To all my readers, sorry I’ve been absent. I took a few weeks off. But I’m back now. So look for a new post every Monday(ish)! I’ll be honest, I’ve actually had this post finished for a couple weeks now. It just took me a while get around to touching it up and making the graphic for it. So without further adieu…
For years I’ve accepted that I am a frantic, fragile, delicate mess of disorganized thoughts, dreams, notions, images, and information, all neatly packaged in a calm, cool, collected outer human suit. Like a duck on water. Peaceful on the outside, but underneath I am going a million miles a minute.
But what if I don’t actually have to be this way? What if I’ve accepted a reality that is fabricated by a culture designed to keep people on a mode of instant gratification? What if we have just lost what it means to wait, be still, be quiet, and do nothing? Maybe we are all giving ourselves A.D.D.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Now to be clear, I actually do believe I have some severe form of A.D.D. I just don’t think the environments I let into my life are helping anything. I am coming to a place where I despise how attached I am to my mobile devices. Its becoming increasingly more difficult to sit for any amount of time. My mind is spiraling out of control and is causing me to feel overloaded with a thousand different types of thoughts all at the same time at any given moment.
It was this realization that caused me to start really delving into the concept of meditation. We as Americans don’t practice a lot of meditation. And yet, It’s considered a spiritual discipline that is highly valuable to our mental, emotional, and even physical well being. Emphasis on the word “discipline.” I don’t even begin to pretend that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to meditation. I’m in the exploratory stage at this point. But I’m highly interested, for my sake, as well as for the sake of my wife’s sanity.
Recently I began reading a book by Michael Yankoski titled “A Sacred Year”. This was the first time I considered what it meant to truly practice meditation as a regular part of my life. I loved Yankoski’s story and how he came from a place of complete discontentment in everything he did, covering it all up with busy work and juggling multiple projects all the time, to visiting a monastery and learning what true spiritual discipline looks, feels, tastes, and smells like.
It was at this point that I started to consider that maybe I’m doing life all wrong. I’m not finished with the book yet. But I began reading other books along side “A Sacred Year”. There’s a book I’ve had for years by Thomas R. Kelly titled “A Testament Of Devotion.” I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an easy read that expands on the abstract, often times poetic perspective of God and how He works in our souls to bring us back to Himself. This is a great book on spiritual discipline that is short and simple and straight to the point. It’s a much older book. (The author died in 1941), so think C.S. Lewis in terms of somewhat detached language from current culture. But if you’re anything like me, you might find that refreshing!
Another book I’ve begun reading again is “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster. I HIGHLY recommend this book. It’s such an encouragement and reminder of our desperate need of a Savior in all areas of our life, and speaks to our depravity as humans.
From these different sources, I’d like to give you what I’ve found as a strong argument for the spiritual discipline of meditation as a consistent part of our lives. No matter your religious background, I think we can all agree here that meditation is highly valued across the board of all religions. For the sake of experience, I’ll be speaking from the background of Christianity, but If that is not your background, I hope you’ll still consider introducing this practice into your daily life. So let’s get on with it.
Types Of Meditation
According to an article on Lifehacker.com titled “What Happens To The Brain When You Meditate,” there are two main forms of meditation specified. Mindful meditation is where you focus all your attention on one specific object, whether your breathing, heart-beat, or maybe outside objects like an apple. This practice is to help you be able to hone in on one thing, and more importantly, drown everything else out. The one who masters this type of meditation could have solid impenetrable concentration on command. God only knows what i could accomplish with this ability!
The other type of meditation is called open-monitoring meditation. This type of meditation is where you observe all your surroundings. You focus on the environment around you and take in every detail. You soak in your surroundings like a sponge, while being careful not to react to anything you observe. This can help your memory, as well as your ability to process information without being distracted.
It’s All About Your Brain
As you might imagine, the benefits to your mind from regular meditation are all extreme in their effects. Below you will see a general breakdown of what happens physically in your brain during meditation. I pulled these results from the Lifehack.com article. Not sure where they got it though. But it’s super helpful in better understanding the physical benefits to meditation.
This is the most highly evolved part of the brain, responsible for reasoning, planning, emotions and self-conscious awareness. During meditation, the frontal cortex tends to go offline.
This part of the brain processes sensory information about the surrounding world, orienting you in time and space. During meditation, activity in the parietal lobe slows down.
The gatekeeper for the senses, this organ focuses your attention by funneling some sensory data deeper into the brain and stopping other signals in their tracks. Meditation reduces the flow of incoming information to a trickle.
As the brain’s sentry, this structure receives incoming stimuli and puts the brain on alert, ready to respond. Meditating dials back the arousal signal.
So the over all difference is that, while meditating, our brains shut down certain parts of the brain, while making the part of our brain that takes in, processes, and saves information much stronger and more active. You can see why this would be hugely beneficial in today’s society.
I’m really excited to see for myself what kind of effects the practice of meditation will have in my life on a daily basis. Being as A.D.D as I am, I know I could certainly use the benefits of better memory, concentration, and a better over all attention span.
I’ll let you know how it goes as I make a valiant attempt to integrate meditation into my life over the next year. You may see various updates throughout my posts.
Have you ever thought about trying meditation? Have you tried it or are currently doing it as a part of your regular routine? How does it help you? I want to know!