5 Reasons to Practice Mindfulness Meditation

Here are my top 5 reasons to practice mindfulness meditation (in no particular order because it’s all good):zenPose copy

1. Staying Connected to the Present Moment – In mindfulness meditation we train our mind to keep its attention on what is happening here and now, without judgement. We watch our thoughts, we feel the sensations of our bodies, and we practice accepting these things just as they are. True happiness arises when we learn to accept what is and to live our life in the present moment, both on and off our meditation cushion, without wishing for it to be anything else. Meditation is the place where we can practice letting go to let life be.

2. Learning to Not Take It All So Seriously – One of the things you start to see when you begin to meditate is that you are not your thoughts. How can you be? You can’t notice your thoughts and be your thoughts at the same time. So there must be something more to you than just the content of your thinking. Once you recognize that distinction, you realize that you don’t have to take your thoughts so seriously. After all, in just a moment or two one thought will be gone and another, different thought will arise to take its place. It’s amazing the possibilities that become available once you understand that you do not need to be at the mercy of every thought as it arises, that not everything is true just because you think it.

3. Responding from Intelligence Rather than Reactivity–  In meditation we cultivate our ability to respond to situations from a place of intelligence rather than habit. As we practice “sitting” we learn to refrain from immediately scratching our itches or stretching our aching muscles. We get better at staying present with whatever thoughts and experiences may be coming up, no matter how uncomfortable they may make us feel. Over time this steadfastness translates to a confidence, on the cushion and off, that we can survive the uncertainties and imperfections of life long enough to take our time considering the next right course of action. Mindfulness meditation teaches us that we have the presence to pause and mindfully respond with intelligence, rather than habitually react, to whatever arises.

4. Developing Compassion – One of the amazing things that happens when you notice your thoughts in meditation is that you start to really see yourself. And this can be scary because, let’s be honest, none of us is perfect. So we are taught in meditation to acknowledge our flaws and failings with patience, loving-kindness and compassion, because imperfection is a natural part of the human condition. And a funny thing happens as we develop our ability to see our own failings with more compassion — we start to see others’ that way too. Suddenly all those things that used to drive you crazy – the self-promoting co-worker, the hyper-critical family member , the super slow waitress at the diner – become just a little more tolerable. We find more space for compassion because we understand that we, too, are not perfect and that’s part of what connects us as human beings.

5. Improving Focus and Concentration – The central task of mindfulness meditation practices is attention. We pay attention to our breath and to the physical and emotional sensations happening in our body right now. And when our attention wanders away from those things, as it inevitably does, we train in gently bringing it back. Any seasoned meditator will tell you that, although it might improve with time, the minds tendency to wander never ends. And that’s ok – just as our muscles develop through repetition at the gym, the mind strengthens each time we practice maintaining our attention and mindfully pulling back our focus over and over again.

What is your favorite reason to meditate?

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