No Time to Meditate?
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
No Time to Meditate?How long do you stand in line at Starbucks?
Whether we are busy working moms, celebrities, judges, physicians or average Janes trying to make it in this world, we all want the same things: happiness, peace, fulfillment and love. In the following Q&A with HealYourLife.com, author Sarah McLean explains how becoming more Soul-Centered will lead us to all we desire.
Many people say they just can’t meditate. It’s too hard to stop the thoughts or quiet the mind. What suggestions do you have for these folks?
The most important thing is to find a meditation practice that you like and to stick with it. I know, I know, the number one complaint I hear is – I just can’t stop thinking. I tell my students that it’s the nature of the mind to think; just as the nature of a dog is to bark. Meditation certainly does quiet the mind and the thinking process, but not because you think about quieting the mind. In fact, that’s why you have to choose a focus for your meditation, whether it’s your breath, a mantra, or even something you gaze upon, such as a candle flame, this helps you to refocus the attention away from the thoughts to the meditation practice.
If a thought arises while you’re trying to meditate, and if you’re human, they most certainly will, then simply observe it without judgment, and go back to the focus of your meditation. Eventually, you’ll find that it gets easier. Your relationship to your thoughts changes. You simply observe thoughts as they arise and then let them go. Maybe they let you go!
It’s also important to know that the purpose of meditation is not to stop the thoughts or quiet the mind or to have certain experiences of any kind. The benefits of meditation are not dependent on any kind of experience you have in meditation. Instead, the purpose of meditation is to have a wonderful, satisfying life.
We’re all so busy. Now in addition to eating well and going to the gym, we need to fit in one more well-being tool—meditation. And you suggest 30 minutes/twice a day? Is there a secret to how to fit it into your life?
I’ve found, and so have my students, that when you fit in 20-30 minutes of meditation first thing in the morning, then your entire day goes more smoothly. If you can’t do that, five minutes once a day will show some benefits. You see, meditation creates a settling of the mind and body, and relieves stress that has built up over time. This has an effect on your whole life. Think about it, how long do you wait in line at Starbucks? How long do you spend surfing the internet? Set your priorities. Give yourself the same amount of time to do something that will garner proven results – results that will ultimately transform your life.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in someone who has incorporated the practice of meditation into his or her life?
I’ve seen extraordinary changes in my students: some have become free of lifelong chronic illness, some whose cancer went away, some found their creativity and began to do amazing works of art. Others left toxic relationships, some changed jobs to follow a dream they hadn’t realize they had before they began their practice. I’ve seen people lose enormous amounts of weight after they’ve meditated regularly, some whose blood pressure normalized, some who found their life purposes. I truly can’t think of one person’s life that meditation has NOT changed.
Does meditation actually make you younger or help you create more of the youth hormone?
Yes! That’s one of the many benefits I’ve noticed. In one study, published over a period of years in three different medical journals, the researchers measured biological age, blood pressure, vision and hearing, and they all improved for age with a silent meditation practice. Those practicing meditation for five years were physiologically 12 years younger than the non-meditating group. Even the short-term meditators were physiologically five years younger than the control group.
Another study on aging and meditation was conducted by researchers at Harvard. This study evaluated elderly people who were introduced to meditation. Numerous beneficial changes occurred and the meditators lived longer on average than patients in the control group that did not meditate. A follow-up study was conducted more than 10 years later and garnered similar positive results. Meditation creates flexibility in the brain (known as neuroplasticity), normalizes hormones, even increasing DHEA which is considered a youth hormone, increases memory, and normalizes blood pressure. All markers of youthfulness!