A few months ago, I discussed my experience with meditation. This is still a work in progress and most likely always will be. I don’t think the goal is to be perfect though, I think the goal is to keep trying something new and different that will change my life. My goal is to work on becoming a better person, not meditating for an hour perfectly every day.
At the heart of meditation is mindfulness, which refers to being present and aware while accepting our life as is. I know many of us believe we are present in most situations. We also tend to think we are accepting of life, but how many of us wish for things we don’t have or get angry when something doesn’t go our way? It’s okay to feel anger but not to let it consume us.
We also tend to take certain moments for granted without putting our full presence into the situation. This often happens when we are spending time with friends or family at lunch or dinner. We’ve all been guilty of looking at our phones instead of engaging with others. However, we don’t know how many moments we will have with those people so taking them for granted contributes to loss of time spent creating memories.
Meditation helps us find that awareness and a way to be present and mindful. Sitting crossed-legged, quietly focusing on our breath brings us to the present state of our being. As I’ve mentioned in the past this is nowhere near easy. But I don’t think it’s supposed to be. I think the point is to help us cultivate an awareness of our surroundings and life. It’s hard to turn off our mind completely, but when we try to focus on one thing, we can’t focus on all those other thoughts. This teaches us to be in that moment. When we learn how to be in the moment with ourselves, we can learn to be in the moment with others.
It also allows us to learn how to be aware of our thoughts, giving attention to the ones that are really pressing and letting others go for the moment. Letting go of some thoughts helps with controlling how stress affects us. There will always be some type of stress in our life, but our reactions either make it worse or help us handle it. Learning to stay calm and present allows us to deal with the stress in that moment. Not all problems can be fixed in the moment, so we need to find a way to put it aside until the next day or we’ll never get to sleep. After all, aren’t we all chasing that ever-elusive dreamland of sleep for a solid eight hours? Meditating on our breath right before sleep puts our focus on something other than our problems so we can try to fall asleep easier.
Many of those thoughts running through our head are also unrealistic. We mange to think so many negative thoughts about ourselves that turn out to not even be true. When we learn to sit with them, we can also filter out the ones that don’t serve any purpose in our lives. When those are gone, again hopefully, we can rest a little easier.
Learning to meditate and be mindful doesn’t happen overnight. This is a constant state of practice. So, as you are working on getting more sleep this week, try to also take 10 minutes to focus on your breathing right before bed and see if this makes a difference.