Refreshing Your Mindset With Meditation
While April showers bring May flowers, every month also brings its own share of stress and clutter to rain down on your mental state of being. A seasonal shift can be a great time to use meditation to check in with your own mind so you don’t become awash in negativity and self-doubt.
Regular mindfulness practice through meditation won’t stop stressful things from happening to you, but it will change how you process them. For one, you’ll begin to let go of the idea that they’re happening “to you” at all – instead, these outside forces beyond your control are simply what they are. By not judging them or internalizing every situation, you’ll improve your own executive functioning.
This time of year features some unique challenges – work revving up to meet quarterly goals, students prepping for end of year exams, people emerging from winter hibernation to make roads and sidewalks more crowded – and requires mental strength to recognize and clean out the clutter.
Maintaining motivation is important throughout the year, but especially relevant during this time. Whether you’re getting in shape for summer or pursuing a promotion, the cognitive benefits of meditation include an increased focus on things like planning and organizing. Your mind is better able to compartmentalize what’s actually important when you make a habit of meditating, and your high-level functioning actually improves.
Similarly, you might find that you stop your pursuits dead in their tracks because you fear failure or even success. The body and mind are in sync, so those uncomfortable physical feelings associated with tasks you fear are the body entering flight mode. Meditation practice will lead you down a path toward acceptance, where you recognize all outcomes as possible and therefore don’t have anything to run away from. It’s not that you’ll become unaware of stressful situations; instead, your mind will be more discerning about the stimuli that it’s actively tuned into. That’s why an uncluttered mind can signal your body to have a different, more measured response to situations.
A cluttered mind is also bad news for those around you. You may find that you have less time for friends or are more detached at home, and that causes you even more stress. Not only will meditation make you a better listener to yourself, but mindful individuals are more connected to the real needs of others, even those that aren’t expressed at the surface level.
The benefits of mindfulness practice are not limited to time spent meditating. In fact, while you may feel relaxed and stress-free during a meditation class, the true results won’t be seen unless you continue living your life as normal. When you find that you’re beginning to observe yourself in nonjudgmental ways and subtly altering your decision-making process, you’ll be better equipped to handle all that the spring season – and beyond – throws your way.