“When you make friends with the present moment, you feel at home no matter where you are. When you don’t feel at home in the Now, no matter where you go you will carry unease with you”
— Eckhart Tolle
Benefits of Meditation
There is loads of research showing how meditation can help to alleviate stress and anxiety and increase a sense of well being and self-acceptance.
Mindfulness and Therapy
In therapy, mindfulness is a tool that trains your attention to catch the glimmers of goodness, peace, or rest that are already here, and teaches you to use our attention and intention to expand upon them. ‘Setting your intention’ is a phrase that you often hear in a yoga class, but from a neuroscience perspective how you direct your attention and intention is also how you create structural changes in your brain.
Riding the waves
Mindfulness also trains you to tolerate the unpleasant experiences, and gradually stop identifying them with who the truth of you are. This is life-changing! You are not your thoughts, your feelings, or your experiences—but how often do you feel like you are?
Here’s an example. Imagine that you have to give a presentation. You start to feel anxious: your heart starts to beat faster, your throat and chest feel tight and you’re thinking “I need to escape right now or else!” When you are not mindful of what is happening, you will automatically perceive that whole thought and feeling as true, and you will also probably have an even more painful background feeling: it is a problem for you to feel this way. Feeling this way means you’re not okay, or your life won’t be how you want it to be.
When you bring in the energy of mindfulness, you are learning to just notice and accept the tightness in your chest and throat and your desire to not give a presentation without believing the accompanying story line of “feeling this way is a problem and it means I am not good enough.” You learn how to feel and ride the waves, while knowing that you are the ocean. That gives you more space and cognitive power to come up to solutions to the real problems in your life, and not make the things that you can’t control even more painful.
Experience a Richer and More Satisfying Life
This is an incredibly rich practice. Gradually, you find yourself more and more able to stay present to parts of your experience that would have overwhelmed you in the past. Times when you would have shut down. Or lashed out. Or turned to food or substances. Life becomes increasingly rich, complex, and satisfying, and you feel a sense of homecoming, of returning to yourself in ways that are hard to put into words.
“A warrior knows that the ends do not justify the means. Because there are no ends, there are only means…”
— Paulo Coelho, Warrior of the Light