Updated: May 30, 2018
By: Kevin Pollard
When was the last time you turned off your mind?
My first experience with meditation came in Mrs. Welshoff’s fifth grade class. With our heads down on our desks and our eyes closed, she would turn off the lights, play relaxing music and have us focus on our breathing.
Now, anyone can tell you that getting a room full of fifth graders to sit still and be quiet for any amount of time is nothing short of a miracle. And, at first, we definitely had our fair share of giggles. The whole thing really did feel silly: listening to strange music (it was Enya, by the way) while trying to keep your eyes closed next to all your friends was not the easiest of tasks to follow.
But after a few minutes, and a few sessions, the class slowly but surely fell into a silent rhythm; a unified calm fell over us. This “quiet time” would only last for about five minutes. Nothing crazy. But after each session I remember feeling euphoric: totally relaxed and calm within my own mind.
Now, these early meditation sessions did not inspire a spiritual journey to Tibet to study with monks (nothing against Tibetan Monks, they seem like wonderful people). And they really didn’t need to.
What it did, for me, was open the door to this feeling of relaxation and calm to the point where I could easily recognize and welcome it later on in life.
I recently read “Catching The Big Fish” by David Lynch. Lynch is an advocate for transcendental meditation and attributes many of his greatest creative pursuits and discoveries to this method of “diving within the subconscious mind” to see what lies below the surface. He compares his search for inspiration with fishing; in order to catch the big fish, you need bait, patience and effort. You can’t just go out on the lake and expect the fish, or the idea, to jump into the boat. You need to bait the hook, cast the line and actively wait for the fish to bite.
Now what does this have to do with meditation?
Think of it this way; your mind is an ocean. Within this ocean are the millions of thoughts you have in a given day. When the mind is filled with negativity, anxiety and fear, the ocean becomes choppy and frantic. It is impossible to “catch the big fish” in this disrupted state.
This is where meditation comes in. The simple but life-changing process of slowing down the tide and focusing on the breath allows the mind, the currents of your ocean, to settle. It gives your brain the chance to calm itself and see that all of these negative thoughts are simply thoughts and can do you no harm.
When the water is calm, the mind is free to see what lies below the surface.
I try to meditate at least once a day. The more I practice, the more I see the benefits of it. After these quick, ten minute sessions (literally search on YouTube, “Ten Minute Meditations”, and take your pick) I feel refreshed, happy and, most importantly, clear. This clarity stays with me throughout the day and allows me to be more present and focused.
Here, don’t just take my word for it. After reading this, take a few moments to get comfortable, close your eyes and simply focus on your breathing. Within your mind, try to notice each breath (it helps to internally say to yourself “in” and “out” with each breath). If your mind wanders, don’t beat yourself up. Just gently bring your focus back to your breathing.
I promise you, taking these ten minutes a day to quiet the ocean within you will not only make you feel amazing, it will allow you to dive deep within yourself to a purer state of consciousness.
*Enya CD not included
Transcendental Meditation: a technique for detaching oneself from anxiety and promoting harmony and self-realization by meditation