The Meditative Mind

I’ve been practicing meditation for a while. Sometimes I forget the effect meditation has on the untrained person’s mind and body. When you’re exposed to a thing with any sort of regularity, you get used to it. You start to take it for granted.

I take meditation for granted until I end up teaching someone else how to meditate. As has been repeated countless times, teaching is the highest form of learning. Meditating for the first time is a strange moment, especially for people with anxiety and other mental burdens (read: most people). It puts you face-to-face with your mental functioning, devoid of most sensory input. You’re left to either indulge in your garbage thinking or to let your thoughts process on their own accord, independent from your attention.

Once you learn to let your thoughts sort themselves out and just focus on your breathing, meditation allows your monkey brain to rewire itself. You sit and put your full attention on the breath. You allow thoughts to come and go, but you never serve them tea, as the saying goes. If you follow a thought too far, you lose focus on your breath. This isn’t a failure; it’s a reminder to just return to the breath. The breath anchors you to some sort of all-encompassing life force, call it whatever you will.

When you practice not judging your own thoughts each day for X number of minutes, your mind begins to build this hypothetical muscle. You subconsciously regulate your breathing patterns throughout the day, remaining calmer and more consistent. This impacts even the smallest decisions and interactions. Over time, it completely transforms them.

The double-edged sword is that it’s a slow transformation. You can’t meditate with any one goal in mind. You just do it and see where it leads you. Regardless of where it leads you, you continue focusing on the breath. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, whoever you love and however you think— this will all eventually pass, just like your thoughts. Don’t resist. Give your thoughts a place to spread out and fade slowly away.

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