It’s a Workout For Your Brain

meditationWhen I was in high school, a classmate of mine was really into Buddhism and meditation. Like, really into it. Especially for a high schooler. He practiced for hours daily, led meditation and discussion groups, and quietly ate healthy, vegetarian lunches by himself most days. He was a delightful and fun guy to be around and I always enjoyed asking him about his practice. Especially since I enjoyed meditation and spirituality as well, but didn’t have the discipline he did to follow through with the hours of practice.

One day after school, I was talking to him about his meditation specifically. I asked him how much time he takes out of his day to meditate. He responded, “It actually puts more time into my day.”

If that were a basketball game, that answer was the equivalent of a badass alley-oop. Except the person setting up the alley-oop had no idea they had set the dunker up perfectly.

I immediately understood his point. And he’s right. Every time I’m disciplined in my own meditation practice, I never notice how much time it takes “out of” my day. I always notice how much more it puts in. I’m much more present. I’m able to cultivate more compassion more easily because I’m in touch with my breath. I notice how much more efficiently I work. I notice that my brain feels sharper and I’m more in touch with my own emotions and those around me. And I also notice that I’m more at peace with whatever external things happen around me. I’m not always in response to them, letting my emotions fly off the handle no matter what’s happening. I’m more centered. Every day is more productive and positive.

I approach meditation like a workout for my brain. When you go to the gym, you can just wander around and do barely anything helpful. Or you can go, be very concentrated in your movements, aware of your surroundings and your body, and be really efficient. If you’re more present and aware, it adds time to your day. So better to do ten minutes of meditation before 45 good minutes at the gym than spend 2 hours sitting on the bike pretending you’re helping yourself while having an excuse to watch Sex in the City marathons.

Like my own workouts, I’m not always perfect in my practice. I don’t make time to meditate every day. The funny part is, the more I meditate, the more I’m OK with the days I don’t get to practice. Because I’m more OK with everything in general. So it makes me want to meditate even more. It’s a great cycle to be caught up in.

I have a couple apps I use right now. Mindfulness and Simply Being. I also have a Pocket Zen app that sends me reminders to be more aware of different elements of life throughout my day. It sounds annoying, but is actually wonderful.

Do you meditate? Does it help you? Do you have a specific time or style you use? I’d love to hear about it.

And if you don’t yet make time to meditate, try it. I always think about what my friend said to me when I was 16. It doesn’t take time out of your day- it actually adds to it.

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