Why Should I Meditate?
In Buddhism, meditation is taught as a tool to generate mindfulness. (See The Basics of Buddhism by clicking here to learn more about mindfulness in the scope of Buddhism) Through mindfulness, we start to become aware of our actions – how we speak with others, how we act with others, what we put effort into, and what we should avoid. Meditation is a practice that helps cultivate this awareness, this mindfulness. And it’s enjoyable!
In the recent decades, science has developed enough to finally have a basic grasp on the chemistry that occurs in the brain. They’ve found that meditation is overall a positive practice that benefits you psychologically, emotionally, and physically. There are many studies that show meditation eases pain and anxiety, contributes to a longer attention span, memory retention, and a longer life; it also contributes to less stress, a more compassionate lifestyle, and overall a happier life.
And it’s been around for more than 2600 years.
Theravada Buddism follows the oldest teachings of the Buddha called the Pali Canon and teaches Vipassana which means insight leading to enlightenment.
Where Do I Start?
We would suggest attending a Meditation Orientation that we offer to understand some of the basics. They are held on Wednesday nights at 5:00pm (you may view our Event Calendar by clicking here).
However, we understand that many of us have very busy lives and can’t make an orientation.
Find a nice quiet place to sit. This could be on a cushion or in a chair. Try and make sure your knees are below your hips if you are sitting on a cushion because this could cause unwanted discomfort further in your practice. You can always do a bit of yoga, stretching, or movement before sitting down to relax.
Close your eyes and welcome the silence. Make sure to not be listening to any music as it distracts your mind.
Focus your attention on your breath. Watch yourself breathe in and breathe out naturally. You can focus your attention on the rising of your abdomen or on your nostrils where the air enters your body. Don’t control your breathing; simply let yourself breathe naturally.
What Happens When I Get Distracted?
Getting distracted is a natural part of meditation, especially when you first start. Your mind will wander. Sometimes a thought or memory will arise and you’ll think about it, and then that will naturally lead you to another thought or memory, and that will lead you to another thought or memory, and so on. Suddenly, you’re reliving the workday or planning ahead and you’ve lost your mindfulness of your breath.
Return your attention to your breath. The practice of returning your attention to your breath from a thought is not failure, it is success! You are working on returning to the present moment, on being mindful of the here and now. Sustaining the mindfulness of the breath is simply one practice on cultivating mindfulness.