In a society that has advanced to instant communication at its fingertips, consists of daily congested traffic jams to get to work, and breeds insecurity from its unrealistic beauty standards–it’s hard for the majority of us to find a quiet mind, or a sense of our inner beauty. But the good news is that there is another way to feel good about ourselves. Incorporating a daily practice of meditation has changed how I live in this society, and I believe it could change many more lives as well.
So what is meditation, exactly? You will hear all sorts of definitions from different people, and many of you may initially picture a monk cross-legged chanting “Ommm”. But, essentially, meditation is practicing awareness. It is training the mind to focus on one particular thing at a time–whether it be taking a mindful frolic in the grass, staring at a candle flame, or concentrating on one’s own breathing. With that being said, you can see the contrast from our distracted, rushed society, where most people are quick to rush home from their 9-5, jump on the couch and fret about the violent world news–doing it day after day. There is sometimes very little effort to relax or have inner contemplation. Instead, we continue to look outside of ourselves, hoping for somebody else to change the planet. Were we really meant to live like this?
We may have learned that we were weird, unintelligent, or unimportant from an authoritative influence growing up. As a result, many of us grow up feeling insecure and holding our hearts closed–often subconsciously preventing us from getting to know people at an intimate level. Instead, we feel drawn to relationships with people that never seem to meet us halfway. These people are often emotionally, physically, or sexually abusive in some shape or form.
I am not a fan of victimization, but if there was any place in my life I felt neglected, it came from the emotional abuse of an overly-anxious parent. I remember feeling powerless in many situations at a young age, unsure of when the next angry outburst would expel in the household. Though other factors played a role, the abuse towards me affected the relationship I had with myself and with others. As I got older, I chased men that never seemed to like me back, at least for too long. Some of my friends would often be criticizing, anxious and even backstabbing. I grew to be a rather pessimistic individual.
But several years later, through many weekends of partying and heartbreaks from emotionally-unavailable people, I finally came to the realization I was unfulfilled. I had very few people in my life that accepted me for the “out there” interests I had. I was into things like near-death experiences, government conspiracies like Area 51, and what the purpose of life was. Alcohol was no longer helping me find lasting friends, and next-day hangovers were nothing to brag about anymore. I was growing up, and really questioning what it was I was looking for. I could no longer blame anybody else–this was all me. Though the world had taught me for so long to look elsewhere, I felt it was finally time to look within.
I started taking a local yoga (yoga is a form of moving meditation) class around that time, and in time began to notice the effects it had on me. I found it easier to relax, be vulnerable with other people, and had increased levels of concentration. I even noticed my desire to drink less and a greater desire to find a more peaceful group of friends. Though the changes were not all smooth and I “lost” many people I thought I knew well, the overall outcome outweighed its bumpy transition. I moved to a new city, studied at a metaphysical school where I practiced daily sitting meditations, and found a wonderful boyfriend and friends that rode a similar boat as me.
Though my journey is continous (as for anyone!), I have a huge desire to spread awareness to others of this overlooked practice. Very few individuals are taught how to meditate in this society unless they search on their own, which in my opinion is one reason this world is increasingly hectic. I used to party a lot of my emotions and worries away, but if I had realized it was okay to be me without the substances, I would have turned back long ago. Meditation allowed me to finally slow down the often non-stop thoughts I had and hear my intuition speak. IMHO, if we can’t stop to hear our own voice, we often turn to listen to other people, taking on their attitudes as our own.
My mission is to encourage others to find quiet time within their day, for at least 10 minutes, free of external distractions. Perhaps one could join a local meditation group (check MeetUp in your local area), practice prayer or a form of meditation in your home, or study ancient spiritual traditions. There is something beautiful about being quiet–your mind eventually slows down, and the heart begins to speak again. Let us change the world with our hearts, and not just our minds.