By Sejal Shah┃Posted: May 17, 2019

Meditation, simply put, is nothing but mental hygiene: clearing out the daily mental garbage and junk so that you can get in touch with your real Self and tune up your talents and skills and enhance your mental health. In today’s fast-paced, modern world, when you already feel short of time, you might wonder why you should meditate, and whether meditation can help you. But if you’re receiving any of these 25 signs, it may be time to start, ramp up, or recommit to your meditation practice.

Quieting the mind or having a thoughtless state might seem like an impossible and frustrating goal for many meditators. So many times I’ve felt that instead of relieving the stress, this process has caused me more stress! Doing a few yoga and meditation programs guided by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar proved to be turning point in my practice. I take this opportunity to share some wisdom that made my meditation practice easy and fun, and yet deep and profound.

1. We are all born Yogis!

Have you ever observed small children? They are super flexible, and do all yoga postures naturally and easily. They are always smiling, bubbling with enthusiasm, joy and happiness. They are always in the present moment; before their tears dry, they start laughing! Their mind is non-cluttered and they live every moment 100%! This is how you and I were when we were children. We all are born with a yogi’s body, mind, and spirit! In the process of growing up, as stresses start to affect us, our true nature gets covered. The purpose of our practice is to return to our natural disposition.

2. Shifting gears from ‘I want’ to ‘I have’!

We meditate because we want peace of mind. But what if we already have it? Just as our body is made up of different bones, muscles, organs, blood vessels, and nerves, our spirit is made up of love, joy, peace, bliss, and happiness. Satchiddananda – Sat (true), Chit(consciousness), Ananda (pure bliss), meaning bliss, is the true nature of our consciousness. When we meditate, it is not that we are bringing peace and bliss from an outside source into ourselves. When we realize what we truly are, we stop seeking it, wanting it, and searching for it. The starting point of our practice changes from wanting to already having or being. Seeking stops, and experiencing begins.

3. It is very easy and natural to meditate!

Many think that meditation is very difficult and challenging! In fact, it is very easy and natural for us to meditate. Just as our fingers fold and unfold easily and naturally, so does our mind enter a meditative state. Simply sitting with our eyes closed, and taking our attention inward for a few minutes, will lead us back to our nature. For a novice, meditation may appear to be some sort of practice or routine (one which has been scientifically proven to provide a myriad of benefits). But over a period of time, as we go deeper into its understanding, meditation becomes something we live. We realize that meditation is our true nature, and not just something we “practice”. Better communication, creativity, clarity of mind, refreshing deep sleep, peaceful happy vibes are some of the benefits that you will start experiencing.

4. Our Mind is like the sky and our thoughts are like clouds; they keep moving!

We have so many thoughts in a day, but how many of them we really remember? In most cases, we don’t even remember what we were thinking 5-10 minutes ago! Thoughts are transient in nature, temporary, and like clouds in the sky, they just keep moving. Let them. Meditation is not about controlling the mind, focusing or concentrating on something, or resisting our thoughts, emotions, or sensations. It is the opposite – de-focusing or de-concentrating, accepting the present moment as it is and relaxing into our being! When we let go of the thoughts and relax, beyond the active and chattering mind, we can experience the peace within which is intact and unbroken. Just as when the agitating ocean calms down once the wind ceases to blow, our mind also calms down and finds its inherent peace.

5. You don’t have to do meditation, meditation happens!

Meditation is the delicate art of doing nothing. When I sit to meditate, I sit with this background in my mind – I am nothing! I do nothing! I want nothing! For the time being, I just sit with my eyes closed, dropping all my limited identities and roles that I play, become nothing. I stop all my deliberate physical, mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual activities and do nothing and just relax into my being, wanting, and expecting nothing, not even peace of mind! I let go of the desire go to resist or control anything, with openness to any kind of experience, and having the faith that whatever experience is being offered is right for me at that moment. When we get into this mode of nothingness and openness, meditation starts happening naturally.

6. Breath is our best friend in good as well as bad times.

Our breath has important lessons for us. For every emotion in the mind, there is corresponding rhythm in the breath and vice versa, the way we breathe can change or influence how we feel. It is so difficult to handle our mind directly, but with breath we can handle it easily. How often have you told your angry, nervous, or agitated friend to take a couple of deep breaths to relax and calm down? Taking a few slow gentle breaths. Alternate Nostril Breathing also helps calm the mind. The rhythm in the breath helps us get in touch with the depth of our self, our soul, and our consciousness.

7. Brushing your teeth is dental hygiene, meditation is mental hygiene!

Brushing your teeth every morning, though mundane, is an important activity. We don’t even like skipping it for a single day. Similarly, meditation clears all the dirt–all impressions from the mind –and maintains mental hygiene. Just the way we don’t analyze the dirt that comes out after brushing, we don’t analyze any experience of meditation. The release of dirt-impressions can happen in so many ways, it is better to leave it unstirred by logic. Only important things it to stick to the routine of meditation as religiously as we stick to routine of brushing.

8. Connect your practice to a higher purpose.

When we meditate, people around us also benefit. You send positive and peaceful vibes to your environment. By you being peaceful, you make the world more peaceful. Inner peace and outer peace are strongly connected. I regularly meditate in larger groups. When you practice in big groups with a common intent, you help to manifest that intent! When I meditated with about 3.5 million people from 155 countries during the World Cultural Festival in 2016 in New Delhi, for World Peace, it was an experience of lifetime.