Words: Alexandra Mozgovaya
There is no space left for beautiful silence and inner reflection in our frantic worlds. Hi-tech, social media equipped information cult, action-packed lifestyles and a mindset striving for success 24/7 often separate us from balanced mental health and inner strength. It seems like it’s almost impossible to feel really present in our actions and unconditionally happy in the fast-paced daily grind, and it has become equally challenging to stay mentally fit and focused under pressure - "I must succeed", "I must be better than the others", "I must do more than I can physically cope with" are common, unending fear-induced mantras circulating in our minds every day, without us even paying close attention to these fears chasing us silently. Finding harmony and balance in every little thing we do in life is a key to becoming more aware of our actions and making the most out of our valuable skills, without destroying ourselves and our mental strength along with the cult of squeezing out more of our valuable inner batteries every day entirely. It's a real battlefield. We should reflect inwards, find the true meaning of our path and connect with our actions: only silence can help us to re-evoke our inner spirit, regain mental strength and re-evaluate the meaning of our actions and words.
Meditation is an ancient practice that dates far back in history, but we now concentrate on the latest facts and discoveries. For the past seven years, scientific world has brought us a lot of knowledge about meditation and it's correlation to inner peace, yet the topic is still being carefully studied.
In 2010, The Buddha, the Brain, and the Science of Happiness: A Practical Guide for Transforming Your Life was published worldwide by Rick Hanson Ph.D., consisting of a body of research on meditation’s influence on brain work. A year later, in 2011, Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman published the book Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding peace in a Frantic World that describes the clear scientific effects of meditation and its studied effect on our mind.
Richard O'Connor, a psychotherapist with 30 years of experience and an author of popular books on the treatment of depression, happiness and bad habits, published his own book called Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Medication Can't Give You, which successfully proves that meditation is an effective practice helping to deal with emotional downs.
Thich Nath Hanh is a Zen Buddhist monk from Vietnam, rector of the Buddhist meditation center, author of more than 100 books on Buddhism, meditation and awareness. His book Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise also confirms there's a strong connection between meditation and easing our mind, proving that meditation is here helping to guide us to purposeful life, inner peace and living in the present.
We need silence and mere empty minutes for ourselves without any thoughts, worries, opinions, comparison and hypothesis chasing us. All quiet. Void. Information surrounds us everywhere and every minute, we are flooded with the flow of information without even being aware of it: we think, look back, analyse, reflect and contemplate and compare everything - the people, events, daily news and facts, all of it causing unending mental disdain. So we have to find a way to a moment of calmness and give our brains a rest. Meditation is that rest. We should all give ourselves a moment of silence and strive for purposeful living and re-evaluate the true purpose of our actions; we should seek and connect with our inner tranquil, and learn to be more present in today. Only that way the daily grind of silently striving for success and wealth and fame doesn't drain our delicate hearts and carelessly destroy our inner spirit, the true powers of life guiding us forward each day.
Don't worry about the religious aspect of meditation. Most practices, which are available for us, are not directly connected to Buddism, yet are natural to follow.
How to start a simple meditation practice after a hard day?
Meditation in 3 steps:
1. Sit as you like, no matter how – the key factor is personal comfort. Turn off sounds in you room and ask family members not to bother you for 10 minutes. You can close your eyes, or you may not, it is all about what suits the best for you.
2. Just sit and concentrate on your breathing: inhale and exhale. Don't try to control the breathing, just observe. During this time you will experience a constant flow of thoughts and ideas, you may have a desire to do something, to count how much there is to do this evening or tomorrow morning. Let these thoughts flow.
3. Observe these sentences and free them one by one, making sure you continue to concentrate only on breathing. Let go of all of your troubling thoughts and what-if-s one by one. The power of breathing leaves no space for emotionally-draining, negative thoughts. After 10 minutes you can return to everyday work. Meditation practice complete.
There’s a variety of meditation practices available, so you can do any you like. This one is simple and easy to practice whenever and wherever.
Results of meditation?
From scientific viewpoint, meditation can recreate neural communication in our brain – we feel much more positive about ourselves and experience happiness, reduced stress levels and reaction to anxiety. Physical brain abilities rise and happiness hormones in the body develop faster and more effectively. In most researches, meditation practice indicates growth and effectiveness in assistance to fight depression, anxiety disorders and other emotional worries.
Have a moment of silence, reflect inwards and be healthy!