Finding meaning in life can be hard to find if you’re buried in responsibilities, tasks, and to-do lists. It can be hard to find if you’re surrounded by others who don’t seem to care, those who appear to be content with the day-in and day-out of life’s repetition. Meaning can be hard to find if your life is not quite what you want it to be and you’re noticing small reminders of that in your everyday experience.
Yet, meditation and mindfulness can immediately connect you with a level of existence that is greater, deeper than the minutia of everyday life. For instance, instead of having your focus on the busyness of life, meditation gives you the opportunity to focus your attention on the breath. And it’s not just air you’re connecting with in meditation. Because the breath is an expression of your life force – the power that keeps you alive and that connects your inner and outer worlds – maintaining your attention on the breath means you’re connecting with the way life move through you uniquely. You’re connecting with your unique life more deeply.
Meditation is an experience focusing your attention on one point. It is commonly done while seated. Many people choose to focus their attention on the breath, on a set of words, or on an image. The task is to keep your attention on that point of focus throughout the period of meditation and when you notice yourself lost in thinking bring yourself back. Of course, the task can be difficult. But each time you bring yourself back to the breath, you create great change in the brain and the body.
Mindfulness is a way of extending the benefits of meditation into your everyday life. Here, instead of having your attention focused on one point of object, the task is to remain aware, in a non-judgmental way, of what is happening within and around you.
You might notice that with a regular practice of meditation and mindfulness, you’re experiencing moments of synchronicity, or what the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung called meaningful coincidences. Synchronicity is an experience of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection. As the pace of thoughts in the mind slows down, some mental health professionals argue, you have greater access to deeper parts of who you are. You might experience more insights, intuition, and imagination. Thus, you might think of someone and moments later she calls. Or you might have an insight about your life and find yourself unexpectedly in a conversation with a friend who brings up the same insight. With meditation, you have access to parts of the mind you didn’t before because previously the pace of the mind was too busy. As the spaciousness between thoughts grows, you might have more and more meaningful coincidences. And with these, you might suddenly feel that your life does in fact have meaning.
Meditation may be good for you if you:
- have a desire for a deeper connection to life
- have a sense of urgency about realizing your gifts and talents
- have a longing to be authentic and creative
- have a deep sense to stop the way you’ve been living life and get quiet inside
- have a sense of internal disorganization and desire to make sense of it all
- have a longing to be more loving and accepting towards yourself and others
In many ways, anyone looking for meaning in their life is like a flower preparing to blossom. Typically, as the flower grows and the stem moves upward, it is not growing towards a random goal; it grows towards its intrinsic potential where what was once hidden in seed now becomes available for all to see. At some point, the flower blossoms open towards the sun. What was once inside reveals itself to the world. The flower is a symbol for what is soft and subtle, and for the gentle and slow process of opening and expanding to its fullest bloom and expression.
Flowering open and revealing your intrinsic potential to the world is a natural result of meditation. Think about it: in meditation, you are placing your attention on the one part of you that moves between the inner and outer worlds. Through the inhale and the exhale the breath carries what is inside out and what is outside in. In meditation, you prepare yourself for bridging your inner and outer experience. If you’re yearning to bring your thoughts, creativity, and passion to the world, but don’t know how, begin with meditation.
If you’re ready to meditate today, here are a simple set of instructions:
- Decide on a place to meditate. If possible, let this be the place you return to day after day so that you form an association with this place as your place of serenity.
- Find a posture that’s comfortable for you. You might sit in a chair. You might sit on the ground with one or more pillows underneath you. As best you can, make sure your body is comfortable so that it doesn’t become a distraction while you’re meditating.
- Choose a point of focus. That can be the breath or a word or a mantra.
- Now, try to keep your attention on your point of focus. It’s a very simple task, but it can be difficult. Yet, the more you return your attention to the breath (or your point of focus) whenever you’re lost in focus, the more you’ll find yourself in the present moment. And the more you can stay in the present moment, the more you’ll have access to meaning, significance, and synchronicity.
In meditation, it is not so much your ability to stay on the point of focus that is healing; rather it is every time you return to your point of focus that creates change. Because when you notice that you are lost in thinking there must have been a more aware part of you who recognized that you were lost. Growing this more aware part of you is precisely one of the greatest benefits of meditation. It is this witness in you that creates spaciousness between thoughts and slows the pace of your mind. It is the opening of your awareness that allows for seeing just how rich and meaningful life truly is.