Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Power of Meditation: Voices of Students (Part Four)

Over the past several weeks I’ve been working with students in a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training and helping them develop a daily meditation practice. I asked each student to explain, in their own words, their personal motivation for meditating. I’m sharing one student’s response per day. To read the introduction to this series, click here.

STUDENT 4:  “Doing just one thing…”

The first benefit I’ve observed is that it allows you to give your mind some time to rest and recharge.  These days everyone is busy – in my case I attribute it to work, meetings, to-do lists, surviving in NYC and trying to squeeze a little time in here and there to catch up with friends and family.  But even my 60-something parents, retirees living in a Midwestern suburb, are perpetually busy (in a very Seinfeld-esque way).  Whenever I call they are wrapping up breakfast, heading to the library, walking the dog, going to the store, or doing something else that most would consider unimportant but keeps them busy nonetheless (and always seems to give them lots to talk about on the phone)!  Regardless of how we define “busy”, we need to find time to rest the physical body every so often by sleeping at night or even just taking a quick nap during the day. It would make sense that the same holds true for the mind – we need to rest it periodically in order to operate at peak performance.  However, when we are recharging physically (i.e. sleeping) our mind is often busy at work as evidenced by our dreams.  I often have very vivid dreams, waking up disoriented and/or stressed out from being so completely engaged in them, that I feel meditation is probably more restful to my mind than actual sleep!

The other key benefit I’ve observed from my meditation practice is that through meditation, you can work to improve your ability to focus.  Again with our society’s emphasis on multi-tasking, we rarely take time to do just one thing as that may be thought of as “inefficient” in some bizarre way.  That makes meditation practice difficult in that it takes a different type of concentration than we are used to, and forces us to actively try to clear a mind that has been conditioned to instead do as many things at once as humanly possible.  This act of meditation as “going against the grain” results in us often letting thoughts creep in at some point, which then allows us to be compassionate with ourselves, re-engage in our meditation, and once again accept and be thankful for where we are at this point in time, not analyzing the path we took to get here or what might/might not come to be in the future.


Dennis Hunter is a writer, yogi and meditation teacher living in New York City. He is the author of You Are Buddha: A Guide to Becoming What You Are. He is a co-founder of Warrior Flow™ with his husband Adrian Molina.

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