By: Ashley Tulio, Communications Specialist
Meditation can be defined as a set of techniques intended to encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. It provides many benefits for psychological well-being, and as it comes in various forms, there are many types of meditation. The two main types are:
- Concentrative meditation involves focusing all of your attention on a specific object while tuning out everything else around you.
- Mindfulness meditation consists of being aware of and involved in the present moment and making yourself open, aware and accepting.
Meditation has shown improvements in measures of anxiety and depression. I have learned to implement mindfulness meditation in my everyday routine as it helps me create structure, gives me time to self-reflect, and helps me obtain peace of mind. I’ve been struggling with making time for myself, so when the pandemic occurred, I realized this was an opportunity to take the time and learn how to meditate properly. Before the pandemic, I was guilty of tending to activity, meaning that I involved myself in everything possible. This mentality led me to be so stretched that the quality of the activities diminished. After always involving myself with many responsibilities, I realized that I was never able to successfully mono-task. I struggled to complete one task with my full attention without thinking of my other responsibilities as my mind was also on the move. I also tended to define my value by what I did; I thought the more I did, the higher my self-worth would be. I soon realized that this leads to burning out, which happens to me almost regularly. Meditation helped me improve myself; it helped with increasing my self-discipline, attention span and helped me to develop new cognitive skills. A critical part of paying attention is ignoring distraction, and there has been growing evidence that meditation training helps develop attentional control and improve attention span. This has been instrumental for me in learning how to mono-task.
If you are someone who wants to start practicing meditation but have no idea where to start, here are a few steps that have helped me with my meditation journey:
- Choose a quiet spot that has no distractions.
- Set a time limit.
- Pay attention to your body, and make sure that you are comfortable.
- Focus on your breathing.
- Acknowledge your thoughts: this is extremely important to remember; it is okay for your mind to have thoughts while you’re meditating; acknowledge them and let them pass!
Meditation can help you develop new skills
- Quiet the mind so you can listen better: Many of us face that our minds and thoughts never stop and may be too loud at times. This creates an inner voice so loud it hinders our connection with the present. Meditation is meant to help you find peace in your mind. Controlling the noise might be extremely difficult initially, but as time goes by and you get further on your meditation journey, you will quiet those thoughts and let them pass. Once the inner noise is reduced, you will focus on the task at hand much quicker and remain more focused and motivated for more extended periods.
- Find emotional balance: When learning a skill, it is easy to get frustrated with the lack of results and the difficulty of the task, which can cause anxiety and bring out unsolved emotions. These negative emotions often build up within us and, once released, leave us empty and lost. Practicing meditation can increase your emotional intelligence, ease your capacity to handle difficult feelings, complicated situations, and challenging tasks, and allow for an easier flow of emotions.
- Stress less and have more energy: When you are constantly stressed, this may lead to an individual feeling burned out, as one’s body uses a large amount of energy while you are in a state of stress. Meditation helps to reduce stress levels, giving you more energy. With mindfulness, you can let go of things that have caused anxiety in your body. Reducing stress overall, you ease the mental and physical strain your body was feeling.
- Improve focus and motivation: The inability to truly focus on one task is a predicament I believe many individuals go through. Meditation can help you reprogram your mind so that you can stay both motivated and resilient in your desire to learn something new. Once you find that inner peace and keep your head clear of thoughts that distract you, you will be able to divert all of your attention to the present and give all your focus to any task you wish to complete.
- Boost cognitive function: Meditation and mindfulness are known to boost cognitive function when used in tandem. Daily meditation has been proven to help improve how you perceive and process objects, images and shapes that we see. This is very important since many of us, including myself, learn visually when learning a new skill.