in order to develop, the brain requires exercises to perform at its best.
Meditation is a way of grounding yourself, becoming resilient, more peaceful and more creative.
I personally feel that as I go deeper in my practice, my mind is much more organised, I can link faster information and can discipline myself to work on pending issues. If some time back, the constant turmoil of thoughts wouldn’t allow me to get any work done, now I feel I can easily identify my emotions and know exactly how to control them, allowing myself the time and place to be creative and productive.
Here are some of the meditation benefits:
- Improved Memory
- Goal setting
- Body awareness
- Enhanced focus
- Stress management
- Anger management
- Attention Control
- Increases productivity and creativity
- Significantly reduced anxiety and depression.
I have been meditating for several years and I can strongly affirm that my anxiety and overall state of being has improved considerably.
I work in a very stressful and demanding environment and meditation techniques have helped me to be more resilient and more centered.
The world is filled with clutter, noise and can be extremely distracting. Meditation for me is a complete surrender, a place where I am nonjudgmental and unafraid.
WHO SHOULD MEDITATE?
This challenge is addressed to all those who are able to spare few minutes to 1 hour every day and are either going through challenging times or simply want to increase spirituality and feel more connected with the outer and inner universe.
It is useful to those who want to break old thought pattern, rewire their brain and adopt new ways of thinking. Through practice, most observe how easy it is to become observant towards a given reality rather than instinctively reacting to it.
Paul McCartney, and the rest of the Beatles, studied meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1960’s. In 2009, McCartney said, “In moments of madness, meditation has helped me find moments of serenity – and I would like to think that it would help provide young people a quiet haven in a not-so-quiet world. It was a great gift that Maharishi gave us.”
Other famous people who use/used meditation as a way of living:
- Hugh Jackman
- Nicole Kidman
- David Lynch
- Russell Simmons
- Michael Jordan
- Steve Jobs
- Jerry Seinfeld
- Clint Eastwood
COMMON PITFALLS AND TRAPS IN MEDITATION
You can’t focus.
At the beginning of your practice, you might be overwhelmed with frustration noticing how cluttered and noisy your mind can be. You will encounter thoughts twirling, mingling, running from one part of the brain to the other, sending you in restlessness and despair. But let’s not forget that that is one of the purposes of meditation: to improve focus and attention.
Of course, the results will be noticed through time, takes practice and discipline but it is an achievable goal and I stand firm when saying that: IT DOES WORK FOR EVERYONE!
You are too anxious.
Anxiety is becoming a steady partner for me. We’ve been together through nights and days, interviews, random meeting with friends, heavy work days etc.
So if you suffer from anxiety, I know where you are coming from. I used to feel anxiety before starting any little task. My brain perceived everything as a major event and I would hyperventilate and worry as if i would be at the lead of a whole country.
If you find it difficult to relax, I recommend you to START SMALL.
Spend longer on focusing on your breathing- breathing for 4 seconds, hold it for another 4 seconds, then gently release it.
You could as well light a candle and focus on its swaying flame.
Try massaging your thumb or use your index finger and middle finger to apply gentle pressure between your eyebrows. These 2 techniques have helped me release tension and improve my focus.
It is important to understand that it will take some practice until you will feel comfortable with meditation.
Should you sit? Should you lay on the bed? Should you have your legs crossed?
As a beginner, you will not really know what is the best position for you but through practice and resilience you will understand better what you body needs. It is really all about allowing yourself the time to learn.
Begin slowly. Do not get frustrated if you sense your body going numb. Experiment all options.
I tried for long to meditate on a chair, then on my yoga mat with my legs crossed, then laying in bed. None of them really worked for me.
I would either get a back pain or fall asleep.
What has been wonderfully working for me these days is adopting a natural and relaxed sitting position with shoulders and hands settling into a position of comfort, with my legs elevated and my head supported by a pillow.
As I mentioned, it took some great deal of time in order for me to understand what helps me get the most out of my meditation.
Allow yourself the time to learn what is the best for you.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A MEDITATION SESSION ?
- Ensure a quiet, undisturbed environment during the meditation session. Any small distraction may lead to an distracted mind that will find it difficult to reconnect. We must understand that meditation means not only a state of calm but can be defined as a discipline and focus of the active mind.
- A lukewarm room is ideal for such practices. Ensure a pleasant temperature, where your body feels comfortable. If required, keep a blankie over your lower body since during the practice you may experience temperature changes which can become distracting.
- I highly recommend you wearing loose clothes, made out of natural fibers. During a long session and especially at the beginning of it, tickling sensations may occur and I can tell you for sure that the fabric of your clothes could be responsible for that.
- Ideally, your last meal should be 2, 3 h before your practice. This way, your digestion will not interfere in any way by making you feel sleepy or tired. It is very important to feel light and to be able to maintain a state of pleasant focus. A green tea may assist you, since is known as a natural stimulant, proven to increase the activity of neurotransmitters.
- Before starting a session, ring a bell, play a cord or simply clap your hands once. It serves as a reminder to you and to your surroundings that you are about to proceed on a sacred mission that must be honored. I personally use my Tibetan bowl at the beginning of every session. I keep it close to my forehead and let the sound penetrate my cells.
Now all the steps might seem pretentious, especially for those who live in the fast lane. While some meditations can be done on the go (to acquire instantaneous peace of mind and to relax our overworked brain muscles) I have put together all these steps so you can benefit the most, whenever more time is available.
Your meditation session is not only a place where you are still, observing the flow of your thoughts, but it is a sacred land, where you surrender to a Higher Intelligence and let go of your critical mind. Plenty of new ideas and creative thoughts may emerge after you are awaken from a deep relaxation.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and all this steps will serve you in your journey. I have added a link for you with a guided meditation I use quite often.
May you always feel grounded and inspired!
Guided Meditation for Grounding- by Jason Stephenson