Finding the Only Moment We Have

Meditation is something that has been entering more and more into the mainstream culture.  It used to be seen as this practice done by hippies and Buddhist monks, but now is being done in boardrooms, corporate retreats and people’s living rooms.  It has moved out of the realm of religion and pseudo-science to become a well-respected part of a daily health regimen.  It’s also something that I have been practicing for years now, something that I have to credit my sanity to.

Before going into my story, here’s a quick rundown of what I mean when I use the word “meditation”.  I have to clarify because it’s still a pretty loaded word with images of guys in robes sitting on mountain tops coming to mind when it’s mentioned.

When I use the word meditation I’m referring to mindfulness meditation.  Spending from 15 minutes to an hour (or more) every day focusing on existing in the moment.  Finding the breath and sitting in silence, letting thoughts come and go while maintaining focus on the moment.

I came to meditation when I was in a pretty bad place in my life mentally.  I had failed at getting into the army due to a medical condition.  I was in a job I hated going to, stuck in a rut creatively and all round felt that I was entering a life I had never signed up for.  I was suffering dealing with all these emotions and thoughts.

I can’t remember the specific reason I started meditation.  Maybe someone suggested it to me, maybe I heard about it on the Internet, I don’t know.  I started with guided meditation using the ‘Headspace’ app.  It took all the mysticism out of this thing that I was initially skeptical about.  It normalized the practice for me, as something no different than brushing your teeth.  It was just another routine, only this one done for the mind, not the body.

After the first week I was feeling better.  After a month of daily meditation I was back to normal.  I was able to stop focusing so much on the past and worrying so much about the future and instead found peace in the present.

It taught me that I had been living my life in spaces that were not real.  The past is not real, it’s just memory, and the future hasn’t happened.  Yet here I was, spending most of my waking energy inhabiting these mental places.  My daily practice taught me the value of focusing on the only moment that is real, the present moment.

It’s hard to describe, and I’m no expert, but I strongly believe that everyone should be working meditation into their daily lives.  Even fifteen minutes a day can make a huge difference.  Just remembering that nothing is permanent, that the past is not real and the future is yet to come.  That something as simple as focusing on your breathing can make so much difference.

Meditation has not made me a super human with amazing powers.  I still get mad, still get depressed and still get anxious.  It has made it easier to cope with these things though.  It has made it so that I can better understand my emotional states and manage them.  It’s taught me that nothing is forever, and how that applies to both positive and negative things.

I’m no monk, ask anyone that knows me, but I do think that without this practice in my life I wouldn’t be where I am.  I would probably be a wreck, taking pills just to make it through the day.  I really think that finding meditation, finding mindfulness, changed my life for the better.

I could go into all the science behind it, but I’m not an expert and would just be quoting others.  There is scientific backing to meditation, but that shouldn’t be the reason you get into it.  I would only suggest that you give it a try.  There are plenty of resources out there for guided meditations.  Try it for at least ten days, a month would be ideal.  If you don’t find any benefit from it then you’ll know maybe it’s not for you.  I think you will find a benefit though, at the very least a benefit in spending some of your waking time doing literally nothing except existing.

Human consciousness is an evolutionary accident.  We are bundles of cells contemplating their own existence.  We are the universe looking in on itself.  I truly believe that the only way to be comfortable in the paradox of our own consciousness is by focusing on just existing in the moment, and meditation allows for that.

Maybe I sound like a crazy hippy, I don’t know, just give it a try and let me know what you think.

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