Clear Your Thoughts, Calm Your Mind
The speed of the world we now inhabit is faster than it has ever been. Every aspect of our life is becoming increasingly data-rich, with information about virtually any topic we choose to be interested in just a few clicks away.
With this incessant sensory overload that we go through consciously or unconsciously every day, clarity of thought is a dying trait. The mind is the greatest invention of the universe, yet it is being forced to process and filter knowledge at a quicker pace than it can cope with. In these confusing times, calming our mind and clarifying our thoughts has become more difficult than ever – and also, the most essential.
Our restlessness, anxieties and unhappiness originate with our mind, and end with it too. The most powerful (now scientifically proven) method to restore tranquil clarity in our thoughts is the traditional practice of meditation.
1. Why Meditate?
To many of us, meditation is a “fancy” practice done by either enlightened yogis or charlatan gurus. It just seems like a shiny medal that “spiritually woke” individuals seem to parade around wearing.
But the truth is, meditation is the ultimate self-healing tool available to all of us, at all times. You can practice it anywhere – whether alone at home, or with a community in an ashram. It is a very accessible and important method for anyone who seeks to enhance their mental health.
a) What is Meditation?
In a nutshell, meditation is inner focus. It is the act of looking within and finding within. It is a practice that helps us truly recognise ourselves and get in touch with our true nature.
There are hundreds of meditative techniques you can follow to attain inner peace. There is no such thing as an “ultimate” meditation style. They are all just means to reach the same end.
Some sages say that meditation is the act of “doing nothing”. It is learning to spend time with oneself, peacefully observing the volume of one’s thoughts, without feeling the desperate need to grab the nearest device.
b) The Myriad Benefits of Meditation
Controls Stress – Meditation has been proven to reduce the release of cortisol, our body’s stress hormone. An excess of cortisol in our system disrupts sleep, promotes stress and contributes to cloudy thinking. Meditation also helps with stress-induced disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and PTSD.
Reduces Anxiety – Meditation is the most strongly recommended organic method to cure anxiety disorders across scientific communities worldwide. It helps lessen the adversities of cloudy thinking, phobias, social anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks and OCDs.
Improves Emotional Health – Meditation promotes an improved self-image and a positive outlook on life overall. The longer it is practised, the more emotionally stable individuals report feeling. Meditation also causes a reduction in the inflammatory chemical cytokine (related to depression) which directly contributes to an elevated mood.
Enhances Self Awareness – The self-enquiring nature of meditation fosters a greater understanding of one’s own nature. You gain greater awareness of harmful and self-defeating thought habits that help you steer them towards more constructive patterns. In the true sense of the phrase, it helps you “know yourself”.
Lengthens Attention Span – The mind is a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. As you practise greater focus, your ability to concentrate and your attention span improves, which helps you considerably in completing tasks better and more efficiently.
Remedy for Addiction – Meditation helps develop mental discipline. The increased ability for self-control and awareness of addiction triggers aids tremendously in abstinence. It enhances our willpower to resist impulses, which can help us control food cravings and lose weight as well.
Improves Sleep – Meditating helps to calm the mind and to control the stray thoughts that terrorise us when we close our eyes to rest. It makes us fall asleep faster and improves overall sleep quality by relaxing our body, releasing tension and placing us in an overall peaceful state
2. Gain Control of Your Emotions
Often when we experience emotions that threaten to overwhelm us, especially when they are negative emotions, we avoid, resist or suppress them. We try to bury it in the dark recesses of our mind. We pretend that they don’t exist.
The irony is that the more the resistance these emotions are met with, the stronger they become. Instead of bracing the momentary tides that arise with these emotions, we let it slowly trickle into a traumatic flood.
What’s the solution then? Do we be impulsively reactive to all the emotions we feel, or do we continue to exercise futile control?
The answer is in a rehabilitative technique called “witnessing”. When we witness our emotions as they arise, from a third person perspective, we do not react to it. We are neither the victim nor the perpetrator. We are a mere observer.
The witness consciousness allows us to become a neutral observer of our own life. It helps us be aware of everything – just watching, noticing, but never judging. It grounds us and helps us be present to ourselves.
When we start witnessing, we stop resisting. When an emotional storm threatens our being, our soul, alike a life-giving tree, must not oppose the wind. The ones that resist are uprooted, the ones that sway with the flow survive.
As we practise the art of witnessing, we’ll begin to gain greater control of our emotions. Being self-aware creates a subtle joy of just being alive and present in the moment. This enables us to drink from our well of vitality and transform any negative emotion, consequence or outcome – into positive ones.
3. Benefits in Careers, Family & Creative Professions
Work-related stress is a hazardous reality of many people’s lives. A particularly difficult boss, a tight deadline, long hours and not enough pay – several work factors can disrupt our mental harmony. We spend the majority of our waking hours in the workplace after all.
And then we carry our perturbed mind back home to our family. What is ideally a safe haven can then transform into a battleground. A stressed and anxious mind lacks patience and is very prone to negativity. This can adversely affect our relationships with even our dearest ones.
Creative professions are more demanding than many might imagine. There are often slow days when innovation has just seemed to have deserted the mind and nothing created appears worth salvaging. These can be particularly taxing times for the mind too, especially when going through an extended run of “creator/s block”.
Meditation is a healing practice that can improve both your personal and professional life a lot. Thousands of workers in a subordinate or executive position from far and wide have reported the same calming benefits that they experienced by meditating daily. Even as little as five minutes of meditation every day can bring about tremendous change in your life.