Meditation is a skill to calm your mind and realize the abundant source of energy within you. It is a practice of yoga that gives you a deep form of rest—like sleep, but not exactly sleep. Meditation is not concentration: It is de-concentration.
It is letting go.
Rest is possible when you have stopped all activities. When you stop moving around—stop working, talking, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, thinking—then you get rest or sleep. In sleep you are left with involuntary activities such as breathing, heartbeat, food digestion and blood-circulation.
But this is not total rest. When the mind settles down, only then does total rest or meditation happen. Rest and activity are opposite values, yet they complement each other. The deeper you are able to rest, the more productive and efficient you will be in your life and activity.
Have you ever observed what is happening in your mind? It vacillates between the past and the future. It is either in the past occupied with what has happened, or in the future thinking about what you have to do. This is one of the mind's tendencies. Another tendency is clinging to the negative. If five positive things are followed by one negative thing, the mind will cling to the negative; it will forget the five positive. With meditation, however, you can become aware of these two tendencies and bring your mind to the present.
Then, you begin to know that happiness, joy, enthusiasm, efficiency and effectiveness are in the present.
The human mind is highly complex. It has fragile and tough aspects. If you have had a misunderstanding with a friend or colleague, you can become tense inside and distort your emotions, leading to negativity—and you carry this negativity, wherever you go. When you cultivate your mind with meditation, however, its tendency to hold on to negative emotions simply disappears. You gain the ability to start living in the present moment and are able to let go of the past.
There are books on any subject—how to lose weight, how to prepare for an interview and so on. There are innumerable volumes available on countless topics. But the awareness of your own mind cannot be learned from a book: It must be experienced through meditation.
To start a meditation practice, you don't have to go to the Himalayas or change anything about you. You just need the right guidance from a teacher to learn the skill to calm your mind. Doing meditation daily helps you tap into the inner energy you never knew existed.
Lack of time is one of the biggest deterrents people state for not meditating. Yet when they start to meditate, they find they have more time—because they are able to focus and get more accomplished.
Why you should meditate? Why should you practice this ancient tradition?
Why should you sleep? Why should you work? Why do you want to be healthy? One can live anyway. Have you thought about that? Why do you want to be happy? You can exist and live regardless, being happy or unhappy.
Meditation is simply the skill to help you choose to live a greater quality of life.
Ashley Yost and Mali Jane, co-owners of AM Yoga and co-founders of teAM, have been teaching yoga and meditation in their studio at 555 4th Street in Grand Rapids since 2015. Their teAM program brings yoga and meditation into the workplace to calm stress and increase focus and productivity.