Meditation and Motivation

The idea of meditation and motivation seem a bit contradictory.  After all, meditation, by definition, is slowing down and spending peaceful time looking within and motivation inspires action.  So, how can the two of these be connected?

I’m just putting the finishing touches on a web course teaching meditation and stress management.  After completing hours upon hours of research, I’m surprised that more of us aren’t looking for meditation to move our lives in the direction we would like to move.  We are all looking for motivation, but the truth is, motivation must come from within.  We must find something within us that makes us want to take action.  If we aren’t taking action from what we are calling motivation, then it’s not truly motivation, it’s pure inspiration.

So, how do we get motivated?  What can we do to get off our duffs and take action?  I believe that this is where the, sometimes dismissed, practice of meditation can help us make real decisions, true change and move our lives forward.

We are constantly moving and we are a culture that doesn’t exactly idolize those who sit and do nothing.  It should come as no surprise, then, that sitting quietly and calmly is not a widely practiced method of introspect.  However, it is just that.  Meditation provides us with the peace and calm to allow our minds to stop running at full speed.  Many people “fail” at meditation because they simply give up before they see the benefits because, let’s face it, doing something new and changing our habits is not easy and we want immediate gratification. It’s the same reason people fail at diets.  The reality is, we didn’t become overweight in a month, we are going to become thin in a month and we didn’t become a bundle of unfocused stress ridden people in a week and we aren’t going to turn into focused movers and shakers in a week.  It takes time and continual work!

So, what can meditation do for you?  For starters, it allows your mind time to focus within.  It has minutes to focus on nothing but what you tell it to focus on.  It’s time to wash the stress of life away and give yourself a break.  Meditation helps you to focus and that ability to focus isn’t just during meditation, it’s a long lasting effect.  It also helps you to think through decisions.  Science has proven that your amygdala, that little part of your brain that controls emotional regulation among other things, actually shrinks when meditation is practiced and the prefrontal cortex and the connections within the brain become stronger.  All this technical talk amounts to you better being able to manage what life throws at you and focus on tasks at hand.

Did you know that stress can actually cause premature brain aging?  That right there was the reason I decided to delve into meditation. If your brain is aging and you are in a constant state of stress, then how do you expect to be able to devise attainable goals and an action plan?  If sitting quietly for 30 minutes a day focusing on my breath can help my brain function better, then it’s worth a shot!

So, how can you get started?  Well, the great thing about this practice is that it requires no fancy, expensive equipment and it can be done anywhere.  One client, work with meditates in her closet while her husband watches the little ones because it’s the only spot she can have peace!  Here are 6 easy steps to get started:

  1.  Find a spot and time of day with little to no distractions.  Maybe it’s once everyone else has gone to bed and you can get a minimum of 10 minutes of peace.
  2. Determine the best position for you where you are comfortable, but won’t fall asleep. (Yeah, I’m usually that exhausted!)  Practice sitting in various spots.  When you meditate, you will want to have a straight, but natural back.  Your hands should be parallel to your body and relaxed.
  3. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.  Your mind will wander and that’s okay, just bring it back to your breath.
  4. Set an alarm for your target time.
  5. Do this every day, without fail.  If it isn’t working for you, read and learn more to see how you can improve.
  6. As soon as the timer goes off, allow your mind to wander.  Bring whatever your goals are into the forefront.  Immediately determine your action step to bring you closer to your goal.

Meditating is a habit like any other practice you want to put into place.  Be gentle with yourself and don’t give up.  Understand that it takes repetition and time to see the benefits.  This isn’t like a pill where you see immediate results.  This is a practice.  I recommend that my clients give meditation 4-6 weeks and journal the events in their daily life and their feelings/reactions to those events.  Notice the small changes and differences in the way you handle situations.

With practice and persistence, meditation can help you manage life and focus on your goals.  An effective practice with beneficial outcomes in only 10-15 minutes per day!



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