If you haven’t tried meditation, or if you have tried it but didn’t get much out of it, these findings can seem a little perplexing. How can an activity where you just sit there and don’t really do anything have such profound effects?
Part of the answer comes down to how we interact with our own thoughts.
We tend to have a complex relationship with our thoughts. We can’t ever really escape our thoughts, and there are so many of them, they tend to get tangled up in funny ways.
Following our thoughts to the places they take us can be a lot of work. We can end up getting lost in circles of worry or reacting to our thoughts with actions by doing things that don’t really make sense.
And because our thoughts are always there, we can become like the fish in water that doesn’t know what water is. It’s easy to lose perspective and not even know what our thoughts are.
In the daily chaos of our thoughts and feelings, meditation is about finding a center that is steady and unwavering. By becoming more aware and nonjudgmentally present with everything we’re experiencing, we become less susceptible to being pulled in whatever direction our thoughts happen to go on a given day.
When you look at meditation as a way of both accepting and transcending all the different unpredictable, sometimes counterproductive directions your thoughts might decide they want to go in at any moment, all the benefits of meditation researchers have documented start to make sense. Building a more balanced and peaceful relationship with your own mind changes every aspect of your life.
In this Ask the Therapist video, Daniel J. Tomasulo and Marie Hartwell-Walker explain how meditation lets you take a step back from everything that’s going on your head and find more focus in your life:
But wait! Just as important as why to meditate is how to meditate, right? Not to worry. Psych Central’s Ask the Therapists have a video on that too. Watch it below, and see the Psych Central YouTube channel for more Ask the Therapist videos: