More than just a hobby
Meditation for many people is more than just a hobby, it is a way of life. For those people they are already aware of the many benefits of meditation, some of which are more subtle than others. Meditation can improve your ability to focus, it can relieve stress and allow you to calm your mind and nervous system, it can help you to stay centered and think more clearly, and of course there are those who would mention that it can lead to enlightenment.
A hobby you can take with you wherever you go
A hobby is something you enjoy doing in your spare time. I sometimes enjoy playing disc golf as a hobby and it is a great and enjoyable hobby. You get outside in the fresh air and throw discs around as you walk the course. The downside to this hobby if there is one is that it is often oppressively hot in the summer and ridiculously cold in the winter. Spring and fall are the bests times to practice this hobby. This hobby also requires one to be in reasonably good health. After injuring my shoulder I became very aware that this was a hobby I may not always be able to practice. Thankfully I also practice regular meditation. Meditation was there for me when I couldn’t physically throw a disc. When I later injured my back and could barely move, meditation was there for me. It is truly a blessing when you have a hobby such as meditation that you can perform as long as you live and which can never be taken away from you.
From hobby to life skill
What may start out as just a hobby can truly blossom into something far greater. Initially meditation was boring and uncomfortable but I stuck with it and made it a daily task. Eventually the daily task was something I looked forward to. I won’t lie, it is a very subtle sensation of enjoyment at first and often that sensation of cheerful gratitude came after I had completed a sitting meditation session, not during. In the beginning I sat for 5 min. and found it challenging. I kept pushing myself over time and now I find an hour at a time to be about right. I have noticed improvements during this time such as being more calm and centered, less stressed, my patience has improved, and when my recent back and shoulder injuries occurred I noticed I had another tool for dealing with constant pain. The pain did not always go away but I was able to better tolerate whatever came.
Making meditation part of your future
If you are considering beginning a meditation practice you should know that there are some modern tools that can better encourage you to stick with your practice. There are online communities and even smartphone apps. Insight Timer is one such app that provides a timer of your session and keeps track of your progress by awarding stars after certain meditation milestones. There are some community features with the app and it shows who is meditating with you in real time as well. This can make all the difference when you are starting out because you may feel alone and get discouraged.
I encourage you to consider a true contemplative practice as your meditation practice. Some of the more eastern emptiness meditations may not be suited for a western mindset. Point your mind to some wisdom quotes from the Bible or from an author who seems to really resonate with you. Use your concentration to focus on the wisdom contained in the quote and how it relates to your unfolding life. It is ok to take time to relax and rest in your meditation but do not let it take over and lead to slothfulness.
Hopefully you will be encouraged to begin a practice if you have not already and I hope that you do because it will be foundation stone in your life that will withstand the tests of time helping you weather life’s storms and maintain peace.
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