Confusion arises when the topic of meditation is mentioned. Some people are familiar with meditation, while others show curiosity, asking how and why you meditate. Some people believe it is a taboo, or it goes against their religious teachings while others think it is nonsense and belongs to the mystics. Before you form your opinions about meditation, you should learn what it is and how it benefits you both physiologically and psychologically.
Meditation is a technique that assists you in stopping your excessive thoughts. It aids you in halting those ongoing inner dialogs in which your mind loves to engage. It teaches you to be more present in your life.
Through the practice of meditation, you learn to pay attention to where your mind is. Usually, your mind is wandering around somewhere in the past – you may be pondering your actions of days already lived – or lost somewhere in the future – you may be worrying about days yet to come. Rarely is your mind paying attention to the present moment.
Meditation requires you to focus your attention. You focus on a specific object, a sound, a visual image or a word. You are attempting to train your mind to control its attention, and to keep that attention focused in one place. When you begin to focus your attention, you immediately realize how undisciplined your mind is. You cannot believe that your mind refuses to do as you want. It is as if your mind has a “mind of its own.”
Meditation is both simple and difficult. It is simple because it requires nothing more than a few minutes out of your day when you maintain a focused attention. It is difficult because you must change your habit of letting your mind wander aimlessly, creating endless thoughts.
Meditation is about disciplining your mind. It is about learning to control your own mind so that you may be more mentally present in your life. (This is mindfulness.) Meditation is not letting your mind wander while you are walking, driving or engaging in other activities. (That is daydreaming.) Meditation is hard work. It can be frustrating and requires patience. But if you practice it consistently, there will be many rewards to reap.
During meditation, your body enters a physiological state of deep relaxation. Your muscles relax, your heart rate and blood pressure decrease, and your respiration and metabolic rates lower. Your body enters into a state of rest and recovery – your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) takes charge and relaxes your body. This is a state of “down time” for your body. This is your time of peace.
The effects of this state of relaxation are the opposite of those brought on by the stress reaction – when you activate your sympathetic nervous system (SNS). You may not be able to eliminate the stresses that you encounter each day, but you do have a way to halt the negative effects of SNS activation. Meditation shuts down your SNS and allows your body to rest and restore itself.
Disciplined meditators also exhibit a strength of will and purpose. Their ability to cope in various situations increases along with their ability to ward off distractions. Such individuals are more competent and confident. They also have the ability to give wholeheartedly of themselves. These characteristics are wonderful attributes to possess when you are going through the divorce process and raising children.
By becoming mindful, you are able to develop your inner observer. This allows you to witness your thoughts, emotions and behaviors without all of the drama that you would otherwise attach to them. You have clarity. When your mind is free from its incessant chattering, your mind is capable of rational and logical thinking. You gain the ability to analyze, understand and reason. More great qualities for divorced mothers (and fathers) to possess.
Many people think that meditation requires you to sit in a specific way, for a specific amount of time. While this may be relaxing and enjoyable for those who have practiced meditation for years, it can be frustrating and a turn-off for beginners. You would never tell someone who has no muscle strength to pick up 100 lbs. Instead, you would slowly introduce that individual to a lifting regime. The same is true for meditation – begin slowly. You are developing mental strength.
You can begin to build mental strength while doing your daily routine. You can focus your attention while you engage in any activity. Eat mindfully: feel the temperature and texture of your food. Walk mindfully: feel the breeze, smell the air. Engage with your children mindfully: see the sparkle in their eyes, hear the excitement in their voices. Focus your attention. Be present.
Try to practice a few minutes of mindfulness throughout your day. Over time, a few minutes will become several minutes. (You may even get to the point where you enjoy several minutes of sitting in stillness.) Through the practice of mindful meditation, you create a state of psychological calmness and physiological relaxation. Meditation allows you to experience the present moment and introduces you to a stillness that resides within you.
The breakup of a family is a stressful situation for all involved. Practicing mindful meditation will help strengthen your resolve in getting you and your children through the difficulties of divorce in a healthy and peaceful manner.