I meditate to ______.

I meditated in one sitting for 45 minutes the week. That was my longest (guided) meditation session yet. It feels a bit like an accomplishment, some days it’s tough to sit still and be totally engaged in meditation. This time around I was able to reach a sublime sense of peace with only the occasional drifting thought. My motivation to meditate is fueled by goals that I think will help me be a kick-ass human being. Meditation is so helpful for me, I want more people in the world to try it so they can see the magic of making the busy mind STFU for once. And so they can feel centered and feel good about themselves.

I meditate to stress less.

Anxiety, stress and having worrisome thoughts are issues all of us struggle with. Sometimes they can be so overwhelming that we fixate obsessively on the problem rather than finding solutions to combat the emotions we’re feeling, leading us into a perpetual cycle of feeling like crap. When I get really stressed, I know a solid meditation session is in order… and that I probably haven’t been as consistent in treating my body and mind right to mitigate the stress. Meditation helps bring me back to the “here and now.” It trains me to focus less on past circumstances I was feeling grumpy about and to forget unlikely worries about the future. When I meditate and become aware of the present moment I am a part of, I realize that I don’t need to be stressed. I’m okay. I’m chilled out, I’m breathing, I’m alive, I’m lucky to be in the universe. When I’m in a positive and calm mental state, it’s easier for me to tackle the root cause of why I was stressed in the first place. Feeling negative makes me get hung up on problems, while training myself to be present with meditation allows me to learn from challenges, adapt to change and explore positives instead of dwelling on the negatives.

I meditate to get focused and be productive.

Meditation is largely about focus. Some meditation techniques encourage you to focus on the breath, on the senses, on how the body feels, on clearing the mind of fleeting thoughts, on your intention for the day, etc. Because you’re creating a habit of focusing on something when you meditate regularly, it helps strengthen the willpower to focus in other areas of your life, not just when you meditate. When I improve my ability to give full attention to something, I feel more productive because I can truly focus without distractions. I can get into that “flow state” that I yearn for but sometimes let my busy mind sabotage when I’m not habitually doing meditation, exercising or eating healthy. Meditation teaches mindfulness, which is defined as, “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis (Merriam-Webster).” Mindfulness helps me asses how I’m spending my time right now, which makes me aware that I’m either doing stupid stuff that I don’t need to be doing or I’m actually focused and doing something meaningful.

I meditate to feel happy.

Meditation often helps me focus my attention on gratitude for all the beauty, adventure, love and happiness in life that I sometimes take for granted. I appreciate my life experiences, my family, people I care about, opportunities, my passions… I even feel gratitude for minute details of my surroundings that would otherwise go unnoticed. For me, gratitude correlates with happiness. The more gratitude I feel and continue to remind myself of, the more I feel like I have a lot to be happy about. Meditation also helps me catch negative thinking which can easily put me in a bad mood. For a long time, I wasn’t even aware that I was getting into a habit of negative self-talk that brings about disappointment, fear, close-mindedness and lack of confidence. When I’m in the moment and aware of my actions and my emotions, I can catch the negative self-talk and check it at the door. When negative thoughts are allowed to run loose, they can cripple the ability to be positive and recognize things in life that would normally make someone happy. Meditation teaches me to let go of those negative or busy thoughts that aren’t purpose-driven so I can have room to feel gratitude, feel stress-free, feel calm, feel love and feel peace.

I meditate to learn about myself.

Meditation declutters my mind so I can focus on things that are actually important to me, not seemingly important. Meditation can be really introspective, creating time and space for me to learn about my habits (good and bad), sense of identity, curiosity and passions. When I meditate, I become conscious of random thoughts and observe them rationally so I can let them go and refocus my attention on meditating. If I’m not doing a body scan or breathing meditation, I’m reflecting on a topic, usually on kindness, intention or love. This alone time in which I’m totally attentive helps me to reflect, focus on my wellbeing and recognize love, opportunities and goals in my life. People tend to fixate on past or potential obstacles in their external environment. Meditation can help clear away reactionary thoughts stemming from circumstances and create the head space needed to do proactive self-reflection.

I try to take what I’m learning in meditation and apply it to my life. So even when I’m not meditating, I’m making more of an effort to be mindful, to let the little things not suck up my energy, to feel appreciative throughout the day, to celebrate small wins and to approach every day with optimism, empathy and compassion.