Ok, long story short: meditation works.
I had no idea about meditation practices, my only -elusive- view on the subject was looking at some photos and posters showing people with eyes closed in this familiar posture we have all seen. Being in Dubai for the past 2.5 years and witnessing people from west embracing eastern habits along with some personal curiosity and a bad ..coincidence, i decided to give it a try. Downloading a popular application on my phone was the first step. The different video scenes were already captivating and causing an unexplainable feeling of calmness just by looking at their apparent simplicity. I mean what can be more simple than water flowing?
Start listening to someone telling me what to do and how to think (well just noticing different aspects of my breath for start) was new. Couldn’t understand why and the experience initially seemed to be only about relaxing and focusing on the breath. Slowly a larger picture started to reveal itself: you cannot stop your mind from thinking, that is its main function actually, around 70,000 thoughts a day. What meditation accomplishes is minimizing your reaction to the content of the thoughts by focusing on the breath again and again. Simple things like counting inhales, or body scans while breathing, intend to create a behavioral trait that allows for better focus in daily life, not only during meditation.
Another important aspect that i found extremely interesting was the mental awareness of the rise of feelings and pinpointing the actual cause of that as well. There is a cycle of thought, feeling, thought that someone can interfere with and interrupt it if that is his/her intention, but first should be aware of its existence. Personally i found myself (or my brain to be exact) having random thoughts that were coming out of the blue, unrelated to what i was doing at that moment. Moreover i realized that my reactions during discussions that could easily provoke an emotional reaction were modest. Simple things like a doorbell during a very quiet moment or a phone ringing were not that irritating as before (I re-invented the wheel by saying this, not to mention writing the article in the first place).
After 5 months i can feel the benefits. There is sometimes an unexplainable feeling of calmness and connection to the environment at random moments, doesn’t last long but it is there. There are also micro-benefits during daily events that help cope with the situation at hand. And of course, especially during exhales, there can be a momentarily interaction of gravity and your body where you actually feel the sinking towards the ground (ok, towards the center of the planet or along a geodesic to be 100% accurate according to uncle Einstein) which can be felt throughout your entire body’s mass.
Scientifically what happens after a significant time of meditation is a brain rewiring along with a reduction in size of the amygdala (not exactly my favorite part of the brain). Scientific community has quantified many of the physiological changes that take place. There are people, especially in east Asia, where meditation is part of their daily routine since there were kids. I can only begin to understand how these people react to given stimuli compared to “us”. And i wish i had this experience decades (ok, 2) ago. There are many ways to meditate, i won’t refer to any specifically since i) meditation is a personalized experience and ii) there are so many books and resources for someone to start. There can be visual or audio stimuli, smells, other sensory inputs, mantras etc. Whatever makes you happier.
And i have never used the most popular body posture, i do it lying in bed 🙂
Bibliography, my personal favorite: Meditation made easy – Lorin Roche