Most people come to meditation thinking, or even fearing, that it is difficult. No matter how much some people rave about the benefits of meditation, many think it would be easier to relax by merely playing a sport, reading a book, grabbing a drink, watching TV, or doing any number of things that don’t require much effort.
Meditation does require some effort, or personal discipline, and it takes up the most precious commodity in our lives – time. Yet, to derive all of the benefits takes practice. So why go to all the trouble of learning to meditate? Isn’t it all too hard? The short answer is that learning to meditate will invariably help your well-being. One of the best answers is that you will feel the benefits almost immediately, which is definitely one of the greatest aspects of meditation. I like to think of meditation as an insurance policy to protect your most precious asset – your mind.
The core benefit of meditation is that it’s a proven way to truly rest and clear your mind. We know how important it is to rest our body. We could not keep going for days on end without resting. We do not work most machines continuously without giving them a rest, for fear they might heat up and explode. But somehow, when it comes to resting our minds, we imagine the same laws don’t apply.
Most people consider sleep to be the best way to rest and rejuvenate their minds. But a growing problem in today’s world is that sleep does not equal rest for many people. And the lack of mental rest is not merely caused by lack of sleep, because when we sleep, we keep processing information from the day or other issues that needed but did not get our attention. In essence, we still use our minds during sleep. It is not easy to give the mind the real rest it craves.
We also have the notion that we can rest our minds when we go on vacation or just take time away from our normal life. How many times have you been on vacation, sitting on a lovely beach or walking in the green hills somewhere, when suddenly – pop! – up comes some worry or concern? How often has the stress of day-to-day life reemerged in your head the minute your relaxing vacation was over?
What is happening is that – despite attempts to relax, distract, and slow down – the mind still processes problems in your conscious and unconscious spheres. To truly stop the clutter and “traffic,” we need to control our flow of thoughts and our brain waves. Meditation is a way to do just that. Through meditation we develop the skills and power to relax and clear our minds, and through this comes rest and a great many more benefits.
Many of us are paid to use our minds to add value to the organizations and communities we work in. To do this, we must have the clarity to make better decisions and the ability to focus our minds to the task at hand, so that we use more of our mental capacities. By actively training these two areas by meditating, we can enhance our careers and offer more value.
It is in moments of decision making when we add or destroy value to ourselves and the people around us. The decisions may be large or small, but theoretically, for each of them, we gather as much information as we can, analyze that information, weigh our options, and make a decision. Some decisions may involve spending vast sums of money that carry huge consequences for the lives and livelihoods of many people. Other decisions might concern how to better serve a client’s needs.
If you work in the medical profession or in law enforcement, your decisions sometimes involve life and death. And, astonishingly, these decisions often need to be made rapidly, sometimes in a matter of minutes or seconds.
The most important factor in effective and sound decision making is clarity of mind. If your mind is full of mental noise or distracting thoughts, then it will have to work harder, and take longer, to process information and make decisions. Additionally, if we have unconstructive emotions bubbling up inside us, our minds will likely feel fatigued, and our decisions won’t necessarily be congruent with our internal values. Instead, our decisions will be based on the mental clutter whirring around in our minds.
Mental Resilience Training can help reduce your mental chatter. And, without the chaos that such noise brings with it, you will be better able to make more insightful and effective decisions.
Once you establish a sustained meditation practice, you become aware of the mental chatter and more adept at clearing it. You have the tools to develop some space to perceive a situation with greater clarity before you make any crucial decisions. The time needed to create this mental space is not hours or days; it is, literally, a few moments.
About the author:
Kamal Sarma is the author of Mental Resilience: The Power of Clarity – How to Develop the Focus of a Warrior and the Peace of a Monk. For over ten years, he has guided corporate executives on maintaining clarity and peace while balancing intense work demands, work, and relationships.
Excerpted with permission from the book Mental Resilience: The Power of Clarity – How to Develop the Focus of a Warrior and the Peace of a Monk. © 2008 by Kamal Sarma. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com or 800-972-6657 ext. 52.
It will look like this: Develop the Focus of a Warrior and the Peace of a Monk