Throughout history, those who came before us have struggled with two conflicting mindsets. On the one hand, some chose to travel through this journey called life with their “head down”. From time to time, life would deal them blows and they would unexpectedly, react to the random stimuli without a second thought. This method would typically lead to frustration and a “why me” attitude in response to things not working out in their favor. And of course, when the “good times roll”, there would be a continuous yearning and hope that the good times last forever. On the other hand, there have been those who cultivated the ability to “roll with the punches.” In other words, when life dealt them a bad hand, they were able to keep their head up and know that their current circumstances are momentary. As bad things happened, they were able to respond in the present moment instead of reacting in a potentially irrational fashion. This latter mode of operating would lead to a more balanced demeanor and a “why not me” attitude that recognized that there will inevitably be ups and downs in life. And that neither the ups, nor the downs, last forever.
I hate to ruin the surprise for anyone but if you use your imagination, I bet you could figure out where this is going. Throughout my life I have experienced both highs and lows and have noticed that the solution to dealing with life, in my opinion, is not to hope for more of the good things and less of the bad. But rather, to foster a mindset where no matter what life throws your way, you can respond intuitively instead of reacting mindlessly. This thought process is at the core of being “meditated”. Unsurprisingly, I am no innovator in this way of thinking as there have been many outlets which have discussed this topic previously. Although the names may have changed, the sentiment stays the same. Stoicism, enlightenment, Zen, mindfulness and being present all share the same meaning. So why use the word meditated?
In my experience, I have encountered numerous resources that give insight into what the most beneficial mindset is to weather the storms life. However, most of these works do not have a tangible plan for “how” to do these things. For example, you may have heard the phrase “don’t be bullied by your thoughts.” But what does that really mean? I have found that putting these suggestions into practice by utilizing meditation provides a useful mechanism for being more mindful of those thoughts in the moment. In other words, if someone were to attempt to control their thoughts, this wouldn’t mean that they would stop thoughts from happening (since this is impossible). Rather, the goal is to first notice your thoughts or any other distraction. Why is this important? Because thoughts derive most of their power when we don’t recognize them as unrealistic and sometimes farfetched stories. To make this simpler, I want you to think of Lion. Imagine its color and size as you stand face to face with it. My hope is that most of you can imagine this thought of the Lion without having any reaction to it, although some discomfort may be appropriate. As your mind settles on this thought I would hope no one would get out their seat and start running full speed in search of safety. The reason for this (hopefully) subdued response to the thought of a Lion is most likely because the thought of a lion is much less intimidating than the actual presence of a lion itself. (Unless taming Lions is your thing). We will get more into meditation and how to do it better later. But for now, just know that there is a mechanism out there for guiding you along your way to a more conscious state of being.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are many types of meditations as well as a multitude of ways to “be meditated”. Whether you are sitting in a silent space with your legs crossed repeating a mantra, partaking in a yoga session or walking your favorite nature trail you can practice meditation wherever you are. Your main goals are twofold: be mindful (or present) in the current moment and notice when you are not. I know what you’re thinking! “This sounds simple, is this all there is to it.” The answer is yes, this not a difficult task however, being present is not always as easy as it may seem. Mindfulness is a skill and like any other skill, you must practice it to get the full benefit. It’s like my old basketball coach would tell me, “If you keep shooting that same shot the same way your body develops muscle memory.” The same thing goes for our minds. We are building mental muscle memory towards a more “meditated mindset”. Are you up for the challenge? If so…Game on!