Meditation doesn’t fix things. WHAT? I was listening to a podcast on the Good Life Project with Jonathon Fields and Gabrielle Berstein. And all I wanted to shout was WHAT? Mediation doesn’t fix things? I thought that meditation was supposed to fix a myriad of things. I thought mediation helps to preserve the aging brain. I thought that mediation helped to lessen the effects of depression and anxiety. I thought meditation created new synapses in the brain and was linked with increasing the thickness of the areas in the brain which play a role in regulating emotion. I thought meditation improved concentration and attention. I thought meditation decreased social anxiety. I thought meditation supported better sleep. And I absolutely thought that mediation improved metabolism and helps you lose weight. And now I hear: Mediation doesn’t fix things? Well what I am I doing getting up 30 minutes earlier every morning to mediate?
Ok – mediation does do all of the things that I mentioned – but perhaps Jonathan was on to something when he said that mediation doesn’t fix things. He followed that statement (and I am paraphrasing) with – Mediation stills the water so we can see where all the stuff in our life really is. Hmmmm …. Well, that made some sense to me. When I let that sink in I started thinking more about it. Meditation doesn’t fix things. Mediation stills the water so we can see where all the stuff is.
I was thinking back to the time when I was training for an ironman and I didn’t really have a formal mediation practice. In reality I wasn’t sitting still and mediating at all. I didn’t really have time to sit still – unless I was sleeping! A few weeks after the ironman was over I couldn’t figure out why I was so stressed out and everything seemed so difficult. Things seemed to get a little better when I was able to get back on my bike or run for more than 15 minutes – although I was still missing something in my life. In hindsight – a few years later when I was taking a graduate course in happiness (yes – that really does exist and it was an amazing class!) – I realized that what I was missing was my meditation practice. The hours that I spent on my bike or running was actually moving meditation. I was missing the still water so I could see all of the stuff more clearly.
There are so many ways to mediate and still the water. Sitting still is only one way to mediate. There are many forms of moving mediation including walk a Labyrinth, Qigong, Aikido, Tai Chi, yoga or your own form – like running or biking without music – or even doing dishes, mowing the lawn or shoveling snow can be meditative if you allow your mind to still and let go of all the thoughts racing through. I encourage you to find your own version or versions of mediation and let the water still.
While Jonathan is right meditation doesn’t fix things – there are some other benefits:
- Lowers oxygen consumption
- Decreases respiratory rate
- Increases blood flow and slows the heart rate
- Increases exercise tolerance
- Leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation
- Helps in post-operative healing
- Drops cholesterol levels
- Lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Relaxes the nervous system
- Helps with focus and concentration
- Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate
- Helps in quitting smoking, alcohol addiction
- Increases listening skills and empathy
- Decreases the aging process
- Improves air flow to the lungs resulting in easier breathing
- Enhances the immune system
- Decreases muscle tension
- Helps in chronic diseases like allergies, arthritis etc
- produce lasting beneficial changes in brain electrical activity
- Drops cholesterol levels
- Lowers risk of cardiovascular disease
- Prevents, slows or controls pain of chronic diseases
- Increases serotonin level
- Increases Productivity
- Increases one’s perceptual ability and motor performance
- Requires less time to fall asleep, helps cure insomnia
- Deeper understanding of yourself and others
- Increases self-actualization