Frequently Asked Questions
I Can’t Calm My Mind and I Don't Know How to Deal with Stress. Why is This So?
We are easily influenced by everything that is happening around us. The ‘monkey mind’ has the habit of running around and painting stories in our heads. Compounding them into repetitive thought processes and creating imaginary problems that lead to unnecessary stress and suffering.
The only things which we must break free from are these compounded mental formations which react wildly when influenced by external sensory contact. By mastering our minds, we can respond wisely to every situation by recollecting the wisdom which we have developed through mindfulness meditation. This wisdom is the basis for compassion and we will finally be able to touch the deep sense of tranquility and unwavering blissful quietude of mind which we often read and hear about.
What is Mindfulness
Mindfulness means to live fully in the present moment instead of living in our heads and bouncing between the past and future. We often base our projections of the future on past experiences, which may be erroneous. Very often, our minds will wander off longing for things which do not actually constitute towards our well-being and we end up getting trapped in unnecessary stressful situations.
Mindfulness helps us to recognise and free ourselves from these wrong perceptions. Mindfulness is the ability to touch life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and in touch with those around you and with what you are doing. Mindfulness is to awaken to the wonders of life that is happening in the here and now.
Is There a Best Time to Practice Meditation and How Long For?
Like physical exercise, meditation is an enjoyable and life-changing way of life. Meditation is a lifelong journey and has to be practiced daily. You can practice it at any time of the day.
For beginners, it is recommended to meditate 10-20 minutes at the start of the day before breakfast, and another session before going to bed. As everyone’s biological clock is different, you will figure out the best timing for yourself as you progress.
How is Meditation Different from Yoga?
The true meaning of Yoga means the unification of body and mind. However in the present day, yoga has been commercialised and lost touch with its spiritual roots. It is being taught as a relaxation technique and exercise for the strengthening of the body. Unlike meditation, it doesn’t help us to understand our minds and gain inner peace, clarity or purpose.
Very often, our inner feelings and emotions are either repressed or left unattended. Meditation helps to ‘ventilate’ them and recognise that we are more than our emotions. Instead of reacting and riding along with them, mindfulness meditation allows us to disengage and regain power over our situations. It is a deep healing process of uncovering what lies beneath our regular thought processes and harmful emotions. Meditation allows us to reclaim our lives and become the best version of ourselves.
Meditation inspires compassion and morality. After attaining insight through meditation, we apply the beneficial changes into our daily lives, reaping the best benefits for ourselves and others. Morality, meditation and insight are not separate. Authentic practice produces joy, liberation and ease. We need to live happily and peacefully. A spiritual life is not separate from worldly responsibilities. It helps us relate to the joy and suffering of others. This is the true meaning of Yoga, or Zen-ness.
What Are The Benefits of Meditation?
The benefits of meditation are aplenty, here is a brief list:
- Increases concentration and clarity
- Increases happiness and positivity
- Increases mindfulness
- Provides a radiant demeanour
- Improves sleep
- Slows down aging
- Affirms self-worth and purpose
- Provides a sense of calm, peace and balance
- Reduces pain and improves resilience
- Enhances immune system and increases energy
- Increases blood flow and reduces heart pressure to healthy levels
- Heals painful memories
- Cultivates patience
- Reduces feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, fear, stress and confusion
- Increases the thickness in the following regions of the brain:
- Pre-frontal cortex (decision-making, appropriate social behaviour)
- Left hippocampus, which assists in learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation
- Temporo Parietal Junction (TPJ), which is associated with perspective taking, empathy and compassion
- An area of the brain stem called the Pons, where a lot regulatory neurotransmitters are produced
How Do I Start Meditating?
Waking up every morning, instead of rushing to start our day, we can instead welcome the beautiful sights and sound which our eyes and ears have to offer. Can you see the beautiful white clouds and blue sky? Or the dark sky gently telling you to enjoy the scenic sunrise which it is about to bring out? Did you notice every cell of your body blooming like flowers as you feel the warm embrace of the sunlight? How about the music which your ears and the birds are playing?
This insightful practice which only takes a few minutes can be boosted with deep conscious breathing and proper guidance. It will help us to recognise that there is already an abundance of conditions for our happiness and if we always start our day in such a calm and mindful manner, happiness will become a habit. Isn’t it a wonderful thing to be happy without desire? When we realise that we have the capacity to be happy, it will give our minds the space and clarity to focus on our priorities.
Very often, our minds will wander off longing for things which do not actually constitute towards our well-being and we end up getting trapped in unnecessary stressful situations. Be it for material gain, popularity, approval from others or any forms of attainment, our minds tend to take delight in pleasing circumstances or develop aversion towards undesirable situations. Satisfying our cravings only lead to a state of temporary high and after that feeling wears-out, we tend to seek for something else just to have that brief moment of high again. All these are due to an untrained mind which has mistaken suffering for happiness.
Therefore this meditative mindful recollection is very important and it is best to start practicing it the very moment we wake up. When we can bring Life into life, we will have the clarity to focus and enjoy everything which is available in the present moment. When we are with our family and friends, mindfulness will help us to truly appreciate their presence and we can enjoy the precious time we have together.