There are many things in life that are beyond our control. However, it is possible to take responsibility for our own states of mind – and to change them for the better. According to Buddhism this is the most important thing we can do, and Buddhism teaches that it is the only real antidote to our own personal sorrows, and to the anxieties, fears, hatreds, and general confusions that beset the human condition.
Meditation is a means of transforming the mind. Buddhist meditation practices are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm seeing of the true nature of things. By engaging with a particular meditation practice you learn the patterns and habits of your mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being. With regular work and patience these nourishing, focused states of mind can deepen into profoundly peaceful and energised states of mind. Such experiences can have a transformative effect and can lead to a new understanding of life.
I’m going to be very honest by saying that in the past I have associated “meditation” with “hippies” or “new-age-sensitive-people”. Firstly, I apologise for anyone reading this that does place themselves within the hippy or NASP category and may be offended for it is not my intention. Rather than offend, I commend you for knowing something so extraordinary is available to everyone, harms nobody, is free and yet provides so many benefits.
The first time I actually actively listened to someone talking about their experiences with meditation was in 2014 with the CEO of the company I was employed with. I could see in his body language and his tone of voice that meditation had helped him have a clear mind for the day ahead or to calm him throughout the day. Let’s say I took note and placed this in my diary of rehabilitation options.
The second, third and fourth times were recommendations I had received from the medical fraternity saying that I should really look at trying meditation sessions. Again, I made several diary notes and left it at that.
So why didn’t I make any attempt to try a meditation session when people were recommending it? Well, my assumption was that I was going to attend a session with alternative people, burning incense, bells ringing, chanting etc. In addition to this, once I decided that I would make an effort to try meditation I wanted to do it right with no “back-yard” meditation sessions. I wanted to go to somewhere like Tibet, meditate with the Tibetan Buddhist Monks with all the chants, bells and whistles that go with the experience. Seriously, I was over thinking the whole thing in which my wife brought me back down to planet earth and suggested a local option. I do tend to over think things these days!
It wasn’t until October 2015 that I attended a local meditation class which is also when the penny dropped for me. The session was interesting, relaxing, informative, insightful and as a bonus I walked out happy after 1.5 hours. This was the start of me attending weekly sessions whenever possible for I still have many medical related appointments each week that conflict with these sessions. I have recommenced the 2016 sessions again and am enjoying them very much.
One thing I have learnt about meditation sessions is that you can’t master the art of meditation after only 3 sessions. Like many things that I participate in, I put in the hard work and hopefully over time I will come out the other end as a subject matter expert (SME). Well I have discovered that whilst meditation is very interesting, relaxing, informative, insightful etc., meditation is a learning journey that doesn’t have a fast-track for success and to be honest I’m glad it doesn’t. These meditation sessions to date have been fantastic, so much so that I look forward to them every week for I know the immediate benefits that I get from each session. In short, I walk out feeling happy, relaxed and good about myself. The learning journey extends to your everyday life by practicing meditation in your own time at home, work or wherever the opportunity may arise.
I am certainly nowhere near mastering the art of meditation but am on my way to true happiness.
My Anxiety, Depression and PTSD has been far more controllable and my recovery toolbox has another tool.