Training the Muscles of the Mind…

Meditation. Something I was often told to do from a very young age. But I never got around to doing it for sustained periods of time. A few months ago, it dawned on me that my ability to focus and concentrate for long hours had dwindled. I then started reading up on how I could revive it, and meditation came up over and over. In the process, I also read about the several other benefits of meditation. It really motivated me and I decided to try it out.

I started with guided meditation sessions for ten minutes each day. It involved cutting off from all electronic devices, sitting down in a quiet place with my eyes closed, and trying to focus. Being someone who always has a zillion thoughts in his head, I found it incredibly hard, especially during the first few days. I would become impatient and fidgety. But gradually, I started getting more accustomed to sitting for ten minutes without opening my eyes. By the 7th day, if nothing else, I was convinced I had at least gained the ability to sit for ten minutes without opening my eyes or fidgeting with something. More than that, what struck me was how this ability was helping me in my daily life- I was now able to now sit through breakfast all by myself without checking my phone. For me, this was a big step, since I’m either usually with people when having breakfast or watching something on my phone. So I decided to commit myself to meditation for another seven days, and continued my practice.

It’s been more than a month since then, and I haven’t left meditation.

In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed several positive changes. When, during a lecture or when I’m working on a project, my mind wanders off into day dreams, plans for the weekend or thoughts of the past, I am now able to catch myself sooner and bring my attention back. When I get distracted while studying and feel the urge to go on my phone, I am now better able to prevent myself from getting distracted. It is these tiny things, which, I now realize can make me so much more productive and enable me to truly live in the present moment.

At the end of the day, the mind also contains muscles just like the rest of the body. Just as lifting weights makes our muscles stronger, meditation makes the mind stronger. What does it mean for the mind to be stronger? It means being able to be in the present without getting lost in thought. It means being able to face your emotions without clinging to them or trying hard to get rid of them. The key is to just keep at it. Having a gym membership doesn’t result in weight loss. You actually have to go. Similarly, for meditation. And, just like you can’t lift your maximum each time you work out, know that not all meditation sessions will be perfect, but that is okay. The important thing is to just keep doing it.

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