Why meditation can give us joy?
Mindfulness meditation is having its moment in the recent decade and it has become a billion-dollar business. Companies like Nike, Google, Facebook, and Sony are using meditation to empower staff to be happy and creative. Steve Job meditated. Emma Watson meditates. Tim Ferriss meditated. After writing this blog post, I have convinced myself to start meditation too! Simply meditate 10 mins every day. I found myself happier and healthier! I dug into the myth of mediation and I have concluded 2 main reasons why meditation makes us happy — it makes us see things from a different perspective and live in the present.
Seeing from a different perspective
When I forget to bring the door keys and can’t go home, I judge myself being stupid and feel angry and ashamed. My judgment and reaction are automatic. My stupid example shows that we tend to react to or judge our experience habitually without awareness. Mediation is a way to get into the aware mode and take a break from the default mode. What happens when we are in the aware mode? We see things from a higher or broader perspective. And that makes a difference.
The little book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice by Shunryu Suzuki is a great read to get a thorough understanding of Zen practice. Suzuki, a Zen Buddhist, shows readers how to appreciate zen practice with the key concepts explained in short chapters. Concise and sweet. Beginners’ favorite. My favorite! Reading this little book is like practicing Zen. It calms me and gives me broader perspectives to reset myself. If Zen has a slogan, it will be “Just sit, and breathe”.
Living in the moment
A cognitive experiment about meditation reports that meditators keep a non-reactive and non-judgmental awareness of anything that occurs in their experience of the present moment. While maintaining this awareness, the contents of experience such as bodily sensations, feelings, and thoughts are not distractors but simply contents for observation1. If they are preoccupied with life experiences (the autobiographical sense of identity that projects back into the past and forward into the future), they become distracted from awareness of the present moment. Put it simply, meditation is a way to live in the moment.
I feel enlightened when reading The Power of Now! Thanks to the author’s great examples or metaphors, I totally understand the concepts. It helps me imagine or visualize what it’s like when accessing the power of now. It’s a must read if you want to go deeper to figure out nowness or the art of living in the present moment.
Health benefits of meditation
You can find tons of benefits of meditation when you google it. Here is a quick summary for you to get an idea of how great meditation is for our mental and physical health. Meditation helps us to become less anxious and more focused. Mentally, it enhances self-awareness, generates kindness and fosters creativity. Physically, it lowers our blood pressure and boosts our immune system. People who need better sleep may find it helpful too. For more details, please click here.
Aging and meditation
No one wants to get old! I guess you want to stay young as much as I do. According to scientific research, feeling stressed doesn’t just damage our health – it literally ages us. We all know exercise, eating healthily and social support all help to reduce stress. But do you know what is one of the most effective ways to slow aging? To my surprise, it’s meditation.
How to meditate?
Observe and accept
The more I get to know meditation, the more I want to give it a go. Therefore, I read 3 books written by meditation experts to learn about how to meditate at home or anywhere. Yes, experts agree that it’s possible to meditate anywhere. But a quiet space for sitting comfortably is the most ideal. Making space: Creating a home meditation practice gives a simple overview of step-by-step meditation. I love “the cake in the fridge” practice for maintaining family harmony. Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known Vietnamese Buddhist monk suggests that whenever there is a fight, take the cake in the fridge and take a break to enjoy it. What if you don’t have any cake in the fridge? It doesn’t matter. The main point is to break the tension and focus on the enjoyment of life. You can have some tea or do anything that makes you feel good. Thich Nhat Hanh also teaches how to sit for meditation. He describes sitting is to purely enjoy life and living fully. In his point of view, mindfulness can be practiced in our daily activities. And he suggests that we can jot down or draw to record any thoughts and enlightenment from meditation. Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world is a complete how-to book that provides you with audio guides. I must say you have to be open-minded while following the audio guides. Otherwise, you can’t embrace mindfulness in all senses.
You can find a meditation guide here or listen to the following guided meditation from two experienced meditators, Sam Harris and Tara Brach, if you feel like you need some space for your head. Personally, I like to use the app Headspace for guided meditation as it’s cute and simple to use.