I meditate because it turns me into a superhero.
Now you know my secret 🙂
But I’m actually only half joking. No matter what’s going on in my life, things will always go better for me and those around me if I meditate on a regular basis.
When I do, all of my abilities and mental functions are just a bit more keen. I’m more aware, I notice more detail, I stay on task better when working, my memory is sharper, I feel happier, and I connect more with those around me instead of staying stuck in my head.
Why I Meditate: Happiness & Depression
I remember what it was like to be depressed; I spent the better part of 6 years hating myself and my life when I was younger. I thought I was fundamentally broken and cursed genetically, and that there was no hope for me. Who could ever love someone as fat and broken as me? How could I make my way in the world with such mental handicaps?
That thinking seems so obviously ridiculous and untrue from my current vantage point, but negative emotions are not about objective logic or reality.
So often, they’re about repetition of thought. If you’re depressed, or just in a temporary funk, there’s usually an endlessly looping litany of negative thoughts which play out in your head. Whatever troubles you face come to dominate the entirety of your life, and you can’t find anything beyond those troubles.
When you’re in this mental state, it actually feels BAD, or at least annoying, to think happy thoughts and perceive happy things.
Meditation’s primary role is to stop all thought, which cuts off the fuel of your funk. When you stop thinking, your mind winds down and, eventually, your emotional state comes back to neutral. From this place you can start seeding your mind with gradually-more positive thoughts, which can help pick you up and allow you to leave happiness behind. Thought is certainly not the only element of happiness, but it’s a major contributor.
Although I haven’t been truly depressed in many years, negative things sometimes happen which can throw me off my game for awhile. Usually, these issues have a small actionable fix I can enact which requires some mental planning. Yet the mental space I sometimes let them take up can be far in excess of that amount. Mostly, I just replay negative thoughts about my state, regret the past, or dread the future over and over again in my head. This thinking achieves nothing, and makes me miserable.
Distraction is often the best way around this. Throwing yourself into something you love in an all-encompassing way can force you to stop thinking the negative thoughts because you’re concentrating on something else. But sometimes you’re just in such a funk that you can’t leave the negative thoughts behind, and the distraction seems unattractive.
So what do you do? You meditate. With the cessation of thought, you find that there’s actually a wellspring of contentment beyond the words and ideas in your head. When you meditate, you prepare your mind for moving in a better direction.
Meditation is the one of the major things that keeps me out of a funk when life throws me curve balls.
Why I Meditate: Creative Extraordinaire
One of the most satisfying things in life is the creative process. It plays out in different ways in different hobbies, professions, and arts, but when you’re creatively stunted, you’re a lot less likely to be happy or productive.
Have you ever been wrapped up in an idea and impassioned to carry it out? It’s amazing, right? The momentum of the idea seems to just carry you along.
But creativity is also somewhat mysterious. Where does it come from? Why does it seem to go away for periods, only come come back in a torrent out of the blue?
I don’t think anyone has definitive answers to these questions, but I will say that I tap into inspiration and creativity far more frequently when I’m meditating regularly. I don’t know how it happens, but it does.
On a less grandiose note, the minutiae of carrying out a project, creative or not, seem more interesting and less burdensome when I meditate.
Why I Meditate: Productivity Guru
Anyone living in the modern world faces distractions which stop them from getting things done. Facebook, checking email, and all kinds of social media abound, and it’s so easy to get off track.
One of the nicer meditation bonuses is that my focus is so much sharper. It’s a lot harder to distract me if I’ve started the morning with 20 minutes of meditation. Even when my mind gets pulled in another direction, I’m usually able to correct course and get back on task pretty quickly.
The end result is that meditation lets me get a lot more stuff done.
Why I Meditate: Skills And Learning
Something about meditation and mindfulness make it a lot easier for me to learn physical and mental skills. This is probably because when you’re present in the moment and your mind isn’t racing off to think about other things, you’re better able to absorb and remember the things around you. I’ve seen this play out in a number of interesting ways over the years.
For instance, when I was younger I was always daunted by the idea of learning foreign languages because I thought of my memory as being pretty sub par. I nearly flunked several foreign language courses in school. But regardless of how my memory stacks up to the average, when it’s focused through mindfulness and meditation it can get a lot done.
I was surprised how easily and quickly I learned the 150 most commonly-used Spanish words in preparation for the multi-month trip to Mexico I’m on at the moment. And those words turned out to be pretty helpful.
I also find I can pick up physical skills far quicker than I used to when I was younger, when I thought of myself as clumsy and inept, always walking into things and knocking things over.
For instance, many people struggle with doing double unders with a jump rope, but I was able to do them on my third attempt. I also tend to pick up many challenging partner acrobatic techniques quickly. I’m no professional athlete, but for a guy that just likes to play, I do pretty well for myself.
Learn How To Meditate:
Many people struggle with meditation. They think they’re “not the meditating type,” or just temperamentally unsuited for it. They try it once or twice, but they can’t quiet their mind and give up.
I struggled with meditation when I first tried it. In fact, I actually hated it. But over the years I’ve found techniques that make it work for me.
If you’d like to reap the benefits of meditation but don’t know where to start, check out my free beginner’s guide to meditation. I talk about the strategies I’ve used in my own practice. here.