I once attended a meditation work shop led by an improbably youthful looking septuagenarian.
Her skin was smooth, her eyes bright, and her stance easy. Evidently she was accustomed to people remarking on her appearance, because one of the first things she said was,”Meditation stops time. Why do you think I look this way?”
I’d heard a lot of things about meditation, but stopping time was a new one. She went on to explain that when you meditate, you are actually suspending time, creating a bubble in which you do not age. Therefore, the more you meditate, the less time wears on you.
I don’t know if there is any science to back this up, but I do believe that meditation is a fountain of youth.
Aging, in great part, is the accumulation of stress in the body and mind, and the body and mind’s increasing lack of resilience in dealing with that stress. If there was a way to methodically and routinely relieve stress, and maintain resilience, it stands to reason that aging would be delayed.
Every time I meditate, I feel certain things happening. First, I notice what I hadn’t noticed mere moments before; I am stressed. Even if I didn’t think I was, as soon as I slow down, all those layers of buzzing energy begin to fall away. Second, when they do fall away, all my muscles relax. I have to imagine that by never giving your face a rest, the lines and grooves that form there become much more predominant. Third, I connect to my core, or my soul, which is a timeless being, unaffected by life, death, or change of any kind. That connection, and the realization that I can always find it simply by sitting still, further washes me in healing calm.
I think it’s safe to say that each minute we meditate, is a minute in which the aging process is paused.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Try it for yourself.
You’ll want to make a commitment to at least a ten minute daily meditation for no less than a month. Remember, the more you do, the more benefits you reap, so if you can manage 15 or 20 minutes a day for three months, or 1 hour a day for a year, the results will be more dramatic. But 10 minutes daily for a month is enough time to feel change, and a great place to start.
Next, you need to find a consistent place to sit (or lie down, if you can stay awake.) Just choose a spot in your home where you can shut the door and be comfortable and undisturbed for whatever amount of time you have selected. A closet or the bathroom are fine. Have a timer ready, so you’re not tempted to peak at the clock, and try to sit at around the same time each day. Set the timer and close your eyes. Begin to focus on your breath.
The breath is the perfect anchor in meditation, because it is always with us. No matter where your mind may wander, you can always gently draw it back to the breath. Over time, this gets easier and easier to do. Don’t be discouraged by your “monkey mind”. We all struggle with crazy thoughts, and we all have to go through the process of releasing them and coming back to the breath. Just label your thought with a noun or adjective, “sad”, “work”, “family”, etc, and then imagine it floating away as you return to your breath. Not only is the breath always there, but it is neutral and can be experienced without complicating emotions.
In meditation, we are trying to get beneath our thoughts to the essence of who we are. The only way to do that is to circumvent the brain. You are looking for the stillness at your center. You will find it, you will lose it, and you will find it again. Don’t be afraid of this process and don’t beat yourself up if you think you’re doing it “wrong”. Be kind and patient in all the words you say inside, and trust that you can be successful.
This alone, teaching ourselves to eliminate negative self-talk, goes a long way toward stress reduction.
When your timer rings, turn it off, and remain seated for a few moments with your eyes closed. Allow yourself to move out of this state slowly. Enjoy the feeling of peacefulness you have created. Place your hands together and give thanks.
At the end of the month, or however long you’ve been meditating, take stock of any changes you’ve experienced. Notice how you worry less and smile more. Notice how simple things seem to be more important and how you are able to embrace quiet where before you may always have had to have the television or a book in your hand.
In essence, you are training yourself to have the mind of a child, because a child exists in the moment with far fewer preconceived notions than an adult.
If for no other reason you will surely find a younger, happier you when you look into the mirror each day, and even if you don’t, how you look won’t have the power to bother you so much anymore.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise