How do Buddhist monks not lose concentration while meditating for a long time?
There are many practitioners around the world especially in Eastern countries, while in our Western countries the phenomenon remains marginal.
Indeed, we have been educated since birth to take care of our body, but not our mind. We are taught that you have to wash your teeth three times a day, that you have to do some sports … So, that’s fine, but what about cerebral hygiene?
We do not know how to manage our thoughts, our stress, our anxiety … When the thought machine starts, it does not stop anymore. And we do not do anything to take care of it, necessarily it can not work properly. The result is frightening statistics on depression, suicide, stress … While knowing that all diseases are impacted (or even triggered) by a deficit of “mental hygiene” as we will see. Let’s see in this article 5 good reasons to meditate, and then how to do it!
1. Know how to channel your thoughts
The brain is running 24 hours a day, yet the vast majority of people do not know how to practice brain hygiene (except with TV, but that’s down to the lobotomy level!).
We live in a world of hyper-visual stimulation (advertising, TV, driving, telephone, video games …) and sound (radio, music, noise of the city, telephone …).
Our brain is constantly analyzing a huge amount of information, at one time or another it needs to slow down.
This is one of the aims of meditation : to identify one’s thoughts by distancing oneself from them (more details in the following points).
2. Improve our brain capabilities
Meditation has fabulous effects on personal and cerebral development.
It allows you to be better focused on what you do, when you read, when you work, when you play sports … It helps to be really focused on the task that we do.
It will increase your productivity at work and will make you faster for all the tasks of concentration since you will (much) less tend to disperse.
It’s the experience that speaks because I was the first to never concentrate on something. Now I can read a non-stop book for a long time without going back, without reading “blank” (you know, that feeling of reading without reading), being focused from the beginning to the end of my reading.
Test and you’ll find changes to this level fairly quickly.
Meditation also has a positive influence on the neuroplasticity of which we know the primary role, so the brain works “better” and we note for example that areas related to the management of positive emotions such as empathy or altruism are more active.
Meditation is the ideal antidote to counteract the devastating effects of chronic stress on neuroplasticity.
The corpus callosum is an area of the brain that is particularly stressed by meditation, resulting in better information transfer and better coordination between the two hemispheres.
Clearly, to have a brain 2.0 that goes into action, put yourself in meditation (hop rhyme!)
3. Stop ruminating and learn to let go
When one ruminates, it is because a thought is turning in a loop in our head. We are often not aware of it, our mind is completely absorbed by these thoughts and our focus is shrinking more and more.
Imagine a camera: if we zoom in more and more on the central object, we no longer see the outline. It’s exactly the same thing when we ruminate negative thoughts.
Thus, meditation will help to become aware of our environment, to let go completely by opening our focus again, by zooming out to “embrace” everything that happens around us: sounds, smells, sensations, images …
It is important to know how to let go and take the distance with the events of life. We distinguish ourselves from other animals by the fact that we have the choice between stimulus and response. It may seem trivial but it is actually a major phenomenon. When you are subjected to any stimulus, you can choose to react in this way or that way, you are not conditioned as Pavlov’s dog would be, but you must be aware of it!
For example, if you have a compulsive desire for chocolate when you see the tablet (stimulus), you are not forced to eat it (answer), you have during this time the possibility of breathing a big blow (other answer) and to avoid satisfying this compulsion.
I would like to share with you this passage of the 7 habits of those who realize all that they undertake:
Our progress and our happiness, just that!
Indeed, when you are aware that you can act differently in ALL situations, it changes the game a little, right?
Meditation allows you to increase your will and act on this latency. As a result, you will have more responsive, relevant and thoughtful reactions to events.
You know what you have left to do !
4. Protect your health
Many studies on meditation tend to show that it has a huge impact on health. Meditation allows to:
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Reduce pain and inflammation
- Decrease blood pressure
- Decrease the intensity of depressive symptoms
- Reduce addictions
- Reduce the risk of insomnia and improve sleep
- Improve mood
- Increase the defenses of the immune system
- Slow down cellular aging
- Reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases (especially Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s)
The list is not exhaustive.
As you will have understood, meditation is worth all the medicines in the world, meditation classes would do well to be reimbursed by Social Security, rather than repaying dangerous and ineffective drugs (who said the statins?), But that is another debate.
It is not surprising that it is so effective on many pathologies: the absence of spiritual life in our lives has important consequences for health, mental as well as physical.
5. Get rid of materialism
By developing our spiritual side through meditation (and I stress that spiritual has nothing to do with religion), we quickly realize that happiness is not in the acquisition of material goods. By magnifying the trait, in France we are rich externally (beautiful phone, beautiful watch, big car, too much food …) and extremely poor internally (depression +++, suicides …) while in the Asian countries they are poorer externally (lifestyle very frugal, healthy and light diet, less luxurious homes) but very rich internally (satisfaction with little, very rich spiritual life, state of latent happiness …)
Why this difference? I have my little idea: Descartes.
The reason why we have almost no account of our brain for any purpose other than logic is the direct consequence of the body-mind duality formulated by Descartes. Neglecting the fact that the two are linked (we now know very well: placebo, spontaneous remission of cancer, positive and negative autosuggestions) and by separating them from each other, we deprived ourselves of our spiritual life in completely omitting to take care of our mind, which we do with our body (and still it depends on people). QED.
Meditation will make you realize that the meaning of life is not to possess, to have, but to be. In any case it is partly thanks to that that I became aware of it, personally.
Now it’s all well and good, you may want to learn to meditate after that, but you probably wonder what to do. See this right away!
How to do it ?
Some people would like to meditate but have no idea how. We often hear that meditation is not thinking about anything: there is nothing more wrong!
Meditation invites the exact opposite: accepting thoughts.
Let me explain: Mindfulness meditation is about focusing on all our senses, so the goal is not to think or do anything.
The main goal is to feel, to listen, to observe .
- Feel your bodily sensations, points of contact, any embarrassment and pain related to the position or not, the areas that are on the contrary the most relaxed … But also feel your emotions, feel what muscles are contracted to better release them, the muscles nape perhaps, or those of the face that are often contracted involuntarily. Feel your breathing as well, it’s the easiest element to focus on when you start.
- Listen, whether external sounds (horns, rain, dialogues, music, onomatopoeia, animal …) and interiors (gurgles, your own thoughts …) Do all this without judging, that is to say without passing judgment value on everything you hear: such noise is unpleasant, such noise is melodious. Just accept everything you hear, avoid making comments.
- See (if you do meditation eyes open or half-closed, obviously) the objects around you, the walls, the nature, all without judging. Just observe what is there.
All I have said is the base. Be aware however that you will be regularly interrupted … By your own thoughts!
You will rehearse memories, think about the future, have negative thoughts, judge …
Observe this mental chatter as a cloud that passes in front of the sun and shadows, let it go simply.
As soon as you notice that you are no longer in the moment, focus on your breathing again.
Meditation is this: going back and forth constantly to the present moment.
You need to realize that you think constantly! In everyday life you may not realize that you are overwhelmed with thoughts all the time. I do not speak of the moments when you think consciously, as when you think about the object of what you read, about a given problem, a calculation … But when your thoughts overwhelm you without you choosing it.
This is how you must realize that these thoughts are not you! They are only the fruit of your mind.
You will find that you identify with your thoughts, that is to say that you give them credit and that you consider them as reality.