The benefits of mindfulness and meditation are never ending, but so are the misconceptions surrounding them.
So, in order to incorporate these amazing lifestyle enhancing practices into your life, you need to have a firm understanding of the goal. Once you understand, it will be much easier to begin trying and you will then be on your way to drastically improving every moment of your life.
To begin, mindfulness and meditation are just fancy words for a very simple idea: getting out of your own head and thoughts and becoming more connected with what is going on around you.
Your thoughts are only real to you. Although many people may share the same ideas as you, you will never meet a person who you match up with on every single point. Here's where the benefits of mindfulness begin.
Think about it, a child growing up in a wealthy family in Los Angeles has a totally different perspective on how the world works than a child growing up in a town in Cape Coast (a town in Ghana). So whose thoughts about the word are 'right'? The real answer is both and neither.
It sounds contradictory but it isn’t. Both have reached natural conclusions about how the world works based off of their experiences in very different environments. Their conclusions are entirely natural for them, and it would be naive to expect them to think any differently.
Even when their opinions match up on a certain topic, like something taught in school or heard about on the news, there will be a slightly different interpretation due to the fundamental differences of their experiences.
To explain this a little further, think about it like this: you are a whole person. One thought cannot be isolated from another. They all work together to make up your entire personality.
So although two people may agree that eating meat is wrong, one may have reached this conclusion because their father used to hunt deer when they were a child and they were disturbed by seeing the dead animal and the other may have read about the trend on social media and were inspired by the health benefits.
This shows that although they both think the same thing, their feelings around the issue and their reasons for incorporating it into their lives are entirely different. This is how all of your thoughts and opinions work. They are all nuanced by one another and are what make your perspective so unique.
Therefore, everyone sees the world through the lens of their environment and past experiences. Since everyone's view is unique to them, nobody's perspective can ever really be 'right'. So what does this mean and what does it have to do with mindfulness and meditation?
Basically, mindfulness and meditation ask you to put aside your own unique experiences and opinions because they are not a fundamental part of who you are and they stop you from seeing the world clearly.
To go back to the fist example, if we were to switch the child from Los Angeles and the child from Cape Coast at birth and each were given the other child’s life and family, they would essentially be that other child and have all of their ideas and opinions in their head.
This should show you that your opinions and ideas were basically taught to you by your unique experience. There is nothing wrong or bad about this, it is just very limiting and keeps you tightly wrapped into your own ego. The more you can detach from your thoughts, the more open, free, and blissful you will feel.
In all, meditation and mindfulness help your brain to see the world more clearly because you are no longer filtering everything you experience through your thoughts (which are made up from your past). This feeling of space, openness, and freedom are extraordinarily pleasurable and fresh. It creates health, naturalness, and a feeling of complete confidence and stability in yourself.
With this review of the basics, you are now ready to begin learning the techniques for practicing mindfulness and meditation, as well as the many other benefits it can bring to your life.