Before I begin, just know that this article is not about "how to meditate." I know very little about meditation, and pretty much learned to do it from online articles. Such articles are plentiful, and I urge you to check them out. Instead, this article is about my personal experience with meditation, and the benefits one can get out of it. Many of you have probably meditated before, so I don't really need to extol its virtues. However, I want to share my personal story, because it was so powerful. I see it as ultimately having a positive effect on my life.
Something like 95% of Thai people are Buddhist, making Thailand the perfect place to "get in the zone." I left the temple today feeling more refreshed, level-headed, and comfortable than I have felt in months. The air was fresher, food tasted better, and my actions felt more relaxed. When I stepped outside, I realized just how fast my brain usually runs, jumping from thought to thought in an unhelpful frenzy.
When caught up in the everyday stresses of life, we tend to go into autopilot mode. Sometimes our mind tenses up and just plows through whatever task is at hand. We either get tunnel vision or over-analyze situations, both of which stop us from seeing the world as it is. Unfortunately, this can make us forget about the small pleasures life has to offer, and takes us far away from the joy of sensory experience.
Here is where meditation comes in, the beautiful antidote we've created to relax the mind and heighten the senses. By giving your mind permission to calm down, you are doing yourself a big favor. Frantic thoughts, the stressors of the mind, are allowed to roam free. When you accept, instead of fight your usual thought pattern, you take away power from negative thoughts. When thoughts have no power, they cannot cause stress. And without stress, you become clear-headed. Now you can begin taking in the world around you, one glorious sense at a time!
If you've never meditated before, and perhaps don't understand any of what I just wrote, that's okay; I find meditation very hard to describe. However, do it properly, and it will put you in a unique mindset, one you are not likely to forget.
Although I have meditated a few times in the past, it's never been easier than today's session was. I give credit to my environment. There are literally hundreds of Monks walking through the streets of Bangkok, and dozens of temples to visit. I find it so much easier to meditate inside a temple, where everyone is in the same, relaxed mentality. You don't need to become a Monk or Buddhist to meditate. It is more of a mindset than it is a religious practice, and can be beneficial to those of any religion (or lack thereof). I consider myself to be quite irreligious, but still see benefit in the practice of meditation. Not to mention, there have been numerous studies lauding its effects on mental and physical well-being.
After today's session, I've decided to turn meditation into a regular habit. It looks like I've come to the right place!