“There are techniques of Buddhism, such as meditation, that anyone can adopt.” ~ His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Feeling life biting down on you hard these days? Finding only fleeting moments of joy in the daily grind and would like them to last much longer? Here’s a thought…
Let’s say we experience a negative emotion, let’s say it’s fear. Maybe we are afraid to be hurt in a relationship, maybe we are afraid to take a risk or seize an opportunity or maybe we are afraid to be vulnerable and be ourselves in front of others.
Whether consciously or not, this fear is coming up again and again. This negative emotion is like a stray dog that comes around the house. If we feed the dog, it will keep coming back again and again.
If we start feeding it and try to stop, it will get more persistent at first; then perhaps it will quiet down, but continue to lurk. If we ignore it and pretend it isn’t there, the same thing may happen. As they say, what you resist persists.
What you feed also persists.
Meditation is the means to making the dog (or negative emotion) disappear for good.
There are many organizations conducting research on the benefits of meditation. Some great studies are being conducted by the Mind and Life Institute established by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The aim of this non-profit organization is to combine traditional ways of contemplation, modern-era scientific methods and research to create integrated approaches to advance the well-being of all people.
Some of their most recent research uses real-time MRI’s to watch, minute by minute, what happens in various regions of the brain during meditation. This research confirms what other similar studies have also found: that meditation has an impact on our brain and physiology.
Some of the key findings over the years include the observation that meditation increases our ability to cope with stress and that over time; the practice of meditation can allow a person to decrease their stress response on command.
The anecdotal evidence regarding meditation is also strong. Meditators report increased peace of mind, relaxation, better sleep at night and improved relationships.
In my own life, I have used my daily practice to transform recurrent negative emotions and release them. As a person living in the modern world, my ego and brain tend to easily take the lead and take control.
Many days can go by without checking in with my body and the messages it is sending. As our bodies store memories and emotions, not checking in regularly can lead to a buildup and recurrence of negative emotions—especially ones that have been around in our lives long enough to become habits.
Through meditation, I remind myself that my heart is the part of me I want in the lead and that the mind serves the heart. I use deep breathing and body scans to connect to my body and listen for its messages. If you want to try this for yourself, there are sites and technology available that provide free guided meditations.
When I identify a negative emotion that appears stuck, I remember that feeding it, resisting or ignoring it will only increase its stuck-ness. Through visualization, I release it and set an intention to return to the visualization if the emotion returns as I go about my day.
I find that I hang on to negativity less and that I cultivate mindfulness and awareness. The more I practice, the more I remember this mindfulness in the heat of any given moment.
That meditation has many benefits has been well established. How it can benefit you will depend on your goals and level of practice. Explore the world of meditation to find out how it can benefit you.
As your exploration begins, remember that the best results are experienced by long time meditators and by those who have fully-integrated the practice in their daily lives.
In other words meditation is not a quick fix. The greatest benefits are achieved when it is pursued as a lifelong path towards peace. And I can not stress enough, dear friends, that when done right, it really will bring you greater peace and inner strength.
Your heart will begin to lead your life rather than your circumstances.
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Ed: Sara Crolick