Using Meditation to Understand Who You Are
Let’s face it, everywhere you go lately, you hear the words mindfulness or meditation. But I say that in the most exciting way. When I was learning how to meditate back in the 80’s, people thought that meditation was just weird. Outside of my progressive thinking family, others thought I was either in a cult or getting ready to join one. Nothing was further from the truth. There were even some people that thought meditation was witchcraft.
Thank God for progress though. Even though there are many people who still do not fully understand what it is, the general consensus is that meditation is something that helps people become calmer. However, that is just one small part of meditation. There are literally thousands of reasons to meditate.
Obviously I can’t get into all of them here, but I can tell you one reason why I believe meditation will improve the quality of your life.
Our Caveman Brains Have Not Evolved
Our brains have not evolved as much as we would like to think. We are not living in caves or doing blood work with leeches, but our minds still hold on to some pretty outdated ideas. One of them, is the need to belong to a group. You needed to be part of a group millions of years ago because it guaranteed your survival against predators. If you didn’t belong to a clan you would certainly die, so our brains imprinted the belief that belonging to a group was a necessity. That need is no longer necessary though. Today, your survival is not in jeopardy when you walk out your door.
However, our brains, since they have not fully evolved, still think we NEED to be part of a group and therefore have us acting in ways that go against what we believe in, just to belong.
Let me break it down. Do you act differently when you are with your family than when you are with your friends? Do you talk to your boss the same way you talk to you buddies at the bar? You may, but the majority of people don’t. You have different personas depending on who you are with. You change your behavior to be accepted into different groups throughout your day, throughout your life. Your brain is still telling you that you need to belong; to make sure you do whatever is necessary to be included.
Why doesn’t this serve you? Because if you are constantly changing your personality to fit the standards of the group, you never exist as your authentic self. You give up doing some things that make you happy, just to be accepted by others. And this doesn’t just happen once in a while. For many people, their entire lives are not their own because they spend every moment trying to fit in, instead of being happy with who they are. The majority of people exist this way, but it’s not all conscious, it’s hereditary conditioning.
Meditation Helps You Learn About Who You Are
A meditation practice helps you become acquainted with your authentic self. Your authentic self is the version of you that is unconcerned with fitting in. It is the version of you that is true to yourself, without the need to change who you are. When you are your authentic self you know the things that make you happy and sad. When you are your authentic self you understand your values and beliefs.
Time for You
The nature of a meditation practice is to become comfortable sitting still and becoming familiar with your thoughts. As a culture, we don’t sit still voluntarily. We scurry here, drive there, always moving, always doing. This constant motion never allows you time to think about who you are, and what makes you happy. When you take the time each day to be still and to be quiet, you allow your authentic self to emerge. With the silence and reflection, comes awareness of who you are. This awareness leads to tranquility.
You also begin to understand the nature of thoughts; that they are just things. You learn that just because you have a thought doesn’t mean you need to act on it, or even empower it. You can simply see it as a thing, and choose a course of action that best suits you. You respond as opposed to react. When you are meditating you are training your mind to observe thoughts, not become enmeshed in their drama or energy.
Bettering the World
We all want to leave a legacy when we leave this world, whether it is with our children or in a broader capacity. Meditation allows that to happen as well. You add to the world when you are peaceful and connected to your fellow man or woman. When you exist in the world, being your authentic self, you create growth and harmony.
Sure there are thousands of reasons to meditate, but this one, is the one that not only makes your life purposeful and calm, but also impacts the entire world in the most positive way. Isn’t that what we all want?